Nov 19, 2014 - 04:47 pm -
An unbelievable weekend for ASU & the Pac 12 has left me stunned like so many other Sun Devil fans. A win by Utah in overtime over Stanford started the confusion, but it continued with a near impossible win by Arizona over Washington which was capped off with ASU's heart-breaker in Corvallis. To put it simply, this weekend is H-U-G-E, because ASU needs some assistance to repeat as Champs of the South.
Let's take a look, but first -- the current Pac 12 Standings:
Washington State at #13 Arizona State
ASU needs to bounce back in a big way against the Cougars. The is the first of two must-wins for the Devils to close out their 2014 campaign.
ASU is bigger, faster, and more talented than Washington State. But they must show the will they lacked at Oregon State last Saturday. They need to prove it.
#15 Arizona at #17 Utah
This game is absolutely huge. We're pulling hard for Utah to win and assure the that UA has no shot at winning the division. We don’t want the Territorial Cup game possibly deciding the South Champion because, as I've been saying all year, the Rats have had too much dumb luck on their side.
Stanford at California
This game doesn’t matter much in the standings, but a Stanford win does some good for the Devils due to their victory over the Cardinal on October 18. More importantly, we'd like to see the Trees head to Pasadena next weekend with some added confidence when they match up with UCLA, a game that could possibly determine the Devils' championship fate.
Colorado at #2 Oregon
We just want Oregon to keep winning and hold their spot in the 4 team playoff in representation of the Pac 12.
That said, there is one exception. Should the Devils find their way to the game on Dec. 5, we'll gladly wish the Ducks their third defeat. Shame on us for getting ahead of ourselves.
#19 UCLA at #9 UCLA
This game is nearly as big as the ASU game because unless UCLA loses to SC on Saturday or Stanford the following week, the Sun Devils cannot win the South.
Fight on for a victory on Saturday, Trojans.
Oregon State at Washington
Neither team in the Pac 12 North will have an impact on ASU's championship hopes, but since one of ASU's two losses came at the hands of the struggling Beavers, it would be nice to see them earn a little more cred as a program.
Which Team Wins the Pac 12 South Division & How
UCLA wins if: They win out.
ASU wins if: They win out and UCLA loses to either USC or Stanford (very simple).
USC wins if: They beat UCLA and ASU loses to either Washington State or Arizona.
Utah wins if: They win out and ASU beats Washington State but loses to Arizona and UCLA beats USC but loses to Stanford.
Arizona wins if: They win out and UCLA beats USC and then Stanford knocks off UCLA the following week. In this case I would probably have to kill myself. This would fall on Cal and Washington for blowing late leads in Tucson to even put the Cats in this position.
Unlike the last three years when the South Champion was decided without much fanfare, this year and particularly this weekend will bring heightened drama to the Pac 12 South storyline. Fan bases of one team will find themselves flipping between channels as plays unfold in other match ups that could directly impact their hopes for Pac 12 hardware.
For us, the 5:00 PM battle in L.A. is the biggest one to watch after the Devils hopefully earn win #9 vs Washington State. See you early Saturday for ASU's Senior Day and it's final home stand of 2014. #BeatTheCougs
Nov 15, 2014 - 11:13 am - While #6 ASU controls it's own destiny, there are still some big games on tap that are in the Devils' best interest in a run at a championship. Let’s take at better look at this weekend's Pac 12 match-ups and their impact on ASU.
Cal at USC
The fact that Cal made a late run at their south state foes on Thursday night was impressive. But the Trojans' defeat of the Bears helps our cause. SC now sits a 7-3 on their season with a 6-2 conference record.
After the Cal-SC game, here are the Pac 12 Division standings
Washington at #14 Arizona
That’s right; those Cats down south are ranked #14. While beating them as a top 10 team would be nice, which could happen when ASU heads to Northern Nogales in two weeks, I would much rather see UA lose now and give the Devils a bit of a cushion in the Pac 12 South.
A good day is when UA loses. A great day is when UA loses, and the Devils win. Go Huskies!
#23 Utah at Stanford
This game is a bit strange for Sun Devil fans knowing that we have beat both squads this year. I'm going to pull for the Utes for a couple of reasons.
First, I would like them to gain some confidence heading into their showdown next week with Arizona in Salt Lake. Also, as long as the Cardinal remain unranked, it makes Notre Dame suffer since their game with Stanford was arguably their best win. Go Utes!
# 6 ASU at Oregon State
This game could be scary coming off the big win last week. The Devils are 9-point favorites, but this is an abnormally late match-up (8:45 PM Arizona time) on the road. Historically, there have been many upsets at the hands of the home team in Corvalis.
While the Beavers have a top-notch quarterback in Sean Manion, they are 4-5 and struggling to make it into the post-season. If ASU can dismiss the notion of the "trap game" and play like they have in five consecutive wins since UCLA, the Devils will return to Tempe with their 9th win.
#1 Mississippi State at #5 Alabama
While this is not a conference game it is still big. We don’t care who wins, we just want a blowout so that the loser drops well below the Devils in the rankings and bumps ASU closer to the 4-team playoff should they beat Oregon State.
The reality is that if they win out, ASU will finish in the top four. However, a jump in the rankings at this high level will serve as a step forward for the national profile of the program now. I'm sick of Alabama, so I am hoping that Mississippi State can win in a route. Go Bulldogs!
Nov 07, 2014 - 02:51 pm - The Devils enter the second week of the College Football Playoff Rankings at #9. No one needs to mention that every game the Devils play from here on out is important but there are plenty of other games that will have an impact on where ASU plays their post season. Without further adieu lets do a run-through of what's in the Devils' best interest on Saturday.
#10 Notre Dame at #9 Arizona State
That’s right, the Devils have jumped the Irish in the national rankings. Fans have been waiting for this one all year. This match-up is what so many fans have been waiting for all year.
This game is interesting for so many reasons. If the Devils win they would climb ever closer to a spot in the four-team college playoff. However, in the race for the Pac 12 title, this game is inconsequential. A win or loss on Saturday will not change ASU’s position in the South. In essence, the Devils are playing with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
ASU needs to come out with their hair on fire! Much of this team has revenge on their minds after dropping a heartbreaker to the Irish last year at Cowboy Stadium in Texas. This is a statement game. If the Devils want the national recognition that they feel they deserve, this game is the answer.
Washington State at Oregon State
Nothing fun going on here. Neither of these teams in the North are competing for the championship. Washington State lost their quarterback for the year and Oregon State is fighting for their post-season lives. These teams have a combined 6-11 record and it makes no difference at all to the Sun Devils who wins.
#18 UCLA at Washington
Tough game in Seattle here. Either way this looks good for the Devils. If UCLA wins and continues to climb in the rankings it makes the Devils loss to them not look so heinous. If Washington wins it proves that they are a quality opponent, which is good for ASU since the Devils won in Seattle a few weeks ago. Just to be safe lets pull for the Huskies so that the Bruins get another conference loss and give the Devils a bit more breathing room in the Pac 12 South.
Colorado at #19 Arizona
Thank goodness the Cats finally lost last week at UCLA. However, look for them to bounce back against the lowly Buffaloes of Colorado. The Buffs come to Tucson with a 2-7 record, but they have been very close to pulling out a win these past few weeks. Let’s hope that this week is the time that Colorado gets a breakthrough win for their program. Unfortunately the Wildcats actually look pretty good this year, but hey, a man can dream. Go Buffs!
#4 Oregon at #17 Utah
This game is really tough to call. On one hand we want Oregon to win and keep a Pac 12 team in the top four. On the other hand, a Utah victory would really help the Sun Devils strength of schedule.
I know it is dangerous to look ahead but as Sun Devil fans this is what we want to happen; we want Oregon to win and stay in the top four. A loss here by Utah actually gives the Devils a little wiggle room for the South division lead. We want Utah to lose but win the rest of their games. We really want a mad Utah team to steamroll Arizona in Salt Lake in a couple of weeks.
If the Devils keep winning and things break right then we could be looking at a Pac 12 Championship game of two top 6 teams in ASU and Oregon with the winner advancing to college football’s first playoff. It actually gives me goose bumps to put this in writing. In any case GO Ducks!
There you have it, this week is more about quality than quantity. See you in a sold-out Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday or at one of ASU’s many game watching parties across the country. #BeattheIrish
Oct 31, 2014 - 05:02 pm - Is it just me or has this been the slowest week ever? The college football playoff rankings were released on Tuesday with the Sun Devils sitting at #14, so it seems like forever to get this weekend's high caliber match-ups underway. With success in the next two weeks, Arizona State would become a top 10 program, but first things first. There is a huge game looming against #19 Utah on Saturday.
Pac 12 North and South standings going into Week 10
Washington at Colorado
ASU has knocked off both the Huskies and the Buffaloes so no matter the outcome the Sun Devils strength of schedule will improve. However, we want Washington to win for one of the same reasons we want the Trojans to, bowl eligibility. The Huskies also need one more win to get to the magic number of six, and every bowl team that ASU beats helps the Sun Devil program. Go Huskies!
USC at Washington State
Easy pick here as this game has some impact on the Devils. We want USC to prevail for a couple of reasons. First, each win SC earns adds weight to ASU's dramatic victory at the Coliseum on Oct. 4. Second, the Trojans have five wins so a victory at the Palouse makes them bowl eligible. That's another plus for the Pac-12's resume and more revenue to be collected by conference schools.
Stanford at #5 Oregon
On the surface this looks like an easy choice. Naturally, we want Stanford to win to boost our strength of schedule. However, Oregon is currently the only conference team with a realistic shot at the four team playoff.
If Oregon wins big and gets a bump into the top 4, this is good news for the Pac. There is still a scenario where a one loss ASU plays a one loss Oregon in the conference championship with the winner headed to the Rose Bowl and/or the Playoff. If Stanford wins that possibility is essentially eliminated. Do your thing Ducks.
#12 Arizona at #22 UCLA
At the beginning of the season, who would have thought that tucson would be the higher ranked team in this match-up? No one. Sun Devil fans know that, other than their big win at Oregon, the Wildcats' resume is truly not all that impressive. They barely got by Cal at home on a Hail Mary, snuck by UTSA in the waning moments of the game and lost at home to USC in their most high profile match-up in years. However, I feel that the Bruins aren't quite the same since they won big here in Tempe.
UCLA was very fortunate to win their last two games against Cal and Colorado, yet somehow find themselves a 6.5 point favorite over the Cats at home. I wish both teams could lose, but since that can’t happen we'll pull for the Bruins. Another conference loss by Arizona should take some of the pressure off of ASU's trip to Tucson in four weeks. Make no doubt about it. A win by both Territorial Cup schools on Saturday will jump-start the hype for this year's showdown in Tucson in four weeks. Still, go Bruins.
Cal at Oregon State
Both of these North teams head into this match-up with four victories and are fighting for bowl eligibility. An Oregon State win could benefit ASU when they go for a victory at Corvallis in two weeks.
#17 Utah at #14 Arizona State
One of the biggest games in the country takes place here in Tempe as the Utes come to Sun Devil Stadium in a Pac 12 South fight. Both teams control their own destiny, and Saturday's loser will find themselves on the outside looking in.
After a tough battle at Washington last week, I see the Devils coming out of Tillman Tunnel focused and ready to perform in front of the Maroon & Gold faithful. Utah has a tough defense, but I am not impressed with their quarterback play. Add in the loss of Dres Anderson, Utah's best receiver, for the season. I see this one being very similar to the Stanford game with the Devils pulling out win #7.
#10 Notre Dame @ Navy
While this is not a conference game, it is big for ASU. I traditionally root for Navy in this one, however this year is different. With a big win by the Irish, Notre Dame will head into Tempe next Saturday as a top 10 team. Should ASU take care of Utah, a win over a top 10 Notre Dame would thrust the Devils into the single digit rankings and into the playoff conversation. It pains me to say but Go Irish!
There you have it, this weeks matchups that have the most impact on your Sun Devils. Come Sunday, the Pac 12 race will be much clearer. But for now, let's sit back and enjoy a beautiful Saturday in November.
Oct 25, 2014 - 06:23 pm - The following is an ASU Athletics Media release
TEMPE -- The American Heart Association and The Paul Bear Bryant Awards’ Title Sponsor Marathon Oil Corporation today announced the watch list for the coveted Coach of the Year Award and Arizona State University head coach Todd Graham was among those named. The winner of the award will be revealed at the 29th annual event on Jan. 14, 2015 in Houston.
The coaches on the watch list for the 2014 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award include (alphabetical order):
• Art Briles, Baylor University
• Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
• Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
• Huge Freeze, University of Mississippi
• Todd Graham, Arizona State
• Mark Helfrich, University of Oregon
• Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia University
• Doc Holliday, Marshall University
• Brian Kelly, University of Notre Dame
• Gus Malzahn, Auburn University
• Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina University
• Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
• Gary Patterson, Texas Christian
• Bo Pelini, University of Nebraska
• Mark Richt, University of Georgia
• Rich Rodriguez, University of Arizona
• Nick Saban, University of Alabama
• Bill Snyder, Kansas State University
• Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma
• Kyle Whittingham, University of Utah
Graham has led the Sun Devils to a 5-1 record to open the 2014 campaign and the Sun Devils are coming off back-to-back wins over AP-ranked opponents for the first time since the 1997 with the team’s most recent victories over USC and Stanford.
Arizona State is 18-5 in the last 23 games, the second-best record of all Pac-12 teams in the most recent 23-game span behind only Oregon (19-4). Of all the coaching hires made prior to the 2012 season, Graham has posted the fourth-best record at 23-10, half a game behind UCLA’s Jim Mora at 24-10 with only Urban Meyer (29-3) and Kevin Sumlin (25-9) ahead of them.
The Sun Devils have won six straight road games and Todd Graham is 9-5 on the road in his time at ASU. Graham has eight Pac-12 road victories under his belt already, tied for the second-most among all ASU coaches since 1980 behind only Bruce Snyder’s 18 from 1992-2000. In four seasons prior to Todd Graham, ASU was 5-13 in conference road games while Graham has led the squad to a 8-3 record in such games in his three seasons at the helm.
Legendary Alabama Football Coach, Paul Bear Bryant
In December, a finalists’ list comprised of five to 10 coaches will be announced. Finalists will attend an awards dinner on Jan. 14, 2015 at the Hilton Americas Houston, where the winner will be announced live. The Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award is the only college coaching honor voted on after all of the bowl games are concluded and is voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Last year’s winner was Gus Malzahn of Auburn University.
January’s event will also recognize Jimmy Johnson, one of the most respected and accomplished football coaches in NCAA and NFL history, as the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Recipient. The award recognizes excellence in coaching on and off the field during a career, allowing recipients to take their place in history alongside legends such as Paul “Bear” Bryant. Among the past recipients of the award are R.C. Slocum (2014), LaVell Edwards (2013) and Hayden Fry (2012).
The Bryant Awards honor excellence in coaching while raising funds to fight heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. Bryant himself suffered a heart attack prior to his death in 1983. Funds raised benefit research, community education and outreach programs of the AHA. For more information, or to purchase tickets or a table for the event, contact Jimmy Comerota at 713-610-5026 or visit www.bryantawards.com. Join the conversation on social media by following @ahahouston and #bryantawards.
Oct 24, 2014 - 01:32 pm - In what has become a weekly occurrence, there were crucial games throughout the land last week that had a huge impact on the Sun Devils, particularly in the Pac 12 and a run at the championship.
Notre Dame lost a close game to Florida State, which doesn’t help ASU. However, UCLA and Utah won conference games against North opponents which strengthens the status of the Pac 12 South. SC also improved their record with a victory over Colorado.
As always, ASU's number #1 strategy is to win out in the South. This weekend has many more big match-ups. Let's have a look.
The Pac 12 Standings Entering Week 9
#6 Oregon @ California (Friday)
The Ducks have found their groove after a hiccup against Arizona and are looking to secure a spot in this year's four-team playoff for the National Champion.
Cal can score, especially at home, but the Ducks can do it better. The Devils skip the Quack Attack this year. We want Oregon to win big and continue to advance in the polls.
#25 UCLA @ Colorado
Usually we want a ranked conference team to beat an unranked team and help advance the Pac 12 nationally, but that is not the case here.
Yes, if UCLA stays relevant and wins, it makes ASU's big loss to the powder-blue look just a little less "big." However, the Bruins still hold a tiebreaker over the Devils, so we're pulling for the Buffs to deliver UCLA another loss in the South.
As a side note, ASU pounded the Buffaloes in Boulder. If they were to beat the Bruins, in a round about way ASU would still look like a better team than UCLA at this juncture with the Devils' loss to the Bruins looking like a Sun Devil fluke. Go Buffs!
Oregon State @ Stanford
This game doesn’t matter so much for ASU. Both of these teams are stuck on four wins, and it is unlikely that a victory would put either team back into the rankings.
We should pull for Stanford to get back on track which would bolster the Devils' win over the Cardinal last week.
#15 Arizona @ Washington State
This game will be close. Washington State can score points as well as anyone behind their record setting quarterback, Conner Halliday.
This sold-out game is being played in Pullman with temperatures in the 40’s. We all gain satisfaction when the cats lose, and this game is no exception. Go Cougars!
#20 USC @ #19 Utah
This is by far the most complex match-up in the conference.
On one hand we want USC to win and climb in the rankings because we have already beaten them. On the other hand we want Utah to win and come into Tempe as potentially a top-15 team next week.
With a close-fought battle right to the end it's also possible, slightly possible, that the loser remains in the top-25 nationally. A physically and mentally taxing game could bode well for ASU as Utah comes to Tempe next week.
In years past, when the Utes have lost this type of game at home, they have tended to sputter down the stretch. We want Utah to be at their best moving forward, with ASU pulling out the win next Saturday.
ASU and Utah victories this weekend will set up a national showdown in Sun Devil Stadium next Saturday on Homecoming weekend.
#14 Arizona State @ Washington
The fact that the Devils dominated Stanford after losing nine defensive starters from last year further proves the legitimacy of Coach Graham's program, but Saturday's game in Seattle is positioned as a “let down” for ASU.
The Devils anticipate a ranked Utah team at home next week before hosting Notre Dame, arguably the most hyped game on their schedule. These Huskies at home are not to be overlooked.
This is a "purple-out" game for Washington who can be dangerous in spurts. Regardless of the split time between QB's Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici, should the defense plays like it has the past six quarters this could be win #6 for Arizona State.
I am so excited to watch how things unfold the next few weeks as the stakes get higher. Don’t forget, we are still pulling for Notre Dame until they come to Tempe. ND blew their chance to enter Sun Devil Stadium as the #1 team, but if both the Devils and the Irish win their next two contests we could be preparing for a clash of two top-10 teams in the House of Heat on November 8.
Man, I love college football!
Oct 06, 2014 - 07:47 am -
CHECK OUT ROUND 2: Images & video pay tribute to the Jael Mary, Mike Bercovici, Jaelen Strong and ASU's last-second victory at SC Saturday night. (posted by fans, media & journalists)Follow DHD on Instagram - http://instagram.com/dieharddevil/,
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Mar 08, 2014 - 08:09 am -
ASU's 2014 Pro Day at Sun Devil Stadium went off without a hitch.
Nearly 20 former Sun Devils participated. Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Marion Grice are projected to earn contracts with Grice a likely late-round pick. However, there are other Sun Devils vying for a late-round pick or becoming un-drafted free agents with a shot at playing into a deal.
Carl Bradford (Original photo credit to Doug Haller)
Sun Devil Participants
NFL Scouts in Attendance
9:30am Media, NFL scouts, draft-eligible players and ASU personnel gather in the weight room at Sun Devil Stadium.
9:44am Rumors start circulating that Marion Grice will not be participating in the workouts today.
9:57am Players gather in a circle and a few words are spoken. Now its time to go!
10:05am Each athlete starts with the vertical jump test.
10:16am Athletes move from the vertical jump to the broad jump, both tests are going on simultaneously.
10:33am The next and final test in the weight room is the bench press. Each player is tested on how many reps they can get with 225lbs.
10:52am Athletes scouts and media make their way from the weight room through Pat Tillman Tunnel and onto Frank Kush field. The sun is shining and conditions are perfect.
11:38am Will Sutton runs the 40yd dash.
11:43am Derek Hagan runs the 40yd dash.
11:54am Athletes split into groups based on position for the next set of drills.
Pro Day 40-Yard Dashes shot by Hod Rabino of Scout
The runners in order are: Carl Bradford, Davon Coleman, Chris Coyle, Alden Darby, Oshaon Irabor, Anthony Jones, Robert Nelson, Will Sutton, Chris Young, Carl Bradford (2nd run), Chris Coyle (2nd hard), Alden Darby (2nd try), Oshaon Irabor (2nd try), Stefon Martin, Robert Nelson (2nd try), Will Sutton (2nd try), Chris Young (2nd try), LeQuan Lewis, Mike Wilie, Justin Tryon, Derek Hagan, Ryan McFoy.
Will Sutton & Carl Bradford
Both Will Sutton and Carl Bradford decided not to participate in the weight room drills after already working out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. They did however participate in the on the field drills. Both re-ran the 40yd dash, and both improved their time.
Sutton was clocked at the Combine at a 5.36, but in the low 5.2 range according to scouts at Pro Day. Bradford who ran a 4.76 at the Combine was able to shave his time and run a 4.64.
It's not uncommon for NFL prospects to perform best at their university's own Pro Day. The pressure since the Combine has cooled, and players get somewhat of a "home field" advantage by working out in a more familiar setting. Sutton and Bradford's performances at ASU's 2014 Pro Day should raise their stock as the draft gets closer.
Interestingly, Bradford was evaluated by some teams at fullback. He hasn't played the position since attending Norco High School before heading to ASU.
After a year removed from the NFL after a 6-year career, ASU's Derek Hagan is looking to make a comeback. At Pro Day, Hagan turned a few heads by clocking a 4.51 40yd dash.
Other Sun Devils who Turned Heads at ASU's 2014 Pro Day
Davon Coleman put up an impressive 35 reps on the bench-press. Coleman has a visit with the Dallas Cowboys on Apr. 16.
Gannon Conway and Evan Finkenberg had 34 and 26 reps respectively.
Alden Darby had a strong 36.5” vertical leap. Darby has upcoming visits with Chicago, Arizona and Baltimore. He will also be working out at ASU on March 17 for the New England Patriots.
Gannon Conway ran the 40yd dash in the mid 4.8s.
Derek Hagan ran the 40 in 4.51.
Ryan McFoy ran the 40 in 4.48.
Rober Nelson clocked a lightning 4.45.
Marion Grice – did not participate in major workouts.
The 2014 NFL Draft is held in New York City, May 8-10
Mar 02, 2014 - 05:55 pm -
Carl Bradford was a 2nd team All-PAC 12 selection in 2013, but his most productive year at ASU came in 2012. Bradford had 81 tackles, 11.5 sacks and averaged 1.58 tackles for loss each game. Bradford finished his career at ASU with 21.5 sacks.
At the Combine, Bradford’s measurables show that he has a stockier build, weighing in at 250 lbs. and with shorter arms than the NFL average. Bradford tested especially well in the Broad Jump placing 5th out of all LB’s at the Combine. His Vertical Jump was also above the league average. These two drills are usually used to gauge a player’s “explosiveness”. Bradford may have shorter arms, but he more than makes up for it with his lower body strength.
Carl Bradford's Size
Average NFL Size for the Linebacker position
Bradford has instinctive playmaking abilities. Using his explosiveness to get into the backfield quickly, he makes plays on the ball carrier. He’s an effective pass rusher, who can line up on his feet and rush the passer.
Carl Bradford's Combine Performances
Combine Averages for NFL Linebackers
Bradford is undersized and his shorter arms may give him trouble disengaging from blockers at the NFL level. He has a tendency to lower his head and go for the home-run-hit and sometimes ends up missing the ball carrier completely. Bradford had a sideline altercation this season with teammates that got physical and led to him getting benched for the 2nd half of the game against Oregon State.
Brandon Spikes (OLB, New England Patriots) - Both Bradford and Spikes are undersized LB’s who play fast, strong and with emotion.
Possible NFL Teams
Tampa Bay has just hired new coach, Lovie Smith, who is known for having a stout defense with a strong LB core. Bradford could be just the right talent to fit in and add to that young talented defense in Tampa.
The Pittsburgh Steelers run a 3-4 defense that utilizes their OLB to blitz often. Bradford could bring some speed to an aging pass rush, and he would fit in with that tough smash mouth brand of defense that has made the Steelers famous.
Another interesting fit for Bradford would be here in Arizona. The Cardinals also run a 3-4 and Bradford could fit into the pass-rushing scheme perfectly. With aging players on their defensive front, Bradford could definitely bring a skill set that they need.
Much like his ASU teammate, Will Sutton, Bradford is undersized, but his explosive potential and ferocious game film shows a much bigger defender. Alas, Bradford is a “tweener” who looks to fall in rounds 3-5.
In the end being drafted in the higher rounds is flashy and it gains a lot of attention, but being drafted at all is truly special. Most players don’t get that opportunity, so I hope these Sun Devils will. If they don’t however, all hope is not lost. All they need to do is look at what ASU's Vontaze Burfict did this past season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
After going undrafted Vontaze debuted in 2012, but it was this past season where he got the opportunity to truly show his stuff. He lead the entire NFL in tackles in 2013, was named to the 2nd team All-Pro roster and made the 2013 Pro-Bowl roster. Sutton and Bradford have one more chance to improve their draft stock this Friday, March 7, at the ASU Pro Day in Tempe.
Mar 01, 2014 - 03:30 pm -
Arizona State's Will Sutton participated in last weekend's NFL Combine. Let's take a look at Sutton's story coming into the draft along with his strengths and weaknesses. I'll provide my projections of his spot in the draft and the possible destinations where he'll start his pro career.
Sutton is coming off a disappointing 2013 season where his numbers took a dip, but he was still rewarded with PAC-12 defensive player of the year honors. In his previous two seasons, Sutton weighed 285 lbs. He gained weight for 2013, likely to overcome the undersized stereotype, bulking up to 300 lbs. Unfortunately, the weight gain slowed Sutton's initial burst and first step quickness that made him such a dominating force in 2011 and 2012 when he was named a first team All-American.
At the combine Sutton still looked heavy, and his workout wasn’t very impressive. Comparing his numbers to NFL averages over the past 5 years, his measurables show that he doesn’t have the prototypical NFL build, and unfortunately his workout stats aren’t going to wow NFL personnel. It should be noted that Sutton is still in the process of reducing his weight to recover more explosiveness.
Sutton's figures from the combine:
Will Sutton - Size
NFL Averages for Defensive Tackles over the past 5 years
Sutton's performances at the combine
NFL Combine Averages for Defensive Tackles over the past 5 years
Effective pass rusher in CFB. Has an arsenal of refined pass rushing moves including the spin. Game film shows a much more explosive player than the stats at the Combine.
At his current weight, Sutton fits in as more of a NT than a pass rushing DT. Coaches will want to see him playing at his more natural weight of 290 lbs. Questions about Sutton’s competitive drive have come into play. He has a bit of a reputation for taking plays off and “disappearing” at times during games. Work ethic will definitely be a question when NFL scouts and GM’s interview Sutton.
Possible NFL Teams:
Chicago desperately needs depth at DT with injuries plaguing the position last year and possible losses to free agency this year. By adding Sutton, the Bears could improve one of the worst defenses in team history.
Dallas is another team that had issues on the defensive side of the ball last year. Adding Sutton to pair up next to Demarcus Ware could give Dallas an added threat for opposing teams to game plan around.
Lastly, Sutton could really excel in Kansas City. With all of the other pass rushers around him, Sutton would likely be facing a single blocker most of the time, which would be to his advantage.
I believe Sutton will be taken in rounds 3-5.
Tomorrow, I will provide my analysis of Sun Devil Carl Bradford and his performance in the NFL Combine.
Feb 24, 2014 - 09:10 am -
Sun Devil Receiver #80 Derek Hagan (2002-2005)
On August 9, 2013, JC transfer wide receiver Jaelen Strong became academically eligible to play football in the upcoming season at ASU. Game #1 would kick off in less than 30 days and Strong, who had high marks from recruiting services, was expected to come in and immediately contribute.
Strong was admittedly not in the best shape since he had yet to work with ASU's Strength & Conditioning Coach, Shawn Griswold. Camp Tontozona would be Strong's first real taste of the speed and toughness that Head Coach Todd Graham demanded of his players. At the same time, he was challenged with learning the new playbook and his role in ASU's offense.
As it turned out, Strong was a quick study. Since his first few weeks in Tempe, he has established himself as a true Division I threat. Strong has everything and he knows how to use it: size, strength, athleticism, good large hands and above average speed for a 6' 4" athlete. With Strong, OC Mike Norvell has added a potent weapon in the passing game, something his offense desperately needed.
Jaelen Strong's first year production
Due to Strong's accomplishments in his short time at ASU, some fans have made comparisons between him and the great Derek Hagan who wore the Maroon & Gold from 2002-2005.
Derek Hagan played in every one of ASU’s 50 games in his four seasons. In that time, he eclipsed the numbers of legendary Sun Devil receiver, John Jefferson.
Hagan became ASU's all-time leader in receptions (258), receiving yards (3,939), 100-yard games (18), receiving touchdowns (27) along with average receiving yards per game. How's this for a feat -- he averaged over 100 yards per game throughout his junior and senior seasons. All of Hagan's records are still in tact.
Derek Hagan's career stats at ASU
For fun, let’s project the future stats of Jaelen Strong and compare his figures with those of Derek Hagan. We'll assume that Strong forgoes the NFL Draft in 2015 (a very real possibility) and plays all 3 years of eligibility in Tempe. In doing so, we’ll multiply Srong’s 2013 performance by three.
Jaelen Strong vs Derek Hagan. This is how the two players would compare under these circumstances...
Jaelen Strong over his sophomore, junior & senior seasons:
225 Receptions - 3,366 Yards - 15 Yard Avg - 21 TD’s
Derek Hagan over his sophomore, junior & senior seasons:
226 Receptions - 3,534 Yards - 16 Yard Avg - 27 TD’s
Now lets balance Hagan’s individual season performances with Strong’s impressive first season. Hagan twice caught more than 75 passes (Jaelen’s 2013 total), twice caught more than 1,122 yards (Jaelen’s 2013 total), twice averaged over 15 yards per catch (Jaelen’s 2013 average) and in three of his four seasons, Hagen caught more than 7 touchdown passes (Jaelen’s 2013 total).
Current Sun Devil Receiver #21 Jaelen Strong
Additionally, the Sun Devils played only 12 games during Derek Hagan’s sophomore, junior and senior seasons. ASU played 14 games in Strong’s first year.
Is it possible that Jaelan Strong will be more productive this year than he was in 2013? Absolutely. Do you think he's determined to blow out his first campaign as a Sun Devil this year? I could be wrong, but I think I can safely say on Mr. Strong's behalf, "Hell Yes."
In one season that included just 13 pre-season practices between the two, Jaelen Strong and Taylor Kelly developed great chemistry. Couple that with how fast Strong has transitioned from the JC level to Division I, and it's reasonable to assume that his ceiling is much higher.
The “challenge” for Strong individually this year is that ASU’s receiving corp is loaded with incoming 4-star talent. The Devils also have young receivers already on the roster like speedster Cameron Smith and the tough & physical Ellis Jefferson. A team-first player, Strong should firmly remain the leader of the group, but it’s possible that his receptions drop off some.
On the flip side, if you look at Derek Hagan’s record setting receptions and remember that he shared the load with the likes of Terry Richardson, Rudy Burgess and Zach Miller, perhaps Strong will catch even more passes in 2014. These are the type of quandaries that any die hard Sun Devil fan should enjoy mulling over.
Jaelen Strong is an exciting, elite college football receiver who should garner more national attention this fall. But ten years ago, ASU's Derek Hagan set the bar extremely high, even for someone with the talent of Jaelen Strong, to challenge his spot at the top.
Check back with DieHard Devil tomorrow for the official DieHard Interview with the best receiver to ever wear the Maroon & Gold...
Feb 06, 2014 - 07:42 pm - Damn it feels good to be a Devil.
Yesterday, ASU Head Coach Todd Graham and his staff received 25 faxes from targeted recruits. However they sent out 26 scholarship offers.
Kalen Ballage from Falcon High School in Falcon, Colorado, had that 26th letter.
NCAA recruiting stipulates that a university can send out only as many National Letters of Intent as they have openings in their class. It wasn't until 7:00am EST on Wednesday that each prospect could fax in a signed letter to their chosen university. Until then, their is no binding agreement because verbal commitments are not enforceable.
Ballage had multiple letters in hand and had scheduled his announcement for Wednesday afternoon at his high school. Coveted recruits who wait until signing day often schedule a public announcement so that teammates, friends, family and the media can attend.
Due to extreme snow drift, Ballage's High School had to close yesterday so he rescheduled for 3:30 pm today. This morning when he woke up, the weather persisted and he could barely leave his home.
Kalen Ballage is a 6'2" 215LB 4* Athlete. He runs runs 40 yards in under 4.4 seconds.
Kalen Ballage is a mature kid. He carries a 3.6 GPA. He's confident but humble and emphasizes the team aspect of football. It's not all about him. So faced with the situation today, Kalen decided to forgo any public announcement and inform the universities that were vying for his signature of his final decision.
UCLA felt confident that they were going to lock up Ballage's commitment after his official visit in Westwood over the weekend. The Bruins, despite a lack of sustained success over the years, have always pulled in top ranked classes. It is a respected academic university, and naturally recruits are wooed by the beautiful surroundings of West Los Angeles. Mix in the heightened media market and Hollywood panache of LA, and the Bruins frequently beat out competing schools for prospects.
At about 10:00 am MST this morning and after much deliberation, Kalen Ballage signed one letter of intent. Then he faxed it to the Carson Athletic Center at Arizona State.
The Sun Devil's class of 2014 is now complete. Official recruiting services rank ASU's group within the Top-20 nationally, and the news has reverberated throughout an energized Sun Devil Nation.
Damn it feels good to be a Devil.
Sun Devil Kalen Ballage - Falcon High School - Junior Year Highlights
HUDL: Sun Devil Kalen Ballage
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