The preseason is all wrapped up as the Devils open Pac-12 play this Saturday against the hated Trojans. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for the Devils and their fans as they currently sit at an uninspiring 2-1. Pre-season hype from the media, as well as high praise from the coaching staff set extremely high expectations among a fan base starving for a championship contender. While the expectations are still high from the inside of the program, the media hype has taken the I-10 south out of town and fan apathy has already kicked in with the possibility of lowered expectations in Tempe. For the first time in the short Todd Graham era, there appears to be more questions and concerns for the Sun Devil program entering conference play.
Blast from the Buttes, with an assist from Saturday Night Live, has just one question for the Sun Devils and their fans… “What’s up with that?”
An out of conference, neutral site game against Texas A&M from the SEC West in week one of the 2015 campaign… “What’s up with that?” Geographically speaking, it’s not a neutral site if you are just over an hour away from your opponent’s campus. And while it’s admirable to want to make a big statement on a national stage against a quality team and conference, the risk of starting a new season 0-1 is just too high. To this day, top 25 teams are not penalized for wins over directional schools. In the future, ASU needs to find 3 ‘tune-up’ games and take care of business.
Constant mentions of ‘best team ever’, bragging of ‘speed and depth at every position’, and an obsessive desire to constantly speak of championships… “What’s up with that?” While it’s understandable Coach Graham needs to build his team’s confidence in their ability as a player and team. Perhaps he should tone down some of his coaches speak while discussing his outlook to the media and fans. The expectations for this season were astronomically high, as anything less than a dominating 3-0 start would lead to doubt and concern. Now, after just 3 games, fan outcry on social media has put the meltdown level at a stage yellow.
Lack of commitment to the run, failure to spread the field vertically, inability to operate the offense quickly… “What’s up with that?” While fans question offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and his ability to effectively scheme the offense, obvious player personal vulnerabilities exist. The edges of the offensive line lack experience and are a continual work in progress after 3 games. Wide receivers struggle to get separation off the line of scrimmage as a proven playmaker has yet to be established. The ‘Left Lane, Hammer Down’ offense has looked more like an offense stuck in first gear with its caution flashers blinking while driving on the shoulder. Hopefully the second half of the New Mexico game provided a glimpse of the quick hit offense we’ve all grown to love.
Moving from the field to the stands…
Empty seats, mismatched colors, and a spattering of jeers and boos… “What’s up with that?” Sure, the Devils haven’t resembled a team so worthy of the media hype that was showered upon them in the preseason. But with just a three month season, and seven home games, college football will be over before you know it. So go to the games, wear the color it says to wear on your tickets, make noise for the team, and boo the opposing team. Sun Devil Stadium looks amazing when it’s full and the fans are all in gold, white, maroon, or black. If the SEC or Big 10 fans can figure out color coordination, surely fans of Arizona State University can as well.
The mass exodus of fans leaving with less than 2 minutes in the second quarter and returning during the early stages of the third quarter… “What’s up with that?” College football halftimes are typically 15-20 minutes, meaning a quick exit and return before action resumes is nearly impossible. I really like beer, but no beer is worth missing action on the field and rooting for the Devils. The crowd looks pathetic every start of the third quarter, and coincidentally the team has a tendency to come out flat as well. Imagine the jolt the team may get when coming out of the tunnel to start the third quarter and witnessing a still loud and full Sun Devil stadium. Perhaps ASU should follow suit with many of the other schools in the PAC that have implemented a no re-entry policy.
A new season begins on Saturday, one in which the Devils sit at 0-0 and are mathematically still alive for a division and conference championship. The Devils will be in Sun Devil Stadium for five of their nine conference games, it’s up to the fans to bring the excitement and provide them with a true home field advantage. No matter the outcome, remain a proud Sun Devil fan and support those student athletes that chose to commit their allegiance to Arizona State University.