Tuesday's Erickson Quotes

With a number a notable Sun Devils on both sides of the ball recovering from injuries this spring, it has served as an opportunity for some of the less heralded players on the team to earn their spot in the rotation. Two backups who stood out last saturday, sophomores Grandville Taylor and Brandon Johnson, continued to shine Tuesday in their limited reps behind the starting trio at linebacker.

"He (Taylor) played well on Saturday and so did Brandon Johnson," commented Erickson after practice. "We got two walk-on linebackers who are having a great spring for us. Three years ago they might have been playing a lot, I mean really."

"But we'll see what happens. They're going to have to back up for us and see how much better they can get. They may play a lot of football around here."

For most of the team's backups, there isn't a better chance to make a claim for more playing time than during spring workouts. According to the head coach, a lot of guys have made their impressions on the coaching staff so far this spring.

"I'd say AJ Pickens has picked it up outside and Middlebrooks has had a good spring," said Erickson. "And then in the secondary Matt Tucker has gotten a lot better. He's a guy who can play safety and then you can move him down eventually. Spann has stepped up. We knew he was pretty good but he's jumped out."

"I also like both the young quarterbacks. I think Bercovici has really gotten it together the last couple of weeks. He knows where to go with the football and when he knows where to go, he can get it there fast. Sometimes even a little too fast."

Last spring, one of the primary concerns for Sun Devils fans was the play of the offensive line. Having been the weakest link of the offense for consecutive seasons, the big guys up front showed a lot of growth last season and thus far this spring. Erickson credits the familiarity the players have with each other now and their work ethic for their development.

"They've played really good; haven't had an injury and they've all played together," remarked Erickson. "Dan Knapp of course has been out but Aderious has been getting better. Tyler Sulka is another guy too."

"And then our guards have played pretty well. There's three or four of them. We've had a good battle at guard. The good thing is they play well together and are getting better all the time."

"I think Koebensky has gotten a lot better at center. I think there's been great improvement there. And Finkenberg has gotten a lot better up in the front."

As for the defense, they've spent time this spring trying to replace Lawrence Guy, who entered the NFL draft after last season concluded. His departure has opened doors for some of the younger defensive players to work their way up the depth chart now.

"On the defensive front you got Brooks and Jarrett," said the coach. "I think Greg Smith is probably a guy who jumps out at you as far as having a very good spring. Joita Te'i has had a really good spring and developed pretty well at tackle. Those are the guys, other than the guys who've been playing a lot, who are playing well."

Despite being without one of the stars on his defensive unit's front four the past few seasons, Erickson remains confident in his team's potential. With a heavier emphasis on pressuring the opposition's quarterback, the head coach expects to see his team attack relentlessly this fall.

"I expect us to be dominant," said the coach. "I think we'll be a better pass rushing front, with Jarrett and Brooks. And we don't even have Junior out there yet. And then Greg Smith too, who I think is a real good pass rusher."

"Sutton brings an added penetration guy. And then with Moos and Corey we'll see what happens. Joita is a very good pass rusher too."

"I think it's a young part of us, but I think with the experience we have with Jamar and Brooks, it should be a real strength to our football team ."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories