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August 11, 2007

Defense takes scrimmage

Arizona State's first-team defense largely shut down the team's offense in Saturday's Camp Tontozona scrimmage, played in front of an estimated 4,000 fans.

The Sun Devils managed just two touchdowns on the day, both coming late in the scrimmage. Brent Miller had an acrobatic 15 yard scoring reception from Rudy Carpenter on first-team's final possession, and reserve running back Jarrell Woods had a 30 yard scoring run.

Another touchdown came on a beautiful seam pass from Carpenter to Kyle Williams, but it was negated due to a Julius Orieukwu holding penalty on the play.

Several members of the defense had stand out performances, including Michael Marquardt and Luis Vasquez along the line, Robert James at linebacker, and Jeremy Payton in the secondary.

"It's a typical first scrimmage," coach Dennis Erickson said. "There were a lot of mental mistakes out there that are easily fixed. You have an off-sides penalty on a touchdown early in the scrimmage. We had some face mask penalties. We had some penalties that you just can't have that can end up costing you a game."

Carpenter completed 8-of-17 passing attempts for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Backup Danny Sullivan was 7-of-16 for 58 yards.

True freshman Kerry Taylor was the leading receiver on the day, with five catches for 87 yards. He played extremely well and had one of the top catches, a one-handed grab over the middle with a defensive back closing on him. Kyle Williams also played well with three catches for 31 yards.

Ryan Torain had eight carries for 60 yards. Keegan Herring had eight carries for 50 yards, including a 36-yard scamper that was one of the day's highlights.

But it was several costly penalties and other mistakes that had Erickson a bit unhappy after the scrimmage.

"I wasn't surprised that we were going to have some mental fatigue because we've been going for a long period of time," Erickson said. "We were in pads yesterday and we've been going like a son of a gun. Now to come out here in this heat and go for quite a while, you're going to have some mental mistakes.

"I thought defensively we did some darn good things. Our attitude has got to be, defensively, is to be physical, be aggressive, and run like heck. That's what we're preaching. You're going to make some mistakes doing that but that's alright. That attitude is not where we need it to be but I think we had a start today."

The competition for first-string place kicker seemingly got even more interesting on Saturday, less than 24 hours after Erickson conceeded that backup Zach Richards, a true freshman walk-on from Phoenix Thurnderbird High, could challenge Thomas Weber for the position.

Richards made three 42-yard field goals while Weber connected on field goals of 32 and 47 yards, but missed badly on a 42-yard attempt.

Interestingly, Weber may push anticipated starer Jonathan Johnson for the starting punting duties. Weber averaged 47.6 yards on five punts, while Johnson had one punt for 40 yards.

Several players were injured during the scrimmage including Rudy Burgess, Tranell Morant, Dimitri Nance and Rodney Glass. Burgess pulled up lame while running a route early in the scrimmage and had what was being called a minor calf injury. Morant suffered a slight MCL sprain in his knee. Glass needed stitches to his chin after being leveled by Littrele Jones on the hit of the day.


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