October 14, 2008

ASU coaches looking at position changes

The Arizona State football team has made some personnel changes to the offensive line over the past several weeks, but following the team's fourth consecutive loss, Tuesday's practice was more of an overhaul up front.

Coach Dennis Erickson said he and the coaching staff are still looking for the right combination of linemen who will provide enough protection for the quarterback.

"We're trying to get better [up front]," he said. "We're just moving those guys around."

Erickson said another reason for all the changes is because of injuries to several offensive linemen.

Paul Fanaika and Matt Hustad did not practice Tuesday due to injuries.

Erickson said Hustad will have surgery to "reconstruct" his injured knee in the upcoming weeks and that the surgery will end Hustad's season.

"That's part of the reason we're doing some of those things because we're running out of tackles," Erickson said.

Among the guys who were practicing, left tackle Jon Hargis appears to be the only starter from last week who will keep his starting spot uncontested.

At right tackle, Tom Njunge was splitting first team reps with Shawn Lauvao, who has started at left guard all season.

Zach Schlink was lined up at Lauvao's old spot.

Adam Tello received first team reps at right guard. Erickson said he believes Tello is much more suited to play inside than out at tackle.

At center, Thomas Altieri and Garth Gerhart split reps with the No. 1 offense.

With the second unit, Lauvao or Njunge was at right tackle, Schlink played right guard, Altieri or Gerhart was in the middle, Brent Good lined up at left guard and Mike Marcisz was playing left tackle.

Safety switch

The offensive line wasn't the only position with new faces Tuesday.

Ryan McFoy, who was second-team weak-side linebacker, and true freshman Keelan Johnson, who had been playing scout-team wide receiver, were both playing safety.

Clint Floyd, who had been starting at strong safety, was not at practice due to a lacerated kidney that he suffered against USC. Erickson said Floyd could return between two and four weeks from now.

Erickson said with Floyd and Max Tabach (knee) out, the safety position was so thin they had to move some guys there.

Even if Floyd does not return this season, he could not use a redshirt, Erickson added.

"We've got to start covering ourselves," Erickson said. "Fortunately we have a week off with all that stuff coming down. At least we'll be able to experiment with some things."

McFoy did not find out he was being moved to safety until a couple of hours before practice started.

He went to the linebackers meeting and Coach Craig Bray told him to go to find the safeties.

McFoy played safety in 2006 as a true freshman, but he has been a linebacker the past two seasons. He said the transition back will not be easy, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field.

"It brought back a lot of memories out there at safety," McFoy said. "I have to get back into back pedaling and reading receivers, but I have a better understanding of the defense.

"I just have to get back in my safety mentality and we'll see where it goes from there."

Erickson did not say whether McFoy's move will be permanent.

Johnson played one season of safety in high school and he said his first day lined up at safety at ASU was "a little rough."

"It was a little scary," Johnson said. "Coming over here in college playing safety, there are a lot of guys who are just as fast as you."

Johnson took reps at both safety spots and saw some action with the first team, however, Erickson said he did not expect to play Johnson in a game this season.

McFoy took reps with the No. 2 defense behind Troy Nolan.

Angelo Fobbs-Valentino (knee) returned to practice Tuesday and he was wearing an orange jersey designated for non-contact players.

Erickson said walk-on Mike Callaghan could see some playing time at safety as well.

Rudy watch
Quarterback Rudy Carpenter was in street clothes Tuesday and Erickson said he will not practice until at least Sunday.

Junior Danny Sullivan took reps with the No. 1 offense and Samson Szakacsy was with the second team.

Quick hits

Defensive tackle David Smith (stingers) was in full pads Tuesday and was limited in practice. He took reps early on but did not participate in team drills.

Long snapper Thomas Ohmart suffered a torn labrum against USC and was in a sling Tuesday. Erickson said Ohmart will be available when ASU faces Oregon on Oct. 25.

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