Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is this 2003 all over again?

That fellow to the left is Cornell Canidate. You might remember him.

He was supposed to be one of the featured tailbacks for Arizona State back in 2003, a year off of a surprising 8-4 regular season and near upset of #6 Kansas State in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

Oh, and those were those terrible, one-season wonders we called the Star Trek uniforms.

Regardless of horrible uniform choices, the 2003 season was one of the most colossal disappointments in college football that season.

With gunslinging quarterback Andrew Walter back in the fold as a junior Heisman Trophy candidate, a slough of talented receivers (Derek Hagan, Terry Richardson, Skyler Fulton and Daryl Lightfoot), a couple veterans in the backfield (Mike Williams and the aforementioned poster boy Canidate) and an exciting freshman running back (Loren Wade), the 2003 Devils entered the season ranked in the top 25.

A nationally prominent season never came. The Sun Devils stumbled out of the gate, barely getting by NAU and lowly Utah State (then featuring Chris Cooley, pre-indecent exposure!) before going on the road and getting trounced by Iowa and Oregon State, then losing to Matt Leinart and USC at home to start 2-3. The Devils never recovered, losing four of their last five on the way to a 5-7 record. It's the last time ASU missed the postseason.

Does any of that sound eerily familiar?

With gunslinging quarterback Andrew Walter Rudy Carpenter back in the fold as a junior senior Heisman Trophy candidate, a slough of talented receivers (Derek Hagan, Terry Richardson, Skyler Fulton and Daryl Lightfoot Mike Jones, Chris McGaha, Kyle Williams and Kerry Taylor), a couple veterans in the backfield (Mike Williams and the aforementioned poster boy Canidate Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance) and an exciting freshman running back (Loren Wade Ryan Bass), the 2003 2008 Devils entered the season ranked in the top 25.

Hm.

That 2003 team, with so much potential and so much hype from the previous season, folded under the pressure. Cornell Canidate and Mike Williams fought nagging injuries and, especially in the case of Canidate, were rendered completely ineffective throughout the season. The offensive line struggled to protect Walter.

Does any of this echo yet? It's 2003 all over again in Tempe this season.

2003 Schedule

Result

2008 Schedule

Result/Date

NAU

34-14 W

NAU

30-13 W

Utah State

26-16 W

Stanford

41-17 W

@ Iowa

21-2 L

UNLV

23-20 L (OT)

@ Oregon State

45-17 L

#3 Georgia

27-10 L

#10 USC

37-17 L

@ California

24-14 L

Oregon

59-14 W

@ #8 USC

October 11

@ North Carolina

33-31 W

Oregon

October 25

@ UCLA

20-13 L

@ Oregon State

November 1

California

51-23 L

@ Washington

November 8

@ Stanford

38-27 L

WSU

November 15

@ #8 WSU

34-19 L

UCLA

November 28

Arizona

28-7 W

@ Arizona

December 6


That's a look at the schedules for 2003 and 2008. In both seasons, the Devils got two wins against inferior opponents before dropping three straight. That game at North Carolina, a team who actually beat ASU in 2002 in Tempe, was won on the last play of the game when Walter hit Fulton for a game-winning touchdown. After that, it came apart at the seams.

Against UCLA, Andrew Walter was knocked out in the 1st half and true freshman Sam Keller had to finish the loss. California came into SDS and manhandled the Devils on Homecoming; a game most remembered for that ludicrous Tim Parker fake punt. And it all came to a crushing (literally) end in the Palouse in a game where safety Riccardo Stewart was taken off the field in an ambulance after a vicious hit left him with a neck injury.

The Devils are in severe trouble of letting 2008 turn into another 2003. In reality, though, this year's Devils may be in more dire straits than that '03 squad. That year, after the win at UNC, ASU was 4-3 and needed only two more wins to get at least bowl eligible. If the scenario plays out where the Sun Devils lose at USC and to Oregon, they'll be 2-5 and needing to WIN OUT to guarantee a bowl berth at 7-5. That record in 2005 got the Devils, another team that failed to meet expectations, a berth in the Insight Bowl.

The 2003 Sun Devils failed to get up off the mat after an early season gut check. It's up to the 2008 Sun Devils not to repeat history.

This season, at least, our guys in Maroon and Gold don't look like Trekkies.

2 comments:

Nick Saia (usa) said...

with all due respect, Rudy Carpenter in no way resembles Andrew Walter.

isharpe100 said...

The game is decided in the trenches. All we do is talk about the skilled positions and we alway come up short where it matters.