Our Pac-10 interviews continue with Vince Marotta of &..."/> Our Pac-10 interviews continue with Vince Marotta of &..."/>

Checkin’ on the Pac: Arizona State


Our Pac-10 interviews continue with Vince Marotta of AZ Sports Hub.com. Vince has been a diehard fan of both the Phoenix Suns and Arizona State Sun Devils since the late 1970’s. He’s also seen the media side of things as a radio talk show host from 1996 to 2002, and then again in 2007. Thanks to Vince and AZ Sports Hub for making this interview possible.

1. Is Rudy Carpenter the best quarterback in the Pac-10?

No. He’s good, and a bit underrated in my opinion. He is 21-10 as a starter, so he’s the most experienced QB in the Pac-10, but I think Jake Locker of Washington is the best. He can dominate with his arm and his legs. Carpenter is more successful when he does an efficient job of managing the game. He tends to make a couple of bonehead decisions per game.

2. How much will running back Ryan Torain be missed?

Not as much as you would think. The Sun Devils rode Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance last year after Torain’s injury. And this year, add Jarrell Woods and Shawn DeWitty into the mix, and the Sun Devils are pretty deep at TB. Don’t get me wrong, Torain was a very good player for ASU, but his injury better prepared them for life without him.

3. With three returning wide receivers in Chris McGaha, Michael Jones, and Kyle Williams and an outstanding quarterback in Carpenter, does Arizona State have the top passing offense in the Pac-10.

No. As much as it pains me to say it, Arizona does. They’ve got an experienced QB and capable receivers, plus they throw the ball all over the place. Even with an unproven QB, USC’s pretty darn good in the passing department as well. ASU is a very good passing offense, but they have a gaping hole at tight end. It will take time for someone to step up in that position.

4. The offensive line looked horrific last year against USC. What steps are being taken to ensure that such a mauling of Rudy Carpenter doesn’t happen again?

Change on the offensive line. Three new starters will ensure change. Normally losing 60% of your line would be disastrous, but its a good thing for ASU. Not all of the blame falls on the line though. Carpenter held onto the ball too long last season, and was hesitant to run when things broke down. More stress will be placed on Carpenter making quicker decisions.

5. The rush defense has improved from 180 ypg in 2005 to 117 ypg in 2006 to 116 ypg in 2007. Will the trend continue?

They lost Michael Marquardt, who was their anchor on the defensive line, so that will hurt. Jonathan English, who’s built like a tree stump at 5’11 304lbs will see substantial time as will Saia Falahola, who missed most of ’07 with injuries. I don’t think you’ll see the improvement continue, but similar numbers to last year.

6. Who will replace linebacker Robert James, a.k.a. “The Beast.”

Ryan McFoy, a converted safety, will start at the WILL LB position. He’ll be backed up by Oliver Aaron and Colin Parker, two redshirt freshmen.

7. The Georgia-Arizona State matchup is going to be a really big game with ESPN’s College Gameday possibly making the trip to Tempe. Do you have any early predictions for the game?

I think the most interesting aspect of the game is the fact that its being played in Tempe. Georgia simply doesn’t travel west to play regular season games. Ever. It will be new for the Bulldogs to do that. Plus the fact that the game is sandwiched in between two conference games doesn’t bode that well for Georgia either. They play at South Carolina prior to the ASU game, and host Alabama the week after. ASU should have won the last time a highly-ranked SEC team came to town (LSU in ’05). But Georgia is loaded, I think they’ll win the game.

8. We have seen Dennis Erickson jump from one job to another during his coaching career. Is he committed to Arizona State?

Who knows? He told everyone in Idaho that was his last stop. He’s been a coaching gypsy for most of his career. If ASU follows up with another 10+ win season, the bigger boys will come calling, you can bet on that.

9. Lastly, please look into your crystal ball. How will the Sun Devils do this year?

I think ASU is clearly the 2nd best team in the conference. Oregon will take a step back, as will Cal. USC is still clearly the class of the Pac-10. I think a 9-3 regular season is entirely possible.