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August 29, 2009

Osweiler will back up Sullivan at quarterback

Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson cut right to the chase following Friday's mock game when asked about the backup quarterback situation in light of sophomore Samson Szakacsy's bothersome throwing elbow.

Erickson said true freshman Brock Osweiler will be the team's No. 2 signal caller.

"There is no question we are going to have to play Brock," Erickson said. "Unfortunately Samson's elbow is hurt again so you got to go with Brock and hopefully Samson can get healthy. So we can't afford to redshirt [Osweiler], we just can't do it.

"We made that decision yesterday. [Szakacsy will] take some snaps and come back and help us because he wants to compete for that job but right now his elbow is bothering him so you never know what is going to happen during the year."

The 6-foot-8 Osweiler got a jump start to his college career by graduating early from Flathead High School in Kalispell, Mont., so he could participate in spring football.

With the departure of former quarterbacks Chasen Stangel and Jack Elway, there was no scholarship alternative to Osweiler being the top backup in practice when Szakacsy's arm troubles began.

"It's something I've tried to prepare for," Osweiler said. "All I can do is go out there and do my best and do what coach tells me to do. Danny has done a great job and as far as our number one group goes I think they are going to come out and put on a big show next Saturday. All I can do is try to get better during the week and study the film, learn from my mistakes and play sound football."

Osweiler said he anticipated this possibility of playing as a true freshman when he made the decision to enroll early at ASU.

"It's a big thing to do but at the same time that is why I came down in January," Osweiler said. "It is not like I am nervous going out there. I am ready for it and I just have to play within myself and do whatever I can to help my teammates win."

Osweiler had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown by senior safety Jarrell Holman early in the mock game as the second-team offense went up against the top defense. But overall, Osweiler said he was pleased by the experience.

"I'm really comfortable," Osweiler said. "It is just about getting in a bunch of game situations. This is my first time out here under the lights, it's a little like a game situation, so it really changes a little of the feel of the game from practice. So to come out here and get this experience will really help my future."

Osweiler's classmate, running back Cameron Marshall worked with the second-team offense but Erickson said he remains unsure how the depth chart will look at the position for the season opener.

Osweiler and Marshall will be joined by linebacker Vontaze Burfict, defensive tackles William Sutton and Corey Adams as freshmen who have played their way off the redshirt list.

A decision on others, including tight end Max Smith and safety Matthew Tucker, will likely be made by Monday according to Erickson.

Overall, the coach said he was pleased by how his team performed Friday.

"We did what we wanted to get done," Erickson said. "We tried different situations and I thought we executed the situations pretty well on both sides of the football. Obviously there wasn't any tackling but it was more like a dress rehearsal and we accomplished that. We had a chance to do our two minute (offense) and everything we are going to see. It is different doing it out here as opposed to practice -- play calling -- getting it in before 25 or 40 seconds depending on the situation. That's things we've got to do. I haven't called plays in a couple years so it was good for me too."

Erickson said offensive lineman Zach Schlink and linebackers Shelly Lyons and Oliver Aaron will probably not participate in Saturday's season opener. Others, including offensive linemen Garth Gerhart and Tom Njunge and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, might play.


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