August 18, 2008

Erickson remains confident in ASU offense

Watching film of Saturday's scrimmage confirmed for Dennis Erickson his initial impressions on the strong play of the defense, but he also said Monday he isn't particularly worried about the Sun Devil offense this season.

"The biggest thing is defensively we flew around, played hard, which is what we're going to have to do," Erickson said of the Camp Tontozona scrimmage. "That's got to be our personality. We can't ever let up. We ran to the football extremely well and tackled for the most part pretty well. I was happy with that.

"Offensively it was up and down. There were some good things and some bad things. I thought our first offensive line played pretty well. When you get down [to it] you've got to find some backups that are going to help. I thought Rudy (Carpenter) executed pretty well. We're a ways to go offensively but there's light at the end of the tunnel. I thought they came out today (Monday) offensively and executed pretty well."

The Sun Devils got some extensive work in the red zone Monday, and had a reasonably amount of success in the passing game there.

"It was better. I thought we executed quite a bit better," Erickson said. "Threw the football better. We're getting better. Everybody's concerned about that. I'm not really as concerned as other people. Having done this for many, many years I've seen it all. We'll be a good offensive team."

Part of the issue, Erickson admitted, was the team not having some of its biggest offensive weapons for much of the last week, including on Saturday.

"Any time you don't have playmakers it hurts," Erickson said. "That's the nature of the game. But we've got some other guys that are very capable of making plays. That's why they're on the team. If Mike (Jones) and Chris (McGaha) can't play, other guys have to step up. That happens all the time. You can't worry about that. You've got to play with the guys who are going to play. Other than their health, I can't worry about the guys who are hurt. We've got to get the guys who are ready to play ready to play."

Captains selected

Troy Nolan and Rudy Carpenter will be season-long captains, with others selected on a game-by-game basis.

"I always have elections for captions after we come back (from Tontozona) and we had election of captains yesterday and Troy and Rudy were pretty unanimous," Erickson said. "So what we'll do this year, we'll have those two all the time and then we'll have two game captains every week depending on whether they're seniors, how they played the week before, things like that."

Special teams

The Sun Devils have worked extensively on punt and punt coverage through the first two weeks of camp and Erickson said he feels better about both groups over last season.

"The coverage stuff, we feel like we have enough depth now, compared to last year, where we can have some guys that can flat run go down there and make some plays and maybe give some of the first guys a break if we can" Erickson said. "Punt is huge for us. Punt and punt cover and punt protection. They're all important but there is nothing that can be changed quicker than a punt being run back on you or a blocked punt. It's a huge field possession change. I'm excited about how they're doing. After the scrimmage I'm excited how Thomas (Weber) is punting the football too. We'll get more into kickoff return, kickoff coverage this week and we'll do some of that Thursday."

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