Erickson Pleased with Team's Performance

In Arizona State's second game of the 2008 season the Sun Devils handled conference opponent Stanford, 41-17. The game marked the second consecutive time the Devils were able to dole out 41 points on the Cardinal, and naturally there were a lot of positives highlighted by ASU's Head Coach after the game.

"We had some blown opportunities, obviously, but I thought we played well on both sides of the football," said Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "I thought defensively we kind of took them out of their running game. Everything that they got they had to earn in the running game. There were never any long runs and there were only a couple long plays they had. We were able to keep everything in front of us which was our goal for the game."

After a rather rocky start, the Sun Devils' defense stepped up and thwarted the Cardinal attack. Stanford drove down the field with ease on their first drive. Quarterback Tavita Pritchard completed all five of his passes and running back Toby Gerhart finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. ASU on the other hand to settle for two field goals after driving into Stanford's five-yard line.

"Well, it couldn't have been much better (for Stanford)," Erickson noted. "That happens. We made adjustments after (the first drive) and they didn't do that again. But yeah, they went right down. You have to give them credit. They got it in the end zone and we didn't."

However, the resilient Sun Devils were not held down for long. Led by a masterful performance from senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State stormed back and took a 20-10 lead going in to halftime.

"(Carpenter) is so accurate," Erickson stated. "He's making throws and he understands what's going on in this offense a lot better. But when he throws it, they're very accurate throws. It's amazing how many times he gets hit and gets right back up and makes plays."

The Sun Devils got another boost on offense with the return of senior running back Keegan Herring. After sitting out the first game against Northern Arizona with a hamstring injury, the speedy back returned and his impact was felt immediately. Herring carried the ball 12 times for 59 yards including a dazzling 20-yard run and a touchdown. Junior running back Shaun DeWitty also saw action for the first time in the 2008 season.

"Keegan made a lot of great plays in the running game particularly when he first came in. He adds something to us as far as making the big play for us," noted Erickson. "When DeWitty was in there I thought he did some good things for us. I thought he pass protected well which is what he does well. We're going to be able to use all three (running backs)."

Erickson added that Herring did slightly re-injure his hamstring but didn't believe that this would cause him to miss the team's next game against UNLV this coming Saturday.

One of the most pleasant surprises of the game for the Sun Devils was how well the defense shut down the Stanford running game. After turning in a dominant performance on the ground against Oregon State in week one, Gerhart was held to just sixty-seven yards on sixteen carries. Sun Devils inside linebacker Gerald Munns was a big reason the Cardinal was never able to establish their ground attack.

"Gerald was all over the place. We needed him to do that because of that running game," remarked Erickson. "That was our goal going into the game was to try to be physical with them because they are a physical offensive team and we felt defensively we had to be physical. Gerald was the leader as far as that goes. He made a lot of plays in the running game."

However the Sun Devils' skipper was not pleased with everything he saw. Despite an overall impressive team performance Coach Erickson pointed out that the team's kickoff coverage was sub par. When asked about the subject, the head coach was able to elicit laughter from the media.

"I'll have a lot of comments on (kickoff coverage) tomorrow," said Erickson. "I've gotta see what happened. The last one (Weber) kicks the ball five yards deep into the end zone and they still bring it out. So obviously we have to make some adjustments there."


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