Erickson Pleased with Efficiency in Victory

As the old football adage goes: ‘A win is a win is a win.' However, the manner is which the Sun Devils won their contest against San Jose State, was very encouraging to their Head Coach Dennis Erickson.

"I thought we came out and played pretty good," said Erickson. "We didn't make a lot of mistakes. For a first game you usually make a lot of mistakes. We had one turnover, but other than that it was as an efficient football game as I have coached for a first football game."

Erickson was content that the messages he conveyed to his squad for quite a while were followed during the game. "I thought we played hard. The biggest thing we've been talking about since I've been here is play with great intensity and play very physical," he commented. "That's exactly what we did. We were physical on defense, and we ran the football liked I hoped we would run the football against them. When you run the football like that it makes things easy, but obviously you won't run the football like that every week. I was happy with the way we played."

Erickson noted that he was dissatisfied with the late hit penalty called on safety Troy Nolan who tackled a Spartan player out of bounds.

Sun Devil stadium's nickname is ‘House of Heat' and Erickson noted that the 100 plus degrees in which some of the game was played at, definitely took a toll on the Spartans. "That heat…it's hard to come in here and play," he explained. "Our guys can handle it; they've been in it…that's why I appreciate how many people we had – because that's hot. I can't imagine…a lot of them were out in the fourth quarter, but I don't know where they went…but I have a pretty good idea (smile). That's (the heat) is good for us, because I believe we're in pretty good condition. When you able to run it and be physical that helps."

Dimitri Nance, Rudy Burgess and Brandon Smith could have played in this blowout victory, but because they're still not 100%, the decision was made to hold them out. On the other hand, many second string players as the aforementioned trio did get to see extensive minutes on Saturday night.

"We hadn't played any of our guys (starters) from the middle of the third quarter on. That's how it should be," said Erickson. "They (the backups) deserve it as much as anybody and we were fortunate enough to be in that position you have to give them a chance to play. Then they get better, they become stronger as the season goes on because those guys are gonna end up playing, because you have injuries and things happen. It was good to see Danny (Sullivan) have an opportunity to come out and run the offense, without just handing it off. He threw it pretty darn well and we had drops."

ASU's formidable linebacker play has been a staple of their defense, and consequently they preformed very well in the season opener. "They're a strength for us. Our linebacker core probably goes two-deep," said Erickson. "They got that intensity level with Morris (Wooten), (Travis) Goethel, Robert James, Mike Nixon, and (Gerald) Munns. They're the leaders of our defense."

The upsets and unexpected scores across college football didn't surprise Erickson, who was preaching several days before the San Jose State game how well-prepared the team needs to be in order to win. "College football is college football. You look at Appalachian State and their win at Michigan) and that's probably gonna be the story for the rest of my life…it happened and they were close games all over. That's just how it is in college football. If you're not ready to play, you're probably gonna lose."

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter was very happy with the effort the team had on both sides of the ball in the 45-3 win. "I think offensively we scored on every possession except for the one where we had the fumble," he recalled. "I thought our defense played really well. They ran to the ball. They made a lot of tackles. They didn't even give them a chance to score. Obviously there is a lot we need to improve on offense. We made some mistakes. I know I did personally. I think those are all good things though because once we get them corrected we'll be a better team." The junior quipped that he doesn't remember handing off the ball as often as he did against San Jose. Then again, as long as it led to the desired outcome, he had no issues with it. "All I care about is that W," he claimed. "When you have a player like Ryan Torain, you need to give him that ball as many times as possible. He is getting five, six yards a carry. He is making the passing game easier too. It takes pressure off myself and the wideouts."

Carpenter called Torain "demoralizing for a defense", and pointed out that the running back's play affects the game on many levels. "I think when you have a back that is carrying a lot of times," he said, "not only is he breaking for long runs, and he is punishing the defense. He is hitting them. I think what is also demoralizing is when we play action pass and throw balls down the field. That is hard for them. They don't know what to do."

Carpenter was content with the fast start the offense got to and the rhythm they established early on. "I don't know what the numbers were in the passing game but I'm sure we're ok," he said. "I think once we establish the passing game a little bit more we'll be a good team…I thought our wide outs did a good job of getting open, running good routes."

"We didn't make a lot of mental mistakes and we got guys the ball. Kerry Taylor, first game had a touch down. I think that will give him some confidence along with Mike Jones, Kyle Williams, and Chris McGaha. We don't have Rudy Burgess too. Once we get him I think that will help out too."

In terms of his first time game experience with Coach Erickson, Carpenter commented: "Coach Erickson is definitely not calm. He is more upbeat and energetic. I don't know if you saw but he coached all the way through the entire game, which is important for us. He is more fiery. I think the players respond to that."

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