ASU receives a pretty favorable ranking in the preliminary USA Today coaches poll that was released this morning. Coming in at #16, following the traumatic loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl, is something to be proud of.
An initial glance might cause some to wonder why the high ranking? ASU's offensive line was in turmoil, they are going to be starting a lot of new players on both sides of the ball, and the schedule is not as favorable, with a glaring 4th week game against #1 Georgia at home staring the boys in maroon and gold in the face.
However, with Rudy Carpenter firmly entrenched at quarterback in his second year in Dennis Erickson's system, a slew of returning starters at skill positions, and the best recruiting class ASU has seen in years, there is reason to believe ASU could be climbing the polls quickly.
A quick glance shows many familiar Pac-10 teams in the mix. USC comes in at a close #2, Oregon is at #20. It looks like Cal is #32 and Oregon State is #35. UCLA looks like #47, and if we should even count their single vote probably given by their own coach, Arizona is at #54. Essentially, coaches have handed ASU the reins to second place in the Pac-10. Not bad - but let's see what we can do to change some minds.
A look at some positional battles, possible impact freshmen, and returning starters will follow in the next few weeks as we lead up to the season.