The bye week has come and gone for Arizona State, and this week the Diablos are preparing for a Saturday afternoon clash with another middle-of-the-Pac team, the Cal Golden Bears in Berkeley. Cool place. Love Blondie's Pizza on Telegraph Ave. near campus.
Can someone please explain to me, as a neutral observer, what makes Oski the Bear a great mascot? He looks like a sad-sack bear with that lettermen's sweater on. But to each school their own.
OK, news of the day: The ASU-Washington State game, besides being lacking in much intrigue as far as many viewers/audiences are concerned given the mediocrity of the game, was not selected by the Pac-10 for TV on Oct. 30. So the game will kickoff at 4 p.m. as originally scheduled, giving fans a chance to make it to Halloween parties in the evening.
As for the Cal game, ASU coach Dennis Erickson said the bye week was good for the Devils, as they were able to get some rest and heal some injuries a little. The team is coming off a win at Washington on Oct. 9 and will resume a normal practice schedule this week.
Since 2000, ASU is 5-5 following the first bye week of the season. It is 4-8 all-time at Memorial Stadium (from which on a clear day has a stunning view of San Francisco Bay) and hasn't won at Cal since 1997.
This one, going by the current state of the conference, could go either way. Cal (3-3 overall, 1-2 Pac-10) has blown out three opponents in its three wins, yet been blown out by USC and Nevada and lost at Arizona 10-9 in the close game it has played.
"You just don't know what's going to happen," Erickson said. "UCLA beat Texas, now all of a sudden Texas beats Nebraska. You could go on and on. This league, it's really really interesting where you play and if you're ready to play or if you're not ready to play. I don't think anybody has that answer or else we would bottle it and sell it."
Should anything happen to quarterback Steven Threet, the Devils will likely turn to Samson Szakacsy. Brock Osweiler hasn't practiced for the last couple of weeks and had his back checked by a physician. He isn't able to throw right now and his availability for practice this week is also uncertain.
Erickson also said cornerback Deveron Carr is having his injured shoulder evaluated week to week - he was hurt at Oregon State Oct. 2 -- and that he'd be "surprised" if Carr came back to play. Carr might end up needing surgery in the next few weeks.
Asked what areas the Devils focused on the most during the bye, Erickson said simply getting better.
"Got a lot of our young players more time," Erickson said. "It was just a matter of improving on what we're doing, and then the last day we spent on Cal, but it was more about improving ourselves."
That improvement must manifest itself in winning four of their remaining six games in order to assure the Sun Devils (3-3, 1-2) of a bowl bid.