Devils looking for redemption

Coming off the devastating loss to the University of Arizona, the maroon and gold will look to ease the pain with a win over the Golden Bears. There is the inevitable hangover after a disappointing defeat but time is proving to be the best healer.

"Yesterday was a little slow but today was a lot better," head coach Dennis Erickson said of Tuesday's practice. "They're starting to realize that the sting goes away a little bit and that on Friday night they can get rid of some of that sting.

"This is a team that has a lot of lives but we have to come out like we're capable of playing. We have to come out and play like we can and play for our seniors."

For three consecutive weeks fans have witnessed an underperforming Sun Devil squad, one that has almost been unrecognizable compared to the beginning of the 2011 campaign.

The maroon and gold still have a chance to reach their goal of playing for the Pac-12 title but in order to do so, there will need to be a sharp turnaround in their performance.

"We have to play disciplined, understand what our assignments are and who you're covering but we talk about that all the time," Erickson commented. "We talk about those things all the time but we have to execute those things to get back on the correct track and we haven't done that.

"And we're playing in my opinion one of the better football teams in our league as far as personnel is concerned. They've got some outstanding football players so it will be a challenge and it will be a challenge to start playing like we're capable of playing."

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Friday will also mark the last time Sun Devil 24 seniors will take the field in maroon and gold, which has left many wondering if the long awaited return of corner Omar Bolden has finally arrived.

"No, Omar won't play," admitted Erickson. "He pretty much made his mind up a long time ago. He is looking towards his future and I don't blame him. He will be introduced but that's as close as he'll get."

Another senior lost to a torn ACL was wide receiver T.J. Simpson. The senior is attempting to acquire a medical redshirt to gain a sixth year of eligibility.

"Trying right now, we're going through the process," Erickson said. "He deserves (a medical redshirt) so I hope it happens."

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Junior wide receiver Rashad Ross, new to the maroon and gold roster this season, has been a standout for the Sun Devil offense, moving his way up the depth chart throughout the season, progressively getting more and more looks on the field.

Erickson has been pleased with the progress of Ross and was especially pleased with his performance against the Wild Cats with four receptions for 77 yards.

"He contributed last week," Erickson began. "The guy is faster than anybody we've got on the team and his hands are starting to get a little more consistent. It was taking him a little while because we started him on defense because of lack of depth at corner. He's getting better all the time and he's got a huge future, he has lots of talent.

"And he will play a lot of Friday. He alternates with (Aaron) Pflugrad and we put him in for certain situations."

Ross also has the attention of quarterback Brock Osweiler, who above all else appreciates the dedication of his teammate to continually get better.

"Ross is one of those guys that I'm very proud of," Osweiler said of his teammate. "He came in and was a little bit behind the curve as far as learning our playbook because he came in a little bit late but he is a guy that came in a kept his head down and kept working.

"He wasn't getting a ton of playing time early on but he didn't get discouraged, he just kept coming to practice, kept working, kept working hard and he has worked himself into a position where he is making plays on Saturdays."

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Osweiler, pleased with how the Sun Devil squad is responding to the loss and their efforts in preparing for the Golden Bears. The energy during practice is what the QB would call "loose" but for the maroon and gold it may be what they need.

"When your back is against the wall, you do play lose," Osweiler commented. "This is a situation that we've been in for a few weeks but I think the mood and attitude of the team is pretty good considering where we're at with things."

After the loss to the Wild Cats on Saturday, Osweiler expressed his disappointment with the offenses performance in the red zone. Missing key opportunities to score when given the chance ultimately lead to their third consecutive loss but the junior quarterback vowed to hit the playbooks to correct the mistakes. But what has he found so far?

We're just not making the plays," Osweiler admitted. We're not catching the ball here, or I'm making the wrong read here, just normal things of football. And that goes back to not questioning things, just do what you've been coached to do and just believe in what you see and make plays.

"We've definitely put an emphasis on the red zone this week. Monday we had a couple extra red zone periods that we normal don't have, today we executed very well in the red zone so with that stuff and the plays we have in for Cal this week, I'm expecting a change."


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