"We can go in as a coaching staff in a few minutes and evaluate where we're at, both as far as our schemes are concerned and as far as our personnel is concerned. I'll know more about the scrimmage tomorrow morning when we practice. I thought there was enthusiasm. I thought we tackled very well and I thought the first offensive front played extremely well. They pass protected as well as we've pass protected. There are a lot of plusses."
James Morrison, a walk-on true freshmen from Phoenix St. Mary's HS, unofficially collected 87 yards on ten carries, including two runs of 38 and 30 yards. Generally, up until now in camp the third team offense was struggling in a big way, but that trend was at least for today reversed thanks to Morrison. All in all, the walk-on took full advantage of his increased reps due to Keegan Herring and Shaun DeWitty being sidelined.
"James Morrison is not a surprise to me," Erickson stated. "I'm shocked he wasn't recruited by somebody. I mean it's amazing to me, but thank god it didn't happen. He's a big back, he's 225 pounds and he's a little different (running back) than what we have."
Dimitri Nance looked extremely well running the ball against the first team defense, and tallied 78 yards on five carries. Two of his carries went for 25 and 35 yards. Even though Bass had a modest 34 yards on 11 carries, he continued to impress with his ability to get the tough yards inside and use his quickness to shed tackles.
It was a fairly quiet day in the air for the Sun Devil offense. Carpenter completed 6-11 passes for 42 yards, and had one of his passes intercepted by Troy Nolan. The touchdown to Robinson was a beautiful fade pass to the near corner of the end zone over Pierre Singfield. Sullivan's toss to Simpson was a long pass downfield that beat Grant Crunkleton. Sullivan was 6-12 for 128 yards. Both QB's, as well as Szakacsy fumbled snaps.
The wide receiver core was already missing Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha, and Mike Jones left the scrimmage early with what Erickson said was "a slight concussion". Aside from Simpson and Taylor no other wide receiver really stood out. Keelan Johnson had two catches for 16 yards and seems to be catching on (no pun intended) very fast after missing nearly the first week of practice. Today, Bass showed once again that he's a big threat catching the ball from the back field.
Not only did Erickson praise the work the front five did on pass and run blocking, but he was also proud of the fact that they had just one false start penalty today. "It's a really disciplined group," said Erickson. "It's a group that plays hard; they're very aggressive, tough guys. They want to be good, and so that's been a part of it. We got to continue to get better and better, we're a long ways a way, don't get me wrong. But it was something that was a pleasure to watch today."
One offensive lineman that continues to impress the ASU coaches is Matt Hustad. "He was hurt, he had mono and missed the first five days of practice," Erickson noted. "We kind of thought he had a chance to be a good player and we put him at tackle because we wanted to find out who the best player is to play right tackle. So he just came back and he's playing awfully good. I see him as a tackle, guard or center. He could play anywhere."
ASU's head coach was satisfied with the defense's performance today, particularly at one position. "I thought defensively there were some darn good things," said Erickson. "We're playing pretty well at corner, 4 or 5 of them, which was kind of a question mark going in, who was going to be the second or third. Hopefully when I look at that, I'll see who has emerged. I thought it was good, and one thing about it, it's warm and that's good. (Pierre Singfield) played very well; he's competing for that starting job. He's a great story. A walk-on here and now he is playing good and is competing against Terrell (Carr) for that starting job. Josh Jordan is playing pretty good, two freshmen. But Pierre is competing for that job."
The surprise leading tackler today was linebacker Anthony Reyes with 6.5 stops. "Reyes is on scholarship now since I put him on scholarship this summer. Not because of what he did today, because he deserves it," Erickson commented. "He's been in this program for a couple, three, years and as a walk-on he busted his rear end, sacrificed. So we had one available and he deserved it so we put him on for this year. But yeah he did play very well."
Second team linebackers Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee had three tackles each, and Magee registered a forced fumble. The two true freshmen continue to solidify their position on the depth chart on the second team, and the third LB there Mike Nixon one another defensive standout with two tackles, tackle for loss, fumble recovery, and a pass deflection.
The defensive line played very average today. As mentioned, the first team didn't do a good job limiting runs by Nance and didn't put much pressure on Carpenter either. Additionally, two of the three offside calls were made on the first unit. It was actually the second team defensive ends that stood out today. Another day, anther batted pass for James Brooks, who also had a sack, three tackles and a forced fumble. Jamarr Robinson had 2.5 tackles and continues to have a solid camp.
In the secondary Max Tabach had a solid day with three tackles, and is another player that is solidifying his second team status. Singfield, Nolan and Josh Jordan each had 2.5 tackles. Deveron Carr had two tackles and pass deflection, but left the scrimmage late with what appeared to be a forearm injury. Terell Carr had two tackles. Omar Bolden dropped an interception.
When asked about the severity of the injuries to McGaha and Herring, Erickson stated that he's going to be cautious with these two proven players, in terms of when he will insert them back into action. "(McGaha) was just sore. That (injury) is bothering him and I'm going to be very careful with him," said Erickson. "He could have went, if it were a game he could have played, but why would I take a chance with him right now? We don't win or lose today. We just want to get him healthy."
"Keegan is the same thing. If it was Saturday he probably could have played. There are two kinds of guys that sit out; guys that haven't proven themselves and are sitting out and hurt and probably need to be out. And there are guys that have spilt blood out here and proved themselves and are warriors and if they're hurt I'm going to hold them out. They don't need to be out there if it's an iffy situation with them physically. If they're healthy of course they have to be out there."
Erickson announced that defensive end Eric Tanner won't be playing again for the maroon and gold due to his ailing knee. "That surgery (Tanner) had on his knee nine months ago is just not healing like it needs to be and I don't know if it ever will 100% to play football," Erickson explained. "Him and I had a conversation and we decided that he just can't play anymore and we're going to keep him around here hopefully on an injury scholarship. He tried, he came out and tried it was just too difficult for him."
Many young players have played well thus far in camp, and Erickson commented on some of the newcomers who have been standing out. "Obviously Gerrell (Robinson) jumps out at you because he's competing for a starting position," said Erickson. "It's one thing I've always said about being hurt, don't be hurt too long because someone is going to beat your rear end out and it's going to be hard to get back into the lineup. Gerrell has taken a lot of snaps because we're short on wide receivers."
"Any of those front guys, (Lawrence) Guy or (Jamaar) Jarrett could possibly play a lot. Spencer Gasu is back and the few things I saw I thought he did some pretty good things. I think (Ryan) Bass is obviously going to create some problems; he has a lot of talent. Stanley Malamala is playing pretty well too. He's not the fastest guy, but he can block and catches everything thrown at him."
"We're a way long ways away but we are where we're at. I could see (freshman playing early), again that's something we'll evaluate in the next two weeks. We'll evaluate today and see where we're at; some of it well depends on how healthy we stay and all of that."
Darren Schwandt contributed to this article