Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Q&A with ASU blog "Pitchfork Nation"

In preparation for the Georgia-Arizona State game, I did a Q&A with Justin Karp, editor of Pitchfork Nation (The best ASU blog on the web). I love the answer to question #7. It makes me feel like I asked a really stupid question.

1. Last year, some UGA fans were concerned about the road trip out west and the high scoring offense led by senior Rudy Carpenter. In fact, I think I remember some pre-season talk about y'all challenging SC for the Pac-10 crown. It seems like the UNLV loss derailed the entire season for ASU. This year, ASU comes into Athens with much less hype but a 2-0 record with 2 blowout victories. What type of season is expected from the typical ASU fan this year?

Justin Karp: The UNLV loss still stings. We talked a lot about that in relation to this past week's game with Louisiana-Monroe, though when Omar Bolden took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown en route to a fairly easy 38-14 win, those fears were eased. The loss to the Rebels set off a tailspin in which the Sun Devils lost five more in a row, four of which weren't even competitive.
The typical ASU fan, in my opinion, doesn't have too much hope. We all know what a nasty defense we potentially had coming in but considering the uncertainty at quarterback, plus the idea that no one knew enough about Danny Sullivan or this stagnant running game, didn't give the fans too much hope. Some hold out hope for 8 wins, but I think 5 or 6 is a much more realistic target, considering the schedule is backloaded with USC, Oregon and Cal coming late in the year.

2. Again - going back to last year, the UGA fans heard all about Rudy Carpenter and the dynamic passing attack from the PAC-10. It appears that new QB Danny Sullivan picked up where Rudy Carpenter was expected to perform last year, as the Sun Devils have posted big totals in the first 2 games of 2009 - is that a result of an improved offense or 2 weak opponents?

JK: Weak opponents. Completely weak opponents. Did I mention weak opponents?
There are flaws in Danny's game and most fans don't even want him as the starter. He sat on the bench behind RC for three seasons and, in my semi-professional opinion, still has the same mechanical problems he did when he was a freshman. Arizona State receivers had a bad case of the drops against Idaho State, preventing Sullivan's stat line from looking decent there. He tends to lead receivers and sail balls when he's under pressure. There's a lot of growing left to do but he's only got 10 games to do it.
The one thing Danny hasn't done is turn the ball over though. He's very protective of the ball and knows exactly when to throw the ball away under pressure, something Rudy didn't do. I know Georgia has had their own defensive issues thus far, but the Dawgs D will be completely unlike what the Sun Devils have seen this year and will provide Sully his first real challenge.

3. Obviously, there is plenty of heat in Arizona, but it is a different kind of heat than what we see here in the South. Do you think the Georgia humidity will have any affect on the Arizona State players as the game presses into the 3rd and 4th quarters?

JK: I'm no meteorologist, but I know that I personally wear down in humid conditions just walking around faster than I did in dry heat. However, I think Arizona State caught a break that this game was scheduled for 7:00 PM on the East Coast, which might lessen the effects of that nasty stickiness. I think dealing with adverse weather conditions (other than wind, which just wreaks havoc on everyone) is purely a mental thing. Everyone seems to make a big deal of teams who come to Tempe in September having to deal with the "extreme heat" but I've never once seen a team come into Sun Devil Stadium, lose, and then say "Well, it was too damn hot for us." If that was the case, teams would be dropping like flies.
I'd be more concerned about our defense simply being on the field too much and dealing with that fatigue rather than having to deal with humidity.

4. There has been some talk around the South (by a few famous but sometimes stupid columnists) about Coach Richt being on the hot-seat if he doesn't perform this year. But considering he is averaging over 10 wins per year, any semi-rational UGA fan will tell you that is ridiculous. Is there any talk about some pressure being on Dennis Erickson to produce some better results in his 3rd year as coach of the Sun Devils?

JK: Must be a nice problem to have. Considering the recruiting that DE has pulled off over the last year or so, including landing "quarterback of the future and maybe the present" Brock Osweiler, there's still some leeway for our head coach. I honestly think that a lot of us (not me, but some others) are basking in the glow of that 10-2 season in 2007. It happens so rarely in these parts that we hang onto it as long as possible.
I think that if the team scuffles to start next year (2010), though, fans will start to get restless. I don't think the expectations for this season are high enough to start in case ASU goes 5-7 or 6-6 in 2009, but with all the optimism surrounding this young, high-powered defense and this Osweiler kid, Dennis has got some time. Now, start 2010 1-2 or 0-3 and all bets are off.

5. Getting into the conference rankings, I am always curious to hear another viewpoint. Obviously, down South, we are famous for beating our chests claiming conference superiority in the SEC. How would you rank the BCS conferences?

JK: Right now, I'd put them in this order along with reasoning:
1) SEC: Until someone comes and proves otherwise, it's still the class of the nation.

2) Big 12: They might not play a lick of defense, 8 of the 12 teams in the league can still simply outscore you.
3) Pac-10: Parity is the key word here. I really feel that everyone in this league (save Washington State) can beat anyone.
4) Big Ten: The quality of play is still pretty atrocious but at least Ohio State and Penn State are still major players on the national scene.
5) Big East: Cincinnati is a very good football team. The rest of them...not so much. Plus, this is the conference that contains Greg Paulus as a quarterback. It takes the whole league down a notch. I'm serious.
6) ACC: Do they even still play football? Don't tell them that at Duke, Virginia, Maryland and Boston College? Could have fooled me. Constant losses to I-AA teams are unacceptable. Miami is the class of a horrible conference.

6. Sticking with the conference conversation, what are your thoughts on the Big-10 and the Pac-10 remaining 100% loyal to the Rose Bowl and reportedly being the stick in the mud when it comes to any possibility of creating any sort of a true college playoff?

JK: I was hyper-critical of the BCS when they went to the Rose Bowl and basically forced them to take a non-BCS at-large qualifier at least once in the next four seasons. I think that if any group of fans understands tradition and heritage, it would be SEC fans.
The Pac-10 really doesn't have much so-called "old time tradition" but the Rose Bowl is definitely what we've got. Plus, let's be realistic, it's not the Big Ten and Pac-10 holding up a playoff system, it's the university presidents. As long as the university heads still have dollar signs in their eyes a la Uncle Scrooge from DuckTales, there's no way the BCS member institutions will put a playoff system into place. These bowls still produce too much income for institutions to pass up and in these economic times, when tuition and fees are being raised everywhere, the schools need every dollar they can snatch up.
With that said, I strongly believe the Pac-10 should hang onto one of the last shreds of heritage (other than USC losing at least one game per season to an unranked opponent) that we have. For longtime fans, it's still strange to look back at recent old video and see teams like Texas and Oklahoma march onto the turf at the Granddaddy of them All.

7. Jake Plummer or Pat Tillman?

JK: Let's put it this way. Pat Tillman still left an NFL career to honorably serve his country. He represented all that was good about humanity and being a true Sun Devil.
On the other hand, Jake Plummer currently lives in hiding, only emerging from his Idaho (Montana? who knows...) to play pro team handball. He showed up to his own ASU Hall of Fame induction in 2007 wearing an Old Navy ringer t-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops.
There's a reason Arizona State players don't wear "JP16" patches on their neckline. It's Pat.

Also: Last year's Q&A with Justin before the game in Arizona


Nick Saia said...


SunDevil said...

Good Luck Dawgs!! Wish I could make it to Athens this year for this game. Sounds like a great place to see a game.

I think we should find a much more competitive game this year!

Fork 'em Devils!

Bop said...

I'm really hoping we can get to Sullivan. Maybe this is the week we get back to playing defense. I doubt it though.

If the ASU linemen can protect him and he is remotely accurate, he'll put up good numbers, because receivers have been running free in our secondary all season.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Enjoyed hearing the thoughts of a Sun Devil. Have fun in Athens!

Anonymous said...

Man, I can't agree more on the rankings of conferences and the reasons why.

Schlitz said...

Good stuff, although question 7 seems to have been derived from a middle school student. Surely this wasn't questioning who is more popular between the two is it? That's almost as bad as referencing "OJ Simpson or Barry Sanders?"

baal said...

just a word to the wise dawg fans--Justin Karp is a "negative nancy-boy".

I would say less than 1% of all Sun Devil fans expect another 5 win season not one other than JustinJ would consider it acceptable. What's more 2010 is looking like "our year"--and the sched starts out:

9-4 Portland State
9-11 probably another cupcake TBD
9-18 @ Wisconsin

So 0-3 is outside the realm of possibility.

While Sullivan is no Gunslinger and most of know that this is his job this year--and he's a decent manager of the game.

RB Dawg said...

Schlitz - you are correct. I was just throwing out 2 famous former ASU players out there.... Regardless, it was a stupid question. I think it's safe to say that 60 Minutes won't be knocking on my door offering a job anytime soon.