The 2011 season is over. That means report cards are due.
Up next: Arizona State
Offense: It's difficult to find too much fault with an offense that averaged 446 yards and 33.15 points per game, numbers that ranked in the top-five of the Pac-12 and top-30 in the nation. Quarterback Brock Osweiler broke through in his first full year as a starter into an A-list quarterback and leader, while receiver Gerell Robinson also found himself after an up-an-down career. When healthy, running back Cameron Marshall was one of the top-five or so backs in the league. Lots of credit should go to coordinator Noel Mazzone -- now with Jim Mora's staff at UCLA -- who in two years transformed an anemic offense into a potent one. Questionable areas? The Sun Devils sometimes struggled to convert touchdowns in the redzone, were mediocre on third down and couldn't seem to put together decisive drives in the fourth quarter of games during their second-half collapse.
Defense: The Sun Devils get graded on a negative curve, as their mediocre numbers feel much worse based on the talent on hand, starting with the Pac-12's most disappointing player: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict had long been a difficult presence in the locker room, but his liability on the field previously had been only about boneheaded penalties -- notably personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The problem this season was he missed tackles, couldn't get off blocks and disappeared during long stretches of games. And this isn't a sour grapes, "Vontaze won't talk to the media" deal. He didn't even earn honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors from the coaches vote. It's fair to wonder how things might have gone if two unit leaders, cornerback Omar Bolden and linebacker Brandon Magee, hadn't suffered season-ending knee injuries. The Sun Devils gave up 419 yards and 26 points per game and were bad against the pass, yielding a 66 percent completion rate. During the five-game losing streak to end the season, the defense gave up 40 points per game.
Overall: The Sun Devils played two seasons. The 6-2 start was, at worst, a B+. The 0-5 finish was an F, and it felt even worse based on the early season optimism. Further, the collapse got coach Dennis Erickson fired, and the process of hiring Todd Graham to replace him couldn't be described as a well-oiled machine finding a candidate that reinvigorated the fan base. Then Osweiler surprises many with his decision to bolt to the NFL. The program, in fact, feels pretty low at present. Still, the Sun Devils won six games and played in a bowl game. The season can't be considered a total failure. Just close to it.