September 25, 2008

Change at right tackle appears likely

Arizona State had just four rushing yards in the 27-10 loss to Georgia, the fewest in a game since 2002. Coach Dennis Erickson said he'd look at the possibility of making personnel changes along the offensive line, even joking on Tuesday about missing the "trading deadline."

"We're trying to find the right combinations to win some games," Erickson said. "This is the time we can do it, during the bye week. We'll look at the tape and see who is doing well, and we won't be afraid to make changes."

The most likely change figures to be at right tackle, where redshirt freshman Adam Tello started the first four games of the season. On Wednesday, Tello spent time at guard, while junior Tom Njunge and redshirt freshman Matt Hustad split reps with the first-team.

Njunge had been Tello's backup, and Hustad is just finally ready to play for the first-team this season after aggravating a knee injury last month.

Hustad, 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, sat out his freshman season after surgery to repair the knee, but is now looking like one of the more athletic and versatile linemen on the roster.

"He can play inside, he can play outside," Erickson said of Hustad. "Tello could go inside too. So we've developed some depth. Getting [Hustad] back, he can play center, there's a lot of things he can do. Right now we're just trying to concentrate on him at right tackle."

"Me and Tom, we're just pushing each other as much as we can," Hustad said. "If anything, we're just both getting a lot better. I'm pretty glad it is a bye week because I've only had three real practices at right tackle. So I'm glad I get a little more time to polish up."

Hustad said the team heard from the team's coaches about the offensive line's inability to help generate a rushing attack versus Georgia, and it's something the group has taken to heart.

"We want to run the ball more," Hustad said. "Running the ball is quite a bit different than pass. We need to just get out there and be hogs and just play. If you don't have the right attitude that you're going to just go out and dominate the person in front of you, I'm not sure how well you're going to do."

Although he played guard throughout his high school career, Hustad said a diverse athletics background has enabled him to pick up the tackle position more quickly than he otherwise would have.

"Guard you have to just go straight at the guy," Hustad said. "It's all about how physical you can be. Tackle, that kick-step (technique) is something. You can't just be aggressive as you can. If you throw your arms out they'll just throw them down and go past you. It's footwork and hands."

Guy making impression

True freshman Lawrence Guy was moved to defensive tackle from after the first two games of the season, and he's taken to it well according to his head coach.

"He's a surprising freshman," Erickson said. "He got so much better in the last game against Georgia from the first-game against Vegas where he played quite a bit. He's getting better all the time. He's got a lot of God-given talent and he has a chance to be really good down the road; and he's playing well for us right now."

Guy has worked with the first-team at the left defensive tackle position as Saia Falahola is out this week following surgery on his right hand.

Jabberjaw

Senior running back Keegan Herring has a well-earned reputation as one of most boisterous Sun Devils on the roster, but he wasn't quite his normal self the last month, as he was battling the hamstring injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the most part.

The last two practices, however, Herring has been a more regular participant and with a resurgence in his activity level has come a resurgence in his vocal presence. On Wednesday, he was more talkative than any workout since the season began.

"He's an up guy all the time, but sometimes when you're not playing, you get down a little bit," Erickson said. "Obviously when you're not practicing you lose a little bit of enthusiasm," Erickson said. "Obviously, [Tuesday] and [Wednesday] he hasn't lost it. It's good to see that back. That helps."

Erickson pleased with tempo

The Sun Devils have had practices that more closely resembled spring workouts or even camp-type sessions during the bye week, and they've performed with a high level of energy for the most part.

"It's what we need right now," Erickson said. "We need to be intense, we need to be physical. We need to do some things that are going to help us win some football games and get on the right foot. Last two days have been as good as we've had all fall."

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