September 1, 2008

Erickson pleased with energy of first-team

With the first game of the season behind the Sun Devils and the first win under their belts, Coach Dennis Erickson has a better feel for his team and knows what areas need improvement.

The areas of the game Erickson liked and disliked were obvious.

He liked what quarterback Rudy Carpenter did in the passing game and the protection the offensive line provided.

He liked the intensity the first unit came out with and how focused they were for the first game of the season.

"At times we played well, particularly in the first 30 minutes of the game and as I mentioned the other day the first two series of the second half on both sides," Erickson said. "Rudy really threw it extremely well. He threw it accurately, got the ball off. Obviously as the season goes on it's going to get tougher and tougher but I thought he played pretty well."

And on the opposite end of the spectrum was the rushing attack and the play of the reserves.

Without starting running back Keegan Herring (hamstring), the running backs only gained 54 yards on 18 attempts and the back up players allowed all 13 of the Lumberjacks' points.

"(In the second half) we made some changes and substitutions and kind of lost the intensity level that we had… We had a lot of young guys in there. You can do what you want scrimmage-wise and you can do what you want out on the practice field, but [when]you get in a game with 60-some thousand people up in the stands when you're a young player you're going to make mistakes."

But all of those issues can be resolved, Erickson said.

The lack of rushing production was due in large part to the fact that NAU stacked eight men in the box for a majority of the game, so the ASU coaching staff was taking what the NAU defense was giving it.

"It's so early to tell," Erickson said. "You're looking at one football game where we played a team with an eight man front, so to me it's pretty hard to judge anything in our running game.

"Do we have to become better running the football? Without a doubt. There's no question about that…. To be successful you have to run the football and we have to be able to do it a little better than we did the other night. But again, if we were half way through the season and weren't running the ball good I would have some concerns about it. But just because of what they did to us we didn't run it that much."

And with the reserves, Erickson said some of their problem was youth and inexperience.

22 Sun Devils played in their first Division I football game Saturday. Erickson said some of them were "starry eyed" and that just having experiencing their first game will pay dividends next week.

So for now, ASU is working on correcting those issues and it is solely focused on the upcoming match up against conference-rival Stanford.

The Cardinal won their season opener against Oregon State, 36-28, and has improved a lot in their second season under Coach Jim Harbaugh.

"They've just improved in every area from a year ago," Erickson said of Stanford. "You watch them and it's a different group. Their offensive line is very physical, run the ball extremely well, which is what they did against Oregon State. And defensively they're playing better.

"The attitude from the time Jim has taken over has been an unbelievable change and they're a really good football team so we're going to have to be prepared."

Notes

*Erickson said Herring is still a question mark for Saturday's game against Stanford.

The senior running back did not run with the team in conditioning work Sunday because of his bothersome hamstring.

*Junior running back Shaun DeWitty (hamstring) who missed last Saturday's game may miss the upcoming contest as well.

*Safety Angelo Fobbs-Valentino will have an MRI Tuesday on the medial collateral ligament he injured against NAU.


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