ASU football coach Dennis Erickson and quarterback Rudy Carpenter were in Los Angeles Thursday to address the Pac-10 media on the upcoming season.
ASU was selected by the media members in attendance to finish second in the conference behind USC, who’s won six straight Pac-10 titles under coach Pete Carroll.
“Our league is so competitive,” Erickson said. “Obviously, USC has set a high standard, and that’s the reality of it.”
With Carpenter’s experience and a host of returning starters, ASU is poised to make a serious run at a BCS bowl. Erickson noted that it will be paramount to improve the offensive line this year, a unit that gave up 55 sacks last season.
Erickson also said that safety Jeremy Payton will not be returning to the team.
The reason, Erickson said, was that Payton wanted to move on after obtaining his undergraduate degree.
Payton was among the front-runners — including senior Rodney Cox — who were competing for the other safety position along side senior Troy Nolan.
Payton registered 26 tackles in 10 games of action last year, starting three.
Reach the reporter at: Alex.Espinoza@asu.edu