"I'm excited about this football game Saturday, too. I'm anxious to get out there against one of the better teams in the country. You'll really know how we stack up after that one. You just have to be patient and keep getting better all the time."
Erickson and Co. have been working diligently since returning from Madison to prepare for what is probably the best team they will face all year. Oregon is a complete football team that has consistently found ways to attack the opposition in all three aspects of the game.
Oregon has been playing their ramped up, speed-based offense for years now and it started under former head coach Mike Bellotti. Current head coach Chip Kelly took over in 2009 and the team didn't skip a beat. Although the style of play is similar, Erickson stated that their personalities are polar opposites.
"They're quite different," Erickson observed. "Their personalities are quite different. They're both really great coaches. Chip is obviously a great innovator with what he's done. But they're both extremely good coaches. One thing they have in common is that Nick Allioti has been their defensive coordinator. Chip, offensively, is very up with what's going on."
When preparing for a team like Oregon, it can be tough to even know where to begin. They're explosive on offense and boast a defense full of playmakers. If there is any saving grace for the Sun Devils, five of the last six losses suffered by the Ducks have come on the road away from raucous Autzen Stadium.
"I think you have to change things up and that's obviously the key to being successful against (Oregon)," Erickson explained. "The thing that you don't want to do is be confused. You don't want to do a lot of things against them, because there are a lot of mental assignments that need to be dealt with. Like taking your gaps and all that stuff. There are different beliefs. Some people want to do a lot of things to confuse them and some people want to play steady so they know what's going on. We're going to do a little combination of both."
The one big lineup change for the Sun Devils this Saturday will see junior linebacker Oliver Aaron replacing Shelly Lyons in the starting lineup. Aaron came to Arizona State as part of Erickson's first recruiting class as Sun Devil head coach. He was inserted into the game against the Badgers last Saturday when Brandon Magee temporarily went down with an injury and capitalized on his opportunity recording a handful of tackles all over the field. He drew praise from Erickson after practice for the second straight day.
"Like all players when they're young they have their ups and downs emotionally about different things," Erickson commented. "We played him at safety then we played him at linebacker then we moved him back to safety and now he's at linebacker again. He's always been good on special teams and always stayed very positive. He can run like a deer and he's a good football player.
"He got his chance last week and played extremely well. He's earned it. He came in when I came in and it's good to see him responding."