Disappointing describes the tenure of Dennis Erickson’s latest coaching opportunity with the Arizona State Sun Devils. For the last five years he has been their football coach. Amazingly enough he has another year on his contract and that at the moment doesn’t look like he’ll be able to fulfill.
After winning 10 games in his first season with the Sun Devils, Erickson has not been able to replicate that success, though this 2011 season appeared like that it could have been. At the end of October the Sun Devils were ranked and sitting pretty with a 6-2 record.
Then the wind fell out of their sails as the Sun Devils lost by a point to UCLA, 10 points to Washington State, by four points to the University of Arizona and to cap off the season a nine point loss to the University of California. One of the reasons the Sun Devils faded so quickly was due to injuries, yet what was really noticeable after watching the Sun Devils for the first time this season was the lack of discipline and focus from the Sun Devils.
In the game against California there were three personal foul penalties two for unnecessary roughness and one for roughing the passer and all three were blatant. Two of the personal foul calls for unnecessary roughness were on Vontaze Burfict, who got in trouble for pushing after the whistle. The first call evened itself out as a California linemen was also called for unnecessary roughness, so the penalties offset. When looking at the second he was sticking up for a teammate as tight end Anthony Miller was continuing his block and Burfict jumped in. From that point on in the game Burfict found himself benched for the remainder of the game and rightfully so.
The roughing the passer penalty on Junior Onyeali was blatant. Zach Maynard the quarterback for California took some time to throw the football, Onyeali was only able to make contact with Maynard after the ball had been well out of his hand and illustrated perfectly the lack of discipline the Sun Devils have had throughout the season and all Onyeali had to do was not make contact with Maynard.
In the game the Sun Devil were called for 11 penalties and 121 yards and that had pretty much been the season for the Sun Devils, too many penalties. Penalty wise on the season the Sun Devils averaged eight penalties for 81 yards this season. That is an issue that is hard to overlook especially with the lack of discipline and the number of penalties per game.
On the positive side for the Sun Devils though was the play of running back Cameron Marshall who went over 1,000 yards rushing and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground and with the Sun Devils bowl eligible has a chance to set a Sun Devil mark for most touchdowns rushing in on season.
Brock Osweiler the Sun Devils quarterback threw for over 300 yards per game, threw for over 3,600 yards to go along with 24 touchdowns. Has a chance in a Bowl Game to go over 4,000 yards passing for the season. Receiving wise Gerell Robinson had over 1,000 yards receiving and caught six touchdown passes.
So, it’s not like Erickson wasn’t able to bring in talented players on both sides of the ball to the Sun Devils. It’s the lack of wins and discipline. It would not be surprising at all to find out that the Sun Devils decided to go in a different direction and buy out the remaining year on Erickson’s contract and that may happen sooner rather than later.