This is it: the 2011 football season is just one day away. After months of anticipation, lots of training camp, and several preseason polls, the Arizona State Sun Devils will finally take the field. We got our first look at the team during the first weekly press conference of the season, and here's what we found: coach and quarterback seem to be meshing.
Coach Dennis Erickson has significant confidence in starting quarterback Brock Osweiler. During the early portion of the press conference, Erickson was asked about the swift change that the Sun Devils have experienced at quarterback in the recent past (four different starting quarterbacks at the beginning of each of the past four years). Erickson had this to say: "This year, to me, is a little bit different in that Brock's been around the program. That makes a big difference...a guy that we felt would fit in with what we're trying to get done."
Erickson went on to say, "To me this is the first year that we're going in with, in my mind, a quarterback that we feel can do what we want to get done." That, my friends, is a big statement. To deal with the instability at quarterback that the Sun Devils have experienced in recent years and still believe in Osweiler- who has only two career starts- speaks volumes about Erickson's confidence in his starter.
And what exactly do the Sun Devils want to do on offense this year?
"We're gonna throw the ball vertically up the field a little more than we're used to." One thing that the Sun Devils lacked last season was some big-play bombs. It looks like the team will air it out more this year, behind the arm of Osweiler.
Osweiler seems to be ebbing with the same confidence that Erickson has in him. Addressing his improvement from last season, Osweiler said, "Last year, like I said, I left at about a little over 50 percent (completion percentage). And this year (in camp) I was over 70 percent."
That's a huge jump. Of course, fall camp isn't quite the same as a match-up in the Pac-12, and Osweiler can't be expected to consistently complete 70% of his passes. But he definitely has put in the time this offseason and has undoubtedly earned the trust of Erickson as a result.
The two seem to be on the same page, which is great news for the Sun Devils ahead of Thursday's season opener against UC- Davis. To some extent, the trajectory of this team will be determined by how these two perform over the next few months.
The unpredictability surrounding these Sun Devils this season is both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. As the season begins, keep in mind something that Osweiler aptly stated late in the press conference: "The sky's the limit."