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Arizona Sportspage


November 12, 2009 10:51 AM

Sullivan's time coming to an end?

Danny Sullivan photo3.jpg
Though it's not definitively certain, the Danny Sullivan era--as short as it has been--could be over.

The Arizona State University Sun Devils football team, with two games remaining in the season, are essentially on life support. The Sun Devils are 2-4 in Pac-10 Conference play and 4-5 overall. In order to qualify for a bowl game, ASU has to at least win two of its final three games of the year, two road games against Oregon and UCLA and a season finale at home against the Arizona Wildcats. ASU could win all three, but it's not likely. Oregon is always a tough team to play and the Wildcats are playing well with a legitimate shot at winning the conference. The Sun Devils may have an opportunity to defeat the Bruins, but it's a road game.

So the long road, otherwise known as the regular season leads us to this: The Sun Devils are disappointed, left with little to grasp onto and a change has to be made.

And it looks like head coach Dennis Erickson, even by default, is leaning toward making a big one. In a press conference Wednesday, Erickson said true freshman Brock Osweiler would 'probably' start Saturday on the road against the Oregon Ducks.

"Right now we'll probably start Brock," Erickson said. "I've got to see what happens tomorrow or (sophomore) Samson (Szakacsy) might be the second one. He's the one who's been getting the reps. We'll see how Danny's bicep is. It's really bothering him, he couldn't throw today. So with two days of practice, we'll see how Danny is tomorrow but right now I'd say we'll probably start Brock and let her fly in as bad an environment as you'll ever get."

Sullivan injured his bicep in last week's 14-9 loss to the USC Trojans.

If Sullivan's sore bicep doesn't feel better and he can't start Saturday, his time as the starting quarterback could be finished. And he probably never really had a fair shot the entire season.

Sullivan's never had the feeling that it was his team, since the beginning of the season. He's had to look over his shoulder most of the season and hear about the quarterbacks down the roster who could take his job.

It hasn't been a good working environment and isn't one conducive to individual success. Sullivan's had a difficult time completing passes while looking over his shoulder. Questions arose with each misread and Osweiler became more popular with each interception or not-so-good performance from his senior teammate. Sullivan hasn't been spectacular. He's thrown for 2,361 yards with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. He's completing 54 percent of his passes and has eclipsed more than 300 yards passing in a game just once (338 yards against Oregon State Sept. 26).

There was pressure at every snap and most throws could determine what fans thought of him on Monday morning. But with three games remaining in the season, and one game potentially lost to injury, moving forward and giving the younger quarterbacks an opportunity to get experience would be the right thing to do.

What would have happened if Sullivan had total confidence that he was the leader of the team? Could he have performed better? Would the Sun Devils have won a few more games because of it?

Security, one has to believe, has been a factor in his performance this year.

However, the coaching staff has a chance to see if Osweiler is the future. He has a strong arm and an aggressive approach to the game. But can he be a quality starter? It seems as though, the Sun Devils will have an idea soon.

The torch looks as though it could be passed. But one has to wonder. What could have happened?

If Sullivan was able to step into the role with no worries, how would he have played better? We'll never know. He's always had one foot out of the door.

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