As college football goes through its late-season matchups and rivalry games you would think that teams would have their offensive and defensive schemes down, continue working on being consistent on both sides of the ball, and start peaking as we get to bowl season. However, if you are Arizona State you have a different way of looking at things.
During the summer we were told that this Sun Devil team had all the potential to be a possible college football playoff team. Once that possibility was spoke of, it just may have been the kiss of death for Arizona State because they have not even come close to resembling that team that was talked about in July and August.
What have been the issues for the Sun Devils? Where do you want me to start?
First of all, the Sun Devils can’t get any consistency on the offensive side at all. The consistency part starts with the offensive play calling and that starts with Sun Devil offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. Norvell by all accounts is considered a head coach in waiting for some school in the future, but if this season is taken into account Norvell may not be getting any head coaching possibilities anytime soon.
Norvell’s play calling has been predictable, boring, and unimaginative. Do you want me to keep going? For an offense that tries to go up-tempo and move the ball quickly it has rarely got to that. Against Washington State, they had tempo going, they were running the ball effectively, but when they got inside the 20 Norvell decided to start throwing the ball. By doing this he halted any rhythm the offense had and took the ball out of Kalen Ballage’s hands. That was only one instance in a season full of them.
The other aspect of Norvell and his high-flying offense is that he has a quarterback that is more of a pro-style type than a spread quarterback. Mike Bercovici inability to run the zone read is making this offense stagnant. Teams are literally having their defensive ends come crashing down off the edge knowing full well that Bercovici is not going to keep the ball and run. Having Bercovici back there not only makes it stagnant, but it also makes the offense predictable.
Defensively, the Sun Devils can’t tackle to save their lives right now. Last Saturday afternoon against the Washington Huskies there was at least 10-12 missed tackles and it just about cost them the game that they won 27-17. The Sun Devil defense wants to make the shoulder tackle even more popular than it is in college football. The art of tackling has been lost on college football players. They don’t do it anymore. What they do is try to bring them down with their shoulder(s). Maybe it’s a skill they don’t practice as much or feel they don’t need to, but in reality, it certainly is a skill that needs to be practiced. The Huskies had multiple times when they should have been stopped for a loss, only to end up getting a positive gain out of it because of the lack of wrapping up by the Sun Devils.
The defensive backs are letting receivers get wide open and run away from them. Something has to be done with the scheme because whatever schemes they have been using are not working. More jam techniques need to be employed and not giving free releases to these Pac-12 receivers.
At the end of the day, the Sun Devils had all the potential in the world to be a phenomenal team and to really make some noise in the Pac-12, and even around the country this year. It’s been a season of could have, should have, would have for Arizona State and as a consequence they’ll be in a lower-tier bowl game, or maybe not even make it to a bowl game. The Sun Devils need to give something to their fans that allows them to get excited for 2016. That something starts now with their rivalry game against Arizona.