Inspired play has been the hallmark of the Sun Devils so far this year. <!--Default NodeId For Arizona State is 730,2004--><A HREF=>Arizona State</A>, at 5-0, now has a week off to rest some nagging injuries and prepare for a tough road test in Los Angeles against the top ranked Trojans of <!--Default NodeId For USC is 736,2004--><A HREF=>USC</A>. As we go into the bye week, I've handed out my grades for each of the individual units.

QB: B+
Andrew Walter has led the offense effectively in the first half of the season. He's approaching Pac-10 records now after putting his name in the Sun Devil record books. Walter is averaging 249 yards per game to go along with his 15 TDs on the year thus far. A very nice year for Walter so far with only 1 INT to his credit. There could be one or two more on his '04 resume if some opposing defenders had better hands but Andrew has made better reads on defenses for the most part this year. One of the nice things with this Sun Devil team is that Walter hasn't had to carry quite as much weight on his shoulders as the defense has really stepped it up.

OL: A-
Kudos go out to the OL this year. They have really given Walter time to make his reads and it has paid off. The line has gone up against three formidable DLs (Iowa, OSU, and Oregon) and only given up 2 sacks in the process. Pass blocking has been great but run blocking is still coming along. The OL did a nice job against a tough Duck DL and made some holes for Hill to put up the best numbers on the ground this year for the Devils. The line has had to work through injuries to Drew Hodgdon and Brandon Rodd and, has successfull played with a plug-n-play approach. Mike Pollak did a nice job in filling in for Hodgdon. Andrew Carnahan has continued to improve over last year. Grayling Love is turning out to be one of the best linemen in the Pac-10. Chaz White is another guy with big contributions to the success of the OL this year.

Terry Richardson has come along nicely this season and fills the much needed void this offense had in finding a compliment to Derek Hagan. Richardson has 3TDs and 22 catches on the year to Hagan's 35 catches and 5TDs. With the exception of Richardson and Hagan, the receiving corps would take that extra step if one other guy could be counted on consistently. Matt Miller and Moey Mutz have each had some flashes but haven't quite put it all together on a consistent basis yet.

TE: A-
Zach Miller has been a welcome addition to this group as well as the entire offense. He is third on the team with 14 catches, 3 TDs, and averaging 30 yards a game. Brent Miller and Jamaal Lewis have each added a TD as well. Blocking support by the TEs has been good this year and Lee Burgraef continues to be a fantastic blocker in Coach Koetter's two TE set this year.

RB: C+
With the adversity this position faces right now, maybe a C+ is a little harsh but the running game hasn't quite been up to par. The good thing is that it's been enough to keep opposing defenses honest. Hakim Hill had a gutsy performance against the Ducks after being named the starter for the first time this year. He now leads the team in rushing with 243 yards and was the first back to break a long run all year with a 56 yard run against UO.

DL: B+
If there is one position that has been a pleasant surprise this year, it is the defensive line. All four starters have gotten after it this year and are playing well. Jimmy Verdon and Jordan Hill have contributed 5.5 sacks to the team's total and account for 9 TFL. You can't say enough good things about Jordan Hill's move to the DL after his previous stint at LB. Ishmael Thrower has 2.5 sacks while Kyle Caldwell has accumulated 3.5 sacks so far. The key to the success of the defense this year is really attributed to the improved play up front by these guys.

What a trio the Devils have this year in Justin Burks, Jamar Williams, and outstanding newcomer,Dale Robinson. Robinson has been a fun player to watch with his hard hitting style. He leads the team in tackles with 45 and 3.5 sacks. Williams has 3 interceptions on the year to go with his 2 sacks and 28 tackles. Burks is right behind Robinson with 40 tackles as well. This group has also contributed a great deal to the defensive side of the ball this season.

Emmanuel Franklin has been a nice contributor at Safety after making his mover from CB. He's ammassed 21 tackles, 2 INT, and 1 sack for the year. Who can forget Riccardo Stewart's hit in the Northwestern game to force a game changing turnover for the Sun Devils? Stewart has chipped in 24 tackles as well. With the switch to the 4-3 scheme this year, the tackles are funneled to the LBs more now and that seems to be fine with this group.

CB: B-
The loss of RJ Oliver was big in terms of losing a ton of experience back there but Josh Golden has filled in capably so far this season. He had his best game against Oregon last week. Chris McKenzie has improved his coverage a great deal over last year as well. This group is hard to gauge since Oregon State and Oregon were really the only two formidable passing attacks ASU has played so far. This group will be tested much more in the second half of the schedule. There has been some breakdowns in coverage but overall, Mark Carrier has this CB corps playing much better than last year.


Kicking: A
Jesse Ainsworth has a fantastic leg and has been a consistent threat in the kicking game. He is 10 of 13 on FGs this year. One was blocked while another he had some wind issues to deal with. Ainsworth is 20 of 20 in PATs as well. His kickoffs also regularly see the back of the endzone.

Punt Return: B+
Rudy Burgess is quite the fun player to watch here. He's seemingly cleaned up his fumblitis and is a legitimate threat to take a punt to the house. His longest return of the year is 34 yards.

Kickoff Return: B
Burgess is a threat here as well and Golden's contribution of a team high, 56 yards, against the Ducks is a welcome sight.

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