Defense Dominates in Camp T Scrimmage

Just like last Tuesday's scrimmage ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson was full of praise when it came to the ASU defense. Yet, unlike four days ago, the offense didn't evoke many compliments following the team's scrimmage at Camp Tontozona Saturday afternoon in front of 3,200 in attendance.

"I thought defensively we're playing like we need to play," said Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "We were all over the football field. We're tackling very well, getting pressure on the quarterback…after evaluating the first two weeks that's basically what it is. We are we need to be at defensively, although we need to improve. If we want to be a dominant defense we need to be better than what we are, we need to tackle better – we missed some tackles today."

"On the other side of the football, we're not executing very well. We not throwing well or catching. We have some guys out obviously with some injuries, so we just have to continue to improve. We'll get better as time goes on. It's a young group that will get better and better all the time."

Rudy Carpenter completed his first six passes, but overall the passing offense clearly suffered from the absence of Mike Jones, Brandon Smith, Chris McGaha and Nate Kimbrough. Carpenter was 10-16 for 113 yards. Danny Sullivan didn't have a bad day either completing 8-19 for 72 yards. He was intercepted by Dexter Davis. Chasen Stangel (2-11 5 yards) and Samson Szakacsy (2-4 37) were struggling today. Jack Elway has been showing improvement all week and was 3-7 for 40 yards and threw the lone passing TD in the scrimmage to Keelan Johnson for 27 yards, where the true freshman beat safety Mike Callaghan at the near corner of the end zone.

Kyle Williams led all receivers with six catches for 66 yards, and T.J. Simpson registered 49 yards on four catches. Aside from those two, the other receivers were very quiet, especially Kerry Taylor with only two catches for 21 yards. Tight ends Dan Knapp (2-14) and Wes Evans (2-17) faired well, but overall not a great day for ASU's passing offense.

The ground game, just like the last scrimmage, was led by emerging walk-on James Morrison who tallied 67 yards on 10 carries, and continues to display more sheer power than any other ASU ball carrier, yet still showing deceiving elusiveness for a 220 lbs. running back. Erickson indicated that because the number of scholarship running backs on the team, Morrison will be redshirted this year. "He's obviously a shining light," Erickson commented. "He's playing very well. He's strong, he's big, he's tough. As I said last week we fortunate to have that guy."

Ryan Bass had six carries for 38 yards. The RB's that went against the first and second team offense (Nance, Herring, and Woods) found very little room to run. Despite having -5 yards rushing Keegan did score the only other TD of the scrimmage from four yards out.

The offensive line, which was applauded for its discipline on Tuesday, committed (unofficially) five false starts (two by Jon Hargis and two by Dan Knapp) and three holding penalties.

"I think that what happens with the offensive line there's a lot of mix and match," said Erickson. "But there's no question about it we have to get better on the offensive front. We're not near where we need to be. We have to be able to run the football a lot better, we need to protect better. To me it's all about being able to run the football better than we have."

"We're not executing very well in any place right now on offense. We have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks."

Generally, the starting front five did effectively protected Carpenter, but the drop-off from that group to the second and third team unit is still very noticeable. One player that benefited greatly from that scenario is Lawrence Guy who had one sack and four QB hurries. He played on the second team, and with James Brooks leaving the game with an injury he got even more reps. I believe that he's quickly asserting himself in the last few days, and is on the right track not to redshirt.

Solid job by the linebackers both in run and pass defense. Brandon Magee had 3.5 stops and a sack. Wooten had perhaps his best performance of fall camp and collected three tackles, one of them for a loss, and a pass breakup. Reyes tallied three tackles and a pass breakup. Goethel and Nixon had pass breakups as well.

Very good day for the secondary as well, with Pierre Singfield pacing all defenders with 4.5 tackles, to go along with a fumble recovery (RB Giovannie Dixon was the guilty party). Omar Bolden had three tackles. Rodney Cox tallied 2.5 tackles and a pass breakup. Pass breakups were also registered to Terell Carr and Troy Nolan. Grant Crunkleton had two tackles, and both ironically were on 45-yard runs each by Morrison and Bass that would have easily been scores if the cornerback didn't catch them from behind. Safe to say that many were pleasantly surprised with the speed the junior display today.

Thomas Weber was 3-5 on field goal attempts, connecting from 32, 42 and 47 yards, while missing from 52 and 37. Zach Richards was 1-2 making his 37 yarder and missing on his 47-yard one. Weber had punts of 46, 60, and 31 yards.

"Thomas obviously kicked extremely well," Erickson commented. "I'm really excited about how he's punting the ball. You look at us punting last year, compared with this year – he's punting the ball extremely well. I thought there was a lot of intensity but we have a long ways to go. We're not near where we need to be."

Kyle Williams and Taylor did very well in punt returns, and in a game situation their returns would eat up a lot of real estate, if not taken all the way to the house. On the other hand, Bass fumbled twice on his returns.

Aside from the four aforementioned WR's, Matt Hustad and Shaun DeWitty were held out due to injuries. James Brooks and Saia Falahola didn't finish the scrimmage and there's no word yet on their status for this upcoming week of practices.

All in all, the overnight trip to Camp Tontozona for the scrimmage was a very positive experience for the Sun Devils. "It was nice," said Erickson. "We got together last night; we ate, had a good meal and then everybody watched a movie ("Hancock") together. Then to come down here and practice, and have a great crowd like this, it was really worth the trip."

The maroon and gold will take off Sunday, before resuming on Monday with a morning and afternoon session.

Unofficial Scrimmage Stats

Passing

Carpenter 10-16 113 yards

Sullivan 8-19 72 INT

Elway 3-7 40 TD

Szakacsy 2-4 37

Stangel 2-11 5

Rushing

Morrison 10-67 yards

Bass 6-38

J.Woods 4-11

Nance 5-8

Szakacsy 2-5

Dixon 1-0

Herring 4 – (-5) TD

Receiving

K.Williams 6-66

Simpson 4-49

K.Johnson 2-31

Taylor 2-21

Evans 2-17

Knapp 2-14

Nance 2-12

J.Williams 1-22

Pettes 1-15

Pickens 1-15

Driscoll 1-8

Morrison 1- (-3)

Defensive Stats

Singfield: 4.5 tackles, fumble recovery

Magee: 3.5 tackles, sack

Bolden: 3 tackles

Wooten: 3 tackles, tackle for loss, pass defended

Reyes: 3 tackles, pass defended

Cox: 2.5 tackles, pass defended

Unga: 2.5 tackles

Vasquez: 2.5 tackles

Crunkleton: 2 tackles

Tabach: 2 tackles

Jordan: 2.5 tackles

McFoy: 1.5 tackles

Goethel: 1.5 tackles, tackle for loss, pass defended

Harkey: 1.5 tackles

Nixon: 1.5 tackles, pass defended

Moos: 1.5 tackles, tackle for loss

Guy: 1 tackle, 4 quarterback pressures, 1 sack

Brooks: 1 tackle, tackle for loss

Robinson: 1 tackle, sack

Lyons: 1 tackle, sack

Munns: 1 tackle, pass defended

Bereuter: 1 tackle

D. Carr: 1 tackle

Fobbs-Valentino: 1 tackle

Parker: 1 tackle

Aaron: 1 tackle

Bertrand: .5 tackle, tackle for loss

Tuitea: .5 tackle, pass defended

T. Carr: .5 tackle, pass defended

Nolan: .5 tackle, pass defended

Holman: .5 tackle

Floyd: .5 tackle

Lindsey: .5 tackle

Jarrett: .5 tackle

D. Smith: .5 tackle

O. Jones: .5 tackle

Davis: quarterback pressure, interception

Darren Schwandt contributed to this story


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