Olson Optimistic About Offense

Sun Devil Offensive coordinator Rich Olson was lured from the University of Miami to Tempe, Ariz. when his longtime friend and colleague Dennis Erickson got hired as the new head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Now in his second year with the team, Olson has the offense ready to do some damage to opposing defenses.

"We've got a lot of good work in, but obviously the test and measurement is when you play a game. When you play everyday against yourselves the defense kind of knows what you're doing and we're ready to hit somebody else," said Olson. "I think we're going to be fine. It's just a matter of getting in consistency from the offensive line and at the receiver position."

Luckily for Olson, he has the most experienced senior quarterback in all of the country, Rudy Carpenter, and will rely heavily on a big season from the offensive captain. Olson complimented Rudy after practice Tuesday for improving his mechanics and game in general.

"(Carpenter) has improved a lot," commented Olson. "He's stronger. The weight (gain) is going to help him when he takes hits in the pocket. His throwing motion has improved. His accuracy is a lot better and he has better velocity."

The ASU offensive coordinator similarly applauded backup quarterback Danny Sullivan.

"That was an unfortunate situation for him to have to play as a freshman and not be able to redshirt," remarked Olson, "because he's got too much talent. He has been patient and his time will come. He has improved tremendously."

Olson also has a depth chart full of talented, impact running backs just itching to see more playing time. The veteran coach plans on using all of them to increase the offense's potency.

"It's kind of running back by committee," he noted. "We have a lot of depth at that position. Keegan (Herring) has been a little nicked up during camp but Dimitri (Nance) is a war-horse and is an every down guy. Jarrell Woods is going to be a guy to reckon with because he has tremendous speed and he has made a lot of improvement. Shaun DeWitty has been hurt so he hasn't done anything and Ryan Bass, a freshman, is just going to be a guy. (Bass) has to learn how to hold on to the ball.(Nance) and Jarrell Woods are the two best pass protectors."

Olson might need Nance and Woods to step their pass protection games up further to help what has been a much maligned offensive front. The offensive line's struggles have been well documented, both last season and through summer camp this year, but Olson defended the group and gave them his vote of confidence.

"We're good enough up front (to succeed)," Olson stated. "There is no substitute for experience and fortunately we have experience on the inside at both the guard positions and Thomas (Altieri) has played in games. Obviously the tackle position is a spot where those kids are just going to have to learn week to week. Once we start playing games they'll get better because they'll know the speed of the game. It's hard to simulate that in practice."

While not always successful, lesser used defenses and defensive packages like the "Flex Defense" Northern Arizona runs can confuse offenses and create problems due to a lack of familiarity. Perhaps that is part of the reason Coach Olson is planning on keeping things relatively vanilla on offense when the Sun Devils the Sun Devils host the Lumberjacks this Saturday.

"We're going to keep it simple just because we do have the young guys in there and not try to get it complicated so that they can come off the ball and get after them. That's what we want to do," said Olson.

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