Awakening the hibernating Hell Hog

It's been a long, long, long off-season, but it's now August and I can smell the pigskin in the air. Actually I smell torrential downpour, thunderheads, and 115+ degree heat, but in a way that smells like football when you think about it. Nevertheless, football season is around the corner for our Sun Devils and this is looking to be a very special year.

Obviously our defense is the difference between another Pac-10 toilet Bowl tie-in and a Rose Bowl, but I feel confident that they are working hard to change that. All I can expect from my team is that they are working as hard as possible to get to that next level, and I am proud to hear from the highest source that they are doing just that. Workout attendance and performance has been great, and that gives me great optimism for this defense improving.

I honestly do not "expect" our defense to be in the top half of the Pac-10 or the top half of the nation, but what I can expect is that they are working to improve. Improvements on the defensive side of the ball is all we can ask for, and a minimum of special teams mistakes. If we fix those two issues to some degree then there is no reason this team cannot win 9 or 10 games next season.

Our defensive line should come into next season completely healthy if we can avoid the injury bug during fall practice. We have a lot of ifs on the defensive line, which will be the most important position next season. Loren Howard is 100% healthy and running at full speed, and if Tranell Morant, Michael Marquardt, Martin Tevaseu, Kyle Caldwell, or any other Defensive linemen outside of Jordan Hill can step up then things should improve.

Our linebacker core will go from strength to a position that we hope won't hurt us. Will we be able to replace two excellent NFL caliber linebackers? Of course not, that just does not happen no matter how many stars are behind a name. All we should hope for as fans is that the drop off wont be so much that it destroys improvements to other parts of the defense. Our defensive backfield is looking to be the clear strength in a defense filled with questionable weakness. Returning two good players with experience at safety is key, and we will see if the talent at cornerback can step up.

I wrote the majority on my feelings regarding the defense because as stated before, that group's performance will be the difference between an average and a good season. Our Hell Hogs will be a clear strength heading into 2006. Zach Krula may be done for the year, but we are returning experienced and talented players at all spots on the line. Combine a healthy offensive line and running back Keegan Herring with an extra year of experience, with a new Offensive Coordinator who should bring some new running techniques into the system, and I would imagine that we will be able to effectively move the ball on the ground next year.

On top of that we have an excellent JC running back Ryan Torain coming in, a new and improved Shaun DeWitty, and freshman Dimitri Nance who I hear could make a splash. I feel the QB situation is more like waiting until Sam Keller is announced as a starter, and while our WR core is somewhat inexperienced they should enough talent to catch well thrown balls. Combine our WR with our Tight End talent, and our QB will have plenty of available aerial targets next season.

Barring injuries, the Sun Devils are a 10-win caliber team. The largest amount of losses I can foresee is five, and least amount I could foresee is one. I do predict a 9-3 regular season record. I just am not confident in winning at Cal and USC this year, and I would imagine that something could go wrong somewhere along the season that would account for another loss. I my dreams, I of course believe this team can go 11-1 or even 12-0, but realistically I see this team finishing anywhere from 10-2 to 7-5. Injuries and improvements on the defense are what I cannot see until Fall Camp is over, so until then my expectations are slightly lowered.

On a side note, thank you to whoever is in charge for changing the wristband policy and eliminating a very large hassle on the season for the student fans. I can only expect that the administration cannot treat the students as poorly as they did last season, but anything is possible. I hope for a great year in attendance and pride from the students, and expect me and rest of the Hell Hogs right there leading the way in the front row of section 32.

Go Devils in 2006!

Sun Devil Source Top Stories