October 2, 2008
ASU to have at least two new starters Saturday
There will be at least two new starters on the field when the ASU football team takes the field Saturday at Cal. Safety Angelo Fobbs-Valentino was running around at practice for the first time since he injured his medial collateral ligament against NAU.
Over the past two weeks right tackle Tom Njunge and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy have been taking a majority of the reps with the first team, but Coach Dennis Erickson had not made a definitive statement as to whether they would start.
Thursday he made it official.
"Lawrence is going to start," Erickson said. "Saia [Falahola] has been nicked up a little bit and Lawrence has had a lot of the turns. Saia will alternate in there as will Paul 'Unga."
Erickson also confirmed that Njunge would earn the start over Matt Hustad at right tackle. Adam Tello has been bumped to third-team status after starting the team's first four games.
In the strong safety slot, Erickson has still not decided whether Clint Floyd or Rodney Cox will start, but Floyd continued to take first team reps Thursday. He has worked exclusively with the first-team in every practice since the loss to Georgia on Sept. 20.
Although the Sun Devils' offensive has been somewhat maligned to this point - ASU is ranked 110th of 119 FBS teams in rushing yards and 97th in sacks allowed - inserting Njunge will be the first change to the front five this season.
Right guard Paul Fanaika said the switch at right tackle has gone fairly smooth and that he has full confidence in the new guy lining up to his right.
"Tom has developed and come a long way since he has been out here and made a lot of improvement, that's why he's starting," Fanaika said. "He's a different guy in there, but he still has to do the same job the guy before him. Offensive line is offensive line."
The kicker's hand
Kicker Thomas Weber's broken hand appeared to be fine Thursday.
He punted the ball with no issues and was even high-fiving teammates with the injured hand.
Linebacker Brandon Magee was not taking reps with the No. 2 defense Thursday like he had been earlier in the week.
Colin Parker was in at strong-side linebacker with the second unit.
Earlier this week, Erickson said Magee would most likely only be used on special teams against Cal.
Magee has missed the past two games with a torn pectoral muscle. He practiced normally on Tuesday and early in Wednesday's workout before stopping mid-way through the session.
Running rack Ryan Bass has seen an increased work load in practice the past two weeks and the fumbling issues he had during fall camp seemed to have been largely corrected. Last week in particular, he was extremely solid.
However, Bass fumbled the football for the first time in weeks Thursday on a handoff quarterback Danny Sullivan.
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