Inclement Weather Cuts Practice Short

The cool temperatures and refreshing breezes were obviously too good to be true as thunder and lightning rolled in cutting Wednesday's practice session just a few plays short of completion.

When asked how much practice the team missed because of today's weather Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson answered, "About four plays," after briefly glancing over his itinerary. Surprisingly enough, the weather didn't affect the coach one bit.

"I love (this weather). You gotta remember I lived in Miami six years coaching and we had this every day," recalled Erickson.

Fortunately for the Sun Devils the shortened practice comes a week before the much-hyped match up with Georgia. But that is not to say that the boys wearing maroon and gold are taking this week's opponent, UNLV, lightly.

"(UNLV) has a lot of talent," said Erickson. "They're very athletic defensively and in the secondary. At linebacker they run real well. They're huge up front. They got some really big guys in the defensive front. Offensively (Frank) Summers their running back is a very good player. Their quarterback is very athletic and they've got a lot of skill, which Vegas has always had."

"They've always been like that. They're able to get skill there. They score points and they had an opportunity to beat Utah at Utah in the fourth quarter. They're very capable of beating us if we don't play like we're capable of."

However, the head coach did seem confident and had some positive things to say about his offense.

"I thought we played pretty good in the first half of the Northern Arizona game and I thought we played pretty consistently against Stanford," Erickson stated. "I thought we were pretty balanced against Stanford more so than we were in the first game."

Although Erickson is pleased with the offense to this point, he is eager to have running back Keegan Herring return to the lineup at full strength.

"Keegan makes a huge difference," stated Erickson. "He's a guy who energizes you plus he can make plays. Sometimes I don't know where he is going but he makes plays and he makes big plays. Before I got here and last year he made some huge plays for us and we have to get him back in the lineup as soon as we are capable of doing that."

Erickson also had insights into the development and maturation of the offensive line.

"Everyone talks about sacks and I don't know if you can just say the offensive front is based on how many sacks they give up," noted Erickson. "They're playing better and I think the biggest thing, and it's even the veterans, is that they're learning what (Offensive Line Coach Greg Smith) is teaching."

"Last year it took a little longer because those guys have been in a different system. Even Shaun (Lauvao), (Thomas) Altieri and Paul (Fanaika) are different players than they were a year ago because they're picking up the technique that coach is teaching them."

Much has been made of Erickson's 2008 recruiting class and near double digit players that have seen action from that group. Yet, the Sun Devil head coach laid some praise on his first recruiting class from 2007 as well as this past one.

"They're getting better all the time. It helps playing in games and then when you're practicing our stuff they get better all the time," Erickson remarked. "All the young guys are getting better not just the true freshmen. We have a lot of redshirt freshmen that people forget about that have only been here a year that are playing quite a bit too and they get better all the time. The thing about younger guys is that they get better a little bit faster because they just learn quicker."

Coach Erickson talked specifically about one of those redshirt freshmen, Matt Hustad. The offensive lineman has been sidelined the past couple of weeks with a knee injury.

"Well, right now we're going to play him at tackle," Erickson stated. "We're going to start him at left tackle. Maybe flip him on both sides with the possibility of him playing some at center as a third center for us. That way the possibility of redshirting Andrew Sampson is still there."

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