Injuries have plagued the Sun Devils since the spring ball but it appears that progress is being made as some key players are preparing to make their return. Sophomore defensive end Junior Onyeali suffered an injury against Illinois and has been out since but was fully participating in practice on Tuesday.
"Yeah, without a doubt he'll play," Erickson said of Onyeali. "He's okay right now and we're just trying to work him in right now. He'll be ready to play. How much he'll play, we don't know but watching him today he looks pretty close to full speed so it should be good to have him back."
Perhaps the most notable observation from Tuesday's practice session was corner Omar Bolden's participating in practice. Although participation was limited, the senior was seen in shoulder pads and shorts, proving that progress is being made for his return.
"He did some individual stuff and did some skeleton stuff just to see how his knee feels when he gets done," Erickson said. "To me, it's about where it's healed and it's a mental thing too, the confidence."
As for Cameron Marshall, the running back will be held out of practice throughout the week as he continues to rehabilitate his ankle injury.
"He may do some on Thursday but there's no sense," Erickson commented. "He played pretty well, probably at 75 or 80% so I think if we give him this week off, we have a good chance he can come back 100% which is key for our running game."
Despite suffering their second loss of the season to the Oregon Ducks, the Sun Devils are still 5-2 with five regular season games remaining and currently hold the top spot in the Pac-12 South. It's certainly a position that brings a measure of satisfaction to the team.
"There's a lot of different ways you can look," quarterback Brock Osweiler stated. "At it but the way I see it, is that we're in first place in the Pac-12 South and our goal at the beginning of the season was the win the Pac-12 South so if you want to go by that, we're right where we want to be. We're sitting right where I hoped we would be at this point in the season and we just have to build upon that."
Last Saturday's matchup at Autzen Stadium was particularly special for two Sun Devils whose connection to the Ducks runs deep. Wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad transferred to ASU from Oregon and defensive lineman Bo Moos' father previously held the athletic director position for the Ducks.
It was rumored that the two gave a pre-game speech to the team and Osweiler confirmed that his teammates delivered an emotionally charged messaged to the entire squad, one that he will never forget.
"Aaron and Bo Moos talked to the team Friday night when we got to the hotel and Aarons message was very inspiring to say the least," Osweiler stated. "It's hard to go into detail but as far as all of the football speeches I've heard of that was the best one.
"He's (Pflugrad) not but for him going back to play in Autzen stadium against Oregon, it was a very emotional experience for him and he kind of let that out in his speech. Like I said, of everything I've seen on TV, read about and been a part of, it was by far the best football speech."
Although football will remain the focus for the maroon and gold, the bye week will also be a chance for the entire unit to step away for a moment and regroup, both mentally and physically.
"You need breaks throughout the football season," Osweiler admitted. "In your training regimen just to stay fresh and mentally fresh, to be sharp and energetic with things. This week is a big mental week for us. As far as the starters, we're going in and watching film, breaking down things.
"As far as practice goes, a lot of those reps are going to the backups, which allows our bodies to heal up a little bit. We've been going at it since August 1st and this is the first significant break that we've had so we're using it to refresh the mind and get the body healthy."