September 23, 2008

Sun Devils looking at first-team options

When the ASU football lost its second consecutive game on Saturday, Coach Dennis Erickson said he would consider making some personnel changes to get his team back on track.

And when the Sun Devils took the practice field Tuesday, he stuck to his word.

"We're trying to find the right combination to win some games," Erickson said. "So obviously this is a time when we can do that during the bye-week.

"We're trying to make us the best football team that we can."

Some of the players who received first team reps included defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, linebackers Morris Wooten and Colin Parker, safety Clint Floyd, right tackles tackles Matt Hustad and Tom Njunge, center Garth Gerhart and right guard Zach Schlink.

"We've got to look at the tape tomorrow and see who is doing what," Erickson said, "and we're not afraid to make changes."

Last week, when there were position battles at cornerback and right tackle, Erickson said those battles helped keep the practice intensity at a high level.

Tuesday was no different.

There was a lot of energy at practice with live hitting drills and even some live 11-on-11 work too.

"This was one of the better practices we've had," Erickson said. "[It was] very intense and pretty physical."

Back at it

After missing the season's first three games due to a suspension, Wooten was excited to get back on the field Saturday against Georgia.

While he was ASU's leading tackler, Wooten said he felt a little bit rusty in his first game since late November.

"Everything seemed a little fast," he said. "I feel like with that game under my belt I'm going to be able to see it a little better, be able to blitz better.

"I was seeing things alright, but there's room for improvement. I've been out since Thanksgiving. But once Cal comes around, I'll get the speed in me and I'll be able to bring it to Cal."

And the extra energy Erickson said the team had Tuesday, a lot of it was coming from Wooten.

During position drills, Wooten was hitting as hard as any linebacker. Then during team drills, he was all over the field making plays against both the run and the pass.

"I just want to be intense," Wooten said.

Taking it easy

One of the advantages of a bye-week, Erickson said, is to let some of the proven players with minor injuries take it easy during practice.

Linebacker Travis Goethel was the only player wearing an orange jersey, designated for non-contact players, on Tuesday and he did not participate in any drills with hitting.

Erickson said Goethel hurt his neck against UNLV.

Two other players who Erickson specifically said would see less practice time to heal their lingering injuries are wide receivers Mike Jones (Achilles) and Chris McGaha (toe).

Extra points

  • Running back Keegan Herring was a full participant Tuesday.

    But Erickson said he still wants to be cautious with Herring to make sure the senior is ready for Cal.

  • Defensive tackle Saia Falahola had surgery to fix a broken bone in his right hand Tuesday morning.

    Falahola was at practice with a cast covering his hand and his right arm was in a sling.

    Erickson said Falahola will be available for the Cal game.

  • Linebacker Brandon Magee (pectoral) was wearing full pads Tuesday, but did not participate in practice.

    Magee worked on agility drills and ran on the sidelines.

  • Tight end Dan Knapp suffered what was believed to be a minor concussion near the end of Tuesday's practice.

  • Linebacker Gerald Munns was not at practice Tuesday.

    Erickson said Munns is attending to with personal issues and that he will not be at practice all week.

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