Good Practice, Bad Case of the Flu

For large parts of the season, the injury bug has bitten the Sun Devils quite hard. However, a non-football impairment is what is plaguing the maroon and gold quite hard these days as they prepare for their bowl game.

"Today by far was our best practice from an execution standpoint," said Head Coach Dirk Koetter. "We had those timing practices, and now we're putting the game plan in. Today was the first time that we looked like a football team. The one negative is that we're just getting wiped out by a flu bug. We're probably missing 10-12 guys. Our wide receivers crew is totally wiped out. Its' a serious issue, and hopefully the days ahead will help us get caught up." Among those not practicing were Derek Hagan, Keegan Herring, and Nate Kimbrough.

"We have to get through the next two days," Koetter continued, "and we have to finish this preparation part. Then it's kind of resting from Friday afternoon. Christmas night will be a good tempo practice."

There is one significant football ailment and that his the foot of Dale Robinson. "He's doing what he can do to get healthy," Koetter commented. "He's just a little beat up right now. I'm a thousand percent sure that come game time he'll be ready to rock. He's a captain for this game, and it's last game as a Sun Devil."

Bowl practices are not only beneficial for the current players that will suit up, but also for the future of the squad that will partake in games next season. According to the Sun Devil skipper, among the young guys benefiting are linebacker Chad Lindsey, and defensive backs Grant Crunkleton, Travis Smith, and Uriah Marshall. On offense, wide receivers Brandon Smith and Chris McGaha, running back Shaun Dewitty (also noted for his special teams work), and Richard Tuitu'u at left tackle.

Koetter admitted that it seems "like 50 years ago" since the team has prepared for last year's Sun Bowl, and thus it's hard to compare those preparations to the Insight Bowl ones. Even though this bowl game has a strong home field sense to it, the team has participated in several events. "I really think the way this has worked out with the activities…and most of these activities were created by us like the paintball, the community service, they're going to Gameworks this afternoon, the dinner at Ruth Chris'…Tom Kleinlein (Director of Football Operations) did an awesome job. Players love to have free time. They grind on school and football, so they love to have free time and hang out."

The Scarlet Knights defense has naturally been studied close by Koetter and he shared his impressions of it, especially its front four. "I'm impressed with their defensive line," he stated. "They're real impressive on film. Their moves, the way the move their hands, the way they compete, hustle to the ball…I have no way of judging how good the guys they are going against are, but their whole defense plays their tail off. They hit the quarterback a lot."

In terms of Rutgers' opponents this year, Louisville schematically is the closest to Arizona State. However, since that game, where Louisville beat Rutgers 56-5, was according to Koetter "over before it started", along with the fact that Louisville played a lot of the ‘22' offense which features two backs, two tight ends, and one receiver, it would be hard for ASU to compare itself to.

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