Led once again by quality performances from quarterbacks Rudy Carpenter and Danny Sullivan the offense was able to hold its own against a defense that was going full throttle, swarming to the ball after every reception. The coaches were vocal and let all the defenders know on several occasions to attempt to rip the ball from the offender's hands.
"(Stripping the ball) has always been an emphasis, but we decided to put more emphasis on it and we're doing it until the whistle blows. It becomes habit. It's like anything, unless you do it everyday it doesn't become habit," Remarked Erickson. "We have to practice like that everyday, and it's good for the offense too."
Defensively, the line made its presence felt today. After handling the offensive line in one-on-one drills a couple impressive plays where made by defensive lineman, most notably an athletic play by redshirt freshman James Brooks, jumping up in the air to tip away a Carpenter pass.
"It starts up there (defensive line). I mean you dominate on the defensive line, pass rush and playing the run, but more than anything establishing the point because it frees up the linebackers and other guys to make tackles, and that's what its all about," Commented Erickson. "If you're good enough up front to get pressure with four guys, obviously it makes it a lot easier to play pass defense. You can play a little more zone and you don't have to blitz as much. Ideally that's what we would like to be able to do. Are we there? No, no were not. We have a ways to go, but we have a chance to be a very good defensive front."
Although the play up front defensively is encouraging, it brings up the question of whether or not the offensive line will be good enough to get the Sun Devils to the top. Despite a starting line that includes two tackles, Jon Hargis and Adam Tello, who have yet to play a down on the offensive line, Coach Erickson has confidence in the unit.
"Without pads they're (Hargis and Tello) doing well. They're both good athletes and they both want to be good. With technique they're getting better all the time so we'll wait and see. I anticipate they'll get better all the time. One thing about them is they'll improve as the year goes on because they're inexperienced. The advantage that they have is that the technique that they're learning is the technique that we're teaching. Sometimes when you come into a new program like we did a year things have been taught and it's hard for (the offensive linemen) to change." Said Erickson.
The head coach also defended the group as a whole as he brought up some of his old days.
"I know when I was at Miami; our offensive front looked like heck a lot of times against our own people. I remember one spring we didn't score a touchdown for about three weeks. Everybody was saying, ‘Oh, the offensive line is awful,' then they went up against someone else and it was easy. You get better by competing against other people." Recalled Erickson.
Earlier in the offseason, there was talk about potentially redshirting junior quarterback Danny Sullivan so he would have two years to start once Carpenter exhausted his eligibility. However, the head coach laid those rumors to rest.
"Well you would like to (be able to redshirt Sullivan), but it would be pretty hard to do. Something could happen (to Carpenter) and (Sullivan) is head and shoulders ahead of the other quarterbacks," Said Erickson. "The thought (of redshirting Sullivan) entered my mind several times but I just don't see how we could do that."