Defensive linemen Loren Howard headed a list of highly touted recruits, which attended ASU's game last night. The high attention given to him after the game by ASU coaches was undeniable. Coaches were all smiles around Howard, and made him feel more than welcomed at Sun Devil Stadium. The Sun Devils hope that current player Phil Howard, Loren's brother, will be the "X-factor" that will not only land this heralded player, but also fill-in a burning need at defensive line. Other recruits included receiver Kelly Mitchell from Peoria high school who's enjoying a fine season, and the dynamic duo from Mclintock high school – running back Randy Hill and defensive back Andre Bailey. Word is that this tandem will most likely be a package deal, which ASU will be more than happy to land.
When running back Derick Arnold came into the ASU program last year, ASU coaches were overjoyed to land a player who was regarded the best running back in Texas. Many eyebrows were raised last year, when Arnold's redshirt year was burned while playing on a very limited basis. The last two games, the sophomore wasn't even listed as fourth stringer, as evident with the playing of Jermaine McKinney the last two weeks. My sources are absolutely mum on why Arnold isn't in the fold, but it seems that he will remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. While ASU's running back depth is more than adequate this year, and looks promising with players like Hakim Hill and Cornell Canidate, Arnold's story is quite heartbreaking.
Here are further quotes from ASU coaches and players:
Special teams coach Tom Osborne was extremely dejected after the game. "We had too many ups and down today. We look good on some plays, and look like dogs on other plays. We have A LONG way to go…I think we did regress from last week. We're just no there yet…As coaches you don't get to enjoy too many wins, so I'll enjoy this one tonight. Tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 7:30 AM we start preparing for USC. They have phenomenal athletes; I have played against them for many years now. They are always gifted athletically. They are a wounded animal, and a very dangerous team, losing all those close games. On top of everything, we have to play them on the road. It's a scary deal. We watched them today play Washington, and the players' eyes popped out of their head watching USC play. I just told them: Welcome to the Pac-10! A lot of these players don't know what this league is all about yet. They may have gotten a taste against Stanford, but there's much more to come…we're still experiencing growing pains. It's frustrating to me, because I'm not used for my special teams not being number one in the Pac-10. We have to turn this thing around."
Tom Pace may have been the forgotten man in ASU's backfield this season. He lost his starting job to Mike Williams, and Delvon Flowers' return this season was talked about quite at the length in all the media publications. While the senior doesn't carry a chip on his shoulder, he's happy to be in the spotlight again. "We all did a great job. We made a few mistakes, which we have to get corrected for the USC game…We feel like we have to establish the running game each week. If you don't have a balanced attack, you won't be successful in the Pac-10. It's something we're definitely trying to do….Our pass does set up the run for us. It's different, but it works for us. When we have successful play action plays, it does loosen up the defense quite a bit and opens up the running lanes. Whenever you can keep the defense hesitating, you'll do well on offense…I don't know if my play merits me a starting position. Williams and Flowers are great running backs. I did play well last year, and I was happy to have a good game today. It's been a while for me. Now I just have to continue and be consistent…The offensive line played well. They opened a lot of holes for us. I don't think they made a lot of mistakes today. Once I get in the open field, I'm just the small guy running for his life and away from the opposite color jerseys…I take pride in doing well in kick-offs. Coach Osborne has a great scheme. We have our special teams open a lot of holes for us to return kicks. It does help out a lot having first-teamers in there. We just have to make sure that we stay fresh throughout the game…We can't make as many mistakes against USC. It will be a tough and close game."
Linebacker Mason Unck wasn't satisfied with the defensive play tonight. "We were making our reads way too slow. I don't know what was going on. We were just more focused in the second half, and that's why we played better…We were expecting them to pass a lot from the get-go, but they ran and ran well against us. Once we settled down, we did a good job stopping the run…We played just OK. You have to be happy about the win, but we have to correct the mental mistakes and the missed tackles we had today. We have to shore it up for Pac-10 play…After having a short season last year because of injuries, I'm very pleased at where I'm at. But, the bottom line is that I have a lot of room for improvement. I need to be a leader since I'm one the older guys out there and I need to help my team win. If I concentrate on that, I'll be fie and the team will play well…We know that USC is an angry team right now with all their losses. They're always regarded as one of the most athletic teams in the Pac-10. We're playing in their house, and we have to bring it to them. There's no other way."
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