Offense and Defense Both Shine in Scrimmage

The Sun Devil offense improved from last week's scrimmage. However, their turnaround lasted only one half in Saturday's session. The second half, much like last week's scrimmage, was all about the defense. Thus, coach Koetter is still seeking a persistent effort from the players in the maroon jerseys.

"They got off to a much better start than a week ago, and then after halftime the defense totally kicked the hec out of the offense," said Koetter. "As much experience as we have back on offense, I feel like they should be playing more consistently than they are right now. They played the first half like I expected they would, but they didn't sustain it. It's just individual breakdowns, mostly communication things – all things that are very correctable. But still there's no rule that you have to wait until August to get this straighten out."

Injuries and player turnover have plagued the running backs core, and drastically change the makeup of this unit. Nevertheless, the Sun Devil skipper is encouraged by the play of a couple of individuals. "Antone Saulsberry got the bulk of the carries at tailback (on Saturday), and I thought he started off strong," Koetter remarked. "He's just a guy that stands out by making plays. Price Wilks is making some progress in the spring. Price has improved a lot as a blocker, and has improved his knowledge of the offense. I still think that as a consistent runner he needs more time, more experience." Koetter added that Rudy Burgess, who is in all likelihood still the starter, has been lining up primarily at wide receiver in the spring. Jarrett Sayas and Aaron Lafitte round up the depth chart when it comes to the ball carriers. Koetter pointed to Saulsberry and wide receiver Michael Jones as having their best day on offense in Saturday's scrimmage.

When it comes to the play of the signal caller, the ASU coach isn't taking much satisfaction in the performance of Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter. "I have very high expectations form the quarterback position," he commented. "I have to remember that Sam has really played in only one game. He played so well in that game, that I want him to play like that all the time. I think he got a little frustrated at times today. He made some real nice plays, and did some things that aren't gonna help us."

"Rudy has being doing things well at practice, and he has struggled in our two scrimmages," Koetter continued. "That's just an experience thing. The good thing about spring is that he's getting a ton of reps. We know we have Chad Christensen waiting in the wings that can always come in and take some of those reps if we needed to. Chad has been playing a lot as an inside receiver, and has played very well in a utility player role. The great news is that Rudy is getting experience. The bad news is that he's not making progress as fast as I would like, but very few freshman quarterbacks do."

In regards to the other side of the ball, Koetter seemed to be more pleased with what he has seen. "The defense didn't use Jamar and Dale quite as much," he stated. "They have pretty much dominated in practice. Tyrice Thompson made a couple of nice plays today at defensive end – had a long fumble recovery for a touchdown. Jeremy Payton had an interception. Littrele Jones had a couple of nice plays at corner. Robert James continues to makes progress. Rodney Cox had a huge the biggest hit of a day…the defense as a unit – I'm really happy how they came back and competed in the second half. I'm sure (defensive coordinator) Bill Miller would say that we're not where we have to be on defense. For as much as we have thrown at them, I think they are doing a nice job of picking it up."

Saturday marked the school's Junior Day, which is the first major event of the 2006 recruiting class efforts. "We hosted 75 juniors and their families, and took them through a quickie version of a recruiting process," said Koetter. "We showed them our facilities, talked them through our academic program, they got to meet with the coaches, I got to meet with the parents…you're always trying to get the top prospects in Arizona on your campus, and to learn more about us and the program. Many of them stayed and watched practice."

Spring practice will conclude at the end next week, and Koetter laid out the timetable for the remaining sessions, as well as the concluding spring game. "Our practice schedule has been rearranged a little bit," Koetter explained. "Normally, we have three practices the last week. We'll have four – Monday will be a helmets only practice, totally a teaching practice, non-contact reviewing the scrimmage. Tuesday and Thursday we'll work on any final things that we want to work on in spring ball and get on film."

"Saturday will be some sort of a scrimmage," Koetter continued. "With our injury situation, we're not gonna be able to play a full game that's called a spring game. A spring scrimmage would be a better explanation. It will have to be controlled. We went 40 some plays with the 1's and 40 some plays with the 2's. It would be hard to go much more than that on Saturday."

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