August 11, 2008

Sun Devils pick up intensity level Monday

Defensive line coach Grady Stretz apparently felt his position group needed to step up its intensity during Monday's workout, and he set the tempo early in the session with a unit period that was significantly more intense than any in recent days.

That effort seemed to spread throughout the squad, and the Sun Devils clearly had their best morning workout of camp to this point.

"A lot better today compared to yesterday during that scrimmage," coach Dennis Erickson said. "And that's how it's got to be. Those (defensive linemen) are the guys that set the intensity on defense. We'll look at the tape. I thought it was better totally.

"I thought offensively it was pretty good (as well). The enthusiasm was better. We had a tough day yesterday and I can understand why. Now the excuses are gone."

In 11-on-11 work, the defensive line accounted for numerous sacks, with Luis Vasquez being particularly disruptive with the first-team and several defensive end reserves, most prominently Jamaar Jarrett also showing well.

Linebacker Ryan McFoy was covering a lot of ground defensively and his play led to a number of would-be sacks and or quarterback hurries.

In the defensive backfield, Travis Smith had a segment where he had two interceptions and a pass break up in a three play series, and both picks would have likely gone for six points the other way.

Smith's deflection should have been a third interception but he just dropped it, a result which drew quite a bit of teasing from teammates on the sidelines who remembered Smith's claim that he was an all-city receiver in high school.

Center spot

First-string center Thomas Altieri was knocked out of action early in the workout on helmet-to-helmet contact with Saia Falahola during a five man drill.

"He's got a slight concussion it looks like," Erickson said of Altieri. "I don't think it's anything serious but with those things you can miss a couple three days."

With Altieri likely to miss one or more practices, Erickson said anything could happen in the battle for the starting nod at that position, with Garth Gerhart already nipping on Altieri's heels.

"That's a flip coin anyway," Erickson said. "I wouldn't want to be out of there very long. That's a flip coin. That's evaluated every single day. Somebody goes out, now you've got to go back and earn it. That's just the nature of football. Garth has improved all the time. That's one point we brought up a couple days ago in looking at tape how much he's improved in the last three or four days."

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