ASU oblivious to USC's trash talk

Thursday evening the Sun Devils wrapped up a week of practices leading up to the Pac-12 opener and a home meeting with USC. Both teams are expected to contend for the Pac-12 South title, and to add to the considerable hype surrounding this contest are comments coming from the Trojans about linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, USC quarterback Matt Barkley called Vontaze Burfict "A dirty player" and Trojan offensive tackle Matt Kalil has promised to "drill" the ASU linebacker on Saturday.

Time will tell if those words will affect Burfict's play Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, but as of tonight they did very little to elicit comments from Arizona State's head coach Dennis Erickson.

"I don't know what they've said," Erickson stated, "but I'm sure they're trying to get in his head because everyone we play does but we'll see how he plays.

So far this season, Burfict who is known to be an emotionally charged player, has been able to keep his cool despite the constant baiting he faces from opponents.

" I haven't seen him do anything wrong," Erickson said of Burfict. "He's got to be able to play like he plays too because the aggressiveness is what makes him a great football player."

Much like Erickson, quarterback Brock Osweiler is also paying little attention to the Trojans' comments, and admitted he's "not surprised."

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The last time the Sun Devils were able to defeat USC was in 1999 with a 26-15 victory at the Coliseum and after 11 years the maroon and gold are naturally looking to end the unflattering streak.

"That was a long time ago but we're just going to go out and we're going to play our game and hopefully get that record change," Osweiler said.

But what's the key to defeating the Trojans after all this time?

"Just play our game," commented Osweiler. "We don't need to necessarily be worried about what USC is going to do we just have to go out and play Arizona State football and if we do that we'll be in the game at the end."

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The Sun Devil defense will be key on Saturday, and the unit has already showed vast improvement after allowing 319 yards in their victory over Missouri followed by only 135 yards surrendered to Illinois.

The Trojans, equipped with talented wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquis Lee, who had a combined 145 receiving yards last week against Syracuse, will certainly be a challenge for the maroon and gold

"We played better," Erickson said. "Illinois is not the offensive football team that Missouri was or that we're facing this week but yes we did take a step forward. Our corners are getting better all the time which is great because sometimes when you loose guys early, other guys have to step up.

"They're playing better but knock on wood because now they have to face Woods and Lee and all the other receivers they've got so that will be the true test."

As for the USC defense, the maroon and gold will have their hands full with a talented group that hasn't allowed more than 17 points in each of their three games this season.

"They've got a lot of athletes on defense," Osweiler said. "Just a lot of raw talent. They've got good size and good speed. They play disciplined football so they're a very solid defense."

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According to Erickson, with starting running back Cameron Marshall still nursing a sore ankle and seeing limited practice time this week, the Sun Devil offense will utilize junior running back James Morrison, who is hobbled himself, more against the Trojans after he played just a few snaps last week in Champaign.

"Our plan is to use James Morrison more," Erickson said. "Especially in the short yardage and goal line, things like that. He's really physical and a big guy but his shoulder has been killing him so this is really the first week he's healthy."

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As far as other injuries are concerned, the maroon and gold are slowly but surely bouncing back.

"Eddie Elder is cleared so he's ready to go," Erickson commented. "Aderious (Simmons) will probably be able to back-up, he's a lot better but hopefully we don't have to use him.

"Junior (Onyeali) had his surgery and it looks like he can probably be back in about a month or about 4-6 weeks depending on all that. But when talking to the doctors they didn't know. They had to shave down the meniscus and all of that but it's a 4 to 6 week thing depending on the rehab."

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Coming off a disappointing 17-14 loss to Illinois last week, the maroon and gold are keeping their spirits high as they enter conference play and a win this week will undoubtedly give the team the boost they need to prevail in the Pac-12.

"It could definitely give you momentum going forward," Osweiler stated. "This is a Pac-12 South game, it's a very important game to this football team and I think anytime you can get a big win, it gives you some extra energy and momentum going forward."


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