Battle tested Sun Devils return home

Prior to last Saturday no one knew how Arizona State would fare against a team like Wisconsin, on the road and in front of a national audience. Although the ultimate outcome was less than favorable, the Sun Devils put together a performance that might have been their most impressive since the 2007 season.

"(The players) are upset, there's no question about it," said Arizona State had coach Dennis Erickson of his teams' 20-19 loss. "They should be. I was and I hope they are. You just have to put it behind you. It's over and done with now. We just have to get ready to play Oregon and see where it goes.

"We have nine football games left and one football game doesn't make a season. We know how good Oregon is so it's going to be a great challenge for us at home."

The Sun Devils arrived in from Madison late Saturday night and had to resume work about as soon as possible to prepare for their next opponent, the 5th ranked Oregon Ducks. In only three games this season, the Ducks have posted a gaudy 189 points against their opponents while only surrendering thirteen. In their last two trips to Tempe, Oregon combined for 102 points.

To be succinct, the Ducks are potent.

"I think they jump people for a numbers of reasons," Observed Erickson. "(Scoring early) might be a reason but they also have awfully good players. It takes time in a game to get used to (their offense)."

One advantage ASU might have over previous years is that the Sun Devils now run a more spread-oriented offense. Therefore Erickson's defense gets to practice against a wide-open offense which shares some similarities with the Ducks' scheme.

"It is (easier) because you face the no huddle," explained Erickson, "we sped up the offense all spring and camp. It's not like your facing it for the first time. So yes, there is no question about it. (The defense) sees it all the time so they'll be able to adjust better."

Junior quarterback Steven Threet won many Sun Devil fans over with his performance last Saturday, but the motivated signal caller is far from satisfied.

"(The Wisconsin game) was alright," Threet remarked. "We just have to finish when we get into the red zone. You can't come away with only three points on those first two drives. That hurts. We have to get the ball in the end zone when we get down there.

"The loss definitely stings. Like I said before, no one on this team believes in moral victories. We went in there trying to win the game point blank. We played alright, but we have to be able to finish in the red zone and pull games like that out. That's the difference between good teams and great teams."

The junior is well aware of how good of a team he and his fellow Sun Devils will be facing on Saturday, but he is doing his best to stay focused and avoid the hype surrounding this contest.

"It's a big opponent and it's a great team." Threet acknowledged. "We're trying to get any advantage we can and we hope to have Sun Devil Stadium rocking Saturday night. Our goal is just to go 1-0 this week. Oregon is the next team on the schedule so we're just going to do everything we can to prepare for them this week and get ready to go out and play hard on Saturday."

Despite the fact that the Oregon defense has finished 5 halves without a point surrendered, Threet isn't backing down from any challenges. He was also quick to applaud the defense he faces every week.

"We play against a great defense every day in practice," Threet said. "That gives us a great opportunity to prepare and they're a great defense also. We just do everything we can in practice and try to get ready."

Two positive surprises for ASU in the Wisconsin game were senior wide receiver Kerry Taylor and junior linebacker Oliver Aaron. Taylor came through with perhaps his best game in over two years and Aaron got his first real shot at meaningful playing time and shined.

"Kerry's been so consistent," noted Erickson. "It's fun to see him have the opportunity to flourish in the offense. This offense fits him perfectly. With the other receivers everyone kind of has their role. He's solid. He knows what's going on. He catches the football and understands what's going on. He's a great route runner is the best way to put it. He runs them with more precision than probably anyone else."

"(Aaron) played really well. We judge them every week and he had a really good football game when he came in and played. Right now he'll probably get the start for us."

At today's practice Aaron replaced Shelly Lyons at first team SAM linebacker.


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