Head Coach Dirk Koetter called Wednesday's session a "normal Thursday in-season (practice). We can do that (finish early) because of the extra day of practice. Energy has been good, and the guys are hungry to get back out there. They understand that from here on out…we're playing a bowl team this week, go on the road for two…there are no more NAU's on our schedule, so we have to be ready to go."
Additions, But No Movements in Depth Chart
The Sun Devils skipper stated that the running backs will be in the same depth chart position as they were against NAU, and that all four of them are expected to play on Saturday. None of the backups on the rest of the team have been elevated to a starting position, but frequent shuttling in and out at some roles is expected. "Chris (Blaoney) will still be in a rotation with Keno (Walter-White) at one corner… Shaun Lauvao and Paul Fanaika at the guards….Robert James – we'll try to get him a little more involved. Rodney Cox will come back. (Jeremy) Payton and (Ryan) McFoy will still rotate at nickel and safety. (Dane) Guthrie – looks like he will get some time at tight end this week. He's healthy enough and I'll think he'll get a little time."
Koetter added that due to Jamaal Lewis still being suspended and Mike Jones battling injuries, Rudy Burgess will be regulated to his primary wide receiver spot and not rotate to the cornerback spot. In fact, he didn't practice all week at corner. "Rudy is our most consistent wide receiver right now," explained Koetter, "so it's tough to be messing around with that. He had to play more snaps than we anticipated against NAU. I really wanted to get him at corner last week, but it just didn't work out. Plus, we're healthy at corner and all those guys did a good job." Cornerback Littrele Jones has recovered from his hamstring injury and is practicing with no limitations.
New Season – New Defense?
When asked about the differences he sees in Nevada's defense between last season and their 2006 season opener against Fresno State, Koetter replied: "They moved their linebackers all around. Josh Mauqa, a guy we tried to recruit a little bit, they moved him inside. They have a lot of guys back on their defense, so they look even better."
Getting on the Right Foot with Kickoff Coverage
Koetter admitted that his team's kickoff coverage wasn't up to par against NAU, and consequently was an area that was worked on in tonight's practice. "It's definitely correctable," He said. "We were a good kickoff coverage team last year…they (NAU) man-blocked us on one side, and wedge blocked us back to the filed. We worked on that. They got a few key blocks at the point of attack – they did a good job on that. Another thing we're seeing more and more - teams are willing to take the ball out of the end zone (on the returns)."
The ASU head coach announced that the captains for the Nevada game will be Andrew Carnahan, Jordan Hill, Michael Marquardt and Jason Burke.
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