ASU continues preparations for USC game

Tuesday's practice had a different feel to it than last week. The most notable difference was the USC fight song blaring at the practices field for what seemed like an eternity, which according to head coach Dennis Erickson was to simulate how often it plays at the Coliseum after every play.

The other noticeable difference was how much work the starters did against the scout team as opposed to last week when they faced each other for long stretches.

While some may point to manner in which the team practiced last week as a reason for the team's play on Saturday, don't get used to the starters banging on each other often.

"Last week everything was similar," Erickson stated. "Washington State's offense was like ours and their defense was like ours and that's not the case now so we've got to have the scout team. We go ones against ones a little bit, for about 15 minutes, but not like we did last week. When we play teams that are real similar we'll do that."

The team's session on Tuesday was a bit shorter than usual and that could be attributed to the injuries the Sun Devils have suffered. While running back James Morrison was practicing without restriction, linebacker Oliver Aaron sat out with back spasms as did defensive tackle Corey Adams with a stinger, though both are expected to play on Saturday.

*** Beating Washington State 42-0 at home showed the team isn't ready to quit on this season, something that couldn't be said after the loss to Cal. Yet this week's contest against a USC team should be a stiff challenge regardless of the sanctions brought on the Trojans by the NCAA.

USC has beaten the Sun Devils ten straight times, and victory number 11 will certainly hinder the team's bowl hopes moving forward.

"They're playing great," Erickson said of USC. "They've got a good football team. All those guys started last year and it's not like the probation aspect will affect them for a couple of years. They've still got all the guys that they've had. They lose two really close football games, and you watch them against Stanford and Stanford is awfully good and they had a chance to win that, so they're good."

With the same conference record as the Sun Devils, the Trojans have taken their share of lumps this season as well, and while the USC defense hasn't been up to par, the offense boasts some athletes that have the ability to score every time they touch the ball.

"There are a lot of good receivers in our league," Erickson mentioned. "Everybody has got some, but (Ronald) Johnson and the (Robert) Woods kid is probably as good a young freshmen as I've ever seen. He makes a lot of plays boy. He's a California sprint champion, he can run, and he creates a lot of problems for you.

"I think against Stanford he had three or four touchdowns. They've got a lot of skill. Like I said, USC is USC, I haven't seen any change."

*** To combat that speed, ASU has a few speedsters of their own in sophomore Jamal Miles, and freshmen Deantre Lewis and Kyle Middlebrooks, the latter of which has been seeing a lot more time for the Sun Devils and making the most of his opportunities with three rushes for 15 yards and nifty touchdown slipping by half the Cougar squad to go along with four catches for 49 yards last week.

"Kyle gives you a little bit of something we don't have," Erickson pointed out. "They have trouble finding him and he's got great speed and change of direction and with a few of those guys we can use them in different situations, which really makes a difference, and obviously he has the speed to break the big one for us."


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