October 16, 2008

ASU begins Oregon prep

The Arizona State football team held practice Wednesday night at Bill Kajikawa Practice Field. Both sides of the ball, but particularly the defense, had good outings. Here are notes from the practice:

Still shuffling

One day after the Sun Devils made some major roster moves, those players were still in their new spots Wednesday.

The No. 1 offensive line from left to right was Jon Hargis, Zach Schlink, Thomas Altieri, Adam Tello and Shawn Lauvao.

However, Coach Dennis Erickson said some of those moves are temporary.

Next week, if right guard Paul Fanaika (leg) returns to practice as expected, he will return to his starting spot.

Also, Lauvao will slide back to his slot at left guard and Tom Njunge, who played with the second team Wednesday, will return to his starting right tackle position.

"We re-shuffled quite a bit because of some injuries and next week we'll get back to normal," Erickson said. "We played Shawn at tackle just in case somebody went down.
"It was a good week for those guys to play some different positions."

And in the defensive backfield, Ryan McFoy and Keelan Johnson continued to work at safety.

Johnson actually split time between scout team wide receiver and safety on Wednesday.

During 11-on-11 team drills, Johnson took some first and second team reps at safety and recorded two interceptions during the period.

McFoy worked with the second team at strong safety.

Settling in

Erickson has been very pleased with the recent improvement of quarterback Samson Szakacsy.

The redshirt freshman has practiced as the second-string quarterback the last two weeks due to Rudy Carpenter's ankle injury, and has noticeably progressed with the additional reps.

"He's picking the offense up better," Erickson said. "He's getting the football off on time, understanding what's going on. There's been a lot of improvement.

"He'll get better and better all the time."

Throughout the 2007 season and early in 2008, Szakacsy would often rely on his speed and tried to gain yards on the ground himself if his primary target was covered.

However, he has seemingly been reading the coverage better as of late and has limited his scrambling in practice.

One of the biggest issues for Szakacsy is the fact that his throwing elbow is still not 100-percent. Szakacsy had surgery on the elbow last fall.

"I'd say his arm is still 75-percent," Erickson said. "It's not there yet [but] it's going to be down the road."

Erickson said he didn't want to look ahead to the spring and the quarterback situation the team will face, but he did say there will be "a great competition in the spring with about four of them."

Early preparation

Although there is still a week and a half until ASU plays its next game, the team began some preparation for Oregon on Wednesday.

"We did a little bit [of Oregon preparation] and we'll do more tomorrow," Erickson said. "Offensively they do a couple of different things and have played a couple different quarterbacks and depending what quarterback is in there depends on how much option they run. So we've got a lot of preparation [to do] for them."

Injury update

Wide receiver Chris McGaha did not practice Wednesday after receiving a cortisone shot in his bothersome toe earlier in the day.

Erickson said McGaha will not practice until Sunday.

Running back Ryan Bass suffered a slightly pulled hamstring against USC. He was limited in practice Tuesday and did not participate Wednesday.

Erickson said he hopes to have Bass back Sunday as well.

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