Speed will be served this weekend in Eugene

No one would ever confuse the 2011 Sun Devils for being sluggish, yet the Arizona State squad knows that they this weekend in Eugene they will meet an Oregon team which at the very least can match them in velocity on both sides of the ball. Saturday's night's football game might as well be labeled as a track meet.

"We have to learn how to go at warp speed," admitted Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. "They are what they are. They do it week-in and week-out, year-in and year-out since (Oregon head coach) Chip (Kelly) has been there. I don't know if I've ever seen a team as fast offensively.

"It's unbelievable watching. You can think you're doing okay, and then all of a sudden they put 28 points up so fast it'll make your head spin."

Sun Devil quarterback Brock Osweiler was equally impressed with the Ducks' defense.

"Their defense is good," Osweiler said. "Flat out, they are good. They have great athletes. We have great speed but so do they, and they like to blitz a lot. They showed us that last year when we played them, but more importantly, especially at home they play very hard and very disciplined football and I expect a great game out of their defense."

Erickson added that longtime Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti usually doesn't vary much with his schemes but he did add a little wrinkle this season.

"They're playing a lot more three-man front this year than they have," Erickson remarked. "A lot of people are going to that to create some confusion, particularly against spread teams to try to screw the blocking schemes up.

"One thing they can do is they can gamble because they score pretty fast. They're very sound. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They force the offense to do some things right."


Baptism by fire probably doesn't do justice to describe Osweiler's first ever ASU start, which took place at this weekend's venue: Autzen Stadium. On November 14, 2009 the signal caller became the first true freshman quarterback since Sun Devil great, Jake Plummer in 1993, to start a game for the maroon and gold. Osweiler went 5-10 for 15 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter due to injury

"It was kind of cold that night," Osweiler recalled, "their stadium was everything that it gets hyped up to be; it's loud, it's noisy, their fans are on top of you. A lot has happened since then. I was a young kid making my first start. Now, I've played in a few games since then and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity.

"My first trip up to Autzen [Stadium] didn't go how anybody would hope for it to but, like I said, we're a different football team now; I'm a different football player and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity."

Erickson praised his quarterback's overall development since that milestone.

"He's matured. He's become a huge leader on this football team as we all know," said the Sun Devil skipper. "He's playing much more mature than he did two years ago when he started that game (in Oregon). You have to think: he was an 18-year-old kid out of Kalispell, Montana going into Autzen Stadium for his first start. That's pretty hard.

"Now, he's been here for a while and going into the same stadium, which is just as hard; but he's played games and made throws and understands what we're doing offensively. It's totally different for him."


Not that a meeting between a 9th ranked team (Oregon) and an 18th ranked team (Arizona State) needed anymore hype, but Saturday night's contest will be televised nationally on ESPN, who will also have their College GameDay broadcast live from Eugene.

Despite all pageantry this weekend, the ASU quarterback believes that an even keel approach is necessary when getting ready for Oregon.

"As a football player, you prepare for every football game the same way," Osweiler explained. "It doesn't matter who you're playing week-in and week-out, whether you're playing the worst team in the country or the best team in the country, you're still going to prepare the same way.

"Obviously, there are a lot of things added to this game as far as Gameday, ESPN, going on the road at Oregon and playing a tremendous football team, but we're going to prepare the same way and go into this football game playing the way we do every week. This game is pretty simple, whoever scores the most points wins and that's the way we're going up there. It's just another football game to us. We're going to be prepared."

Erickson knows that on such a big stage his team's self-assurance can serve ASU well on Saturday as they play in perhaps the most hostile environment they will encounter all season.

"You don't win games without being confident," Erickson said. "There's a fine line between being confident and overconfident. We're a confident football team. They believe in each other. I don't know if you even call it confidence, they have a strong belief in each other and a strong belief that their teammate is going to do the job he's supposed to do and give the effort he's supposed to.

"In the first six football games we've done that extremely well. We've overcome some injuries, which I'm proud of because young guys have stepped up when they needed to. To me, it's a whole team thing. The feeling of a football team is finally there. That's the most important thing."

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