Erickson Pleased with Sullivan's Performance

For the first time in his ASU tenure, Danny Sullivan took the place of injured starting quarterback Rudy Carpenter, and was at the helm of the first team offense reps during the entire practice. ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson complimented the junior's showing on Tuesday night, but didn't declare him the starter for this week's game at USC.

"He threw it pretty good," said Erickson of Sullivan. "He's been around that offense for a while. Obviously, Saturday it will be a little different ball game than practice…I thought he did really well mentally. Physically – he has a strong arm. So I thought it was good."

Carpenter was at practice but not in uniform and still sporting a protective boot on his left foot. The senior appears to be out for Wednesday's session as well, and Erickson stated that he would like to see if the starting signal caller could go on Thursday – the last team practice before their showdown with the Trojans this weekend.

"If he can't practice Thursday, then it's a game time decision," noted Erickson. "It's just hard to tell. I don't know that we'll know until Saturday (whether Carpenter plays) to be honest with you."

The ASU head coach commented that because of Carpenter's commanding knowledge of the offense, he can naturally afford to skip all of this week's practices and still suit up and play on Saturday. "It's not like he has to practice everyday," explained Erickson. "You'd like to see him get some (practice) and get the rust off a little bit. But he can go and play Saturday without practice."

When asked if Carpenter was the exception to the unwritten football policy of ‘no practice-no play.' Erickson, who had two coaching stints in the pros replied: "I'm not sure where that's at, I know it's not in the NFL…I think it depends on the guy. The bottom line is how he will perform on Saturday."

"I really don't have that policy. If a guy is hurt, and will be able to come back Saturday, and is a starter, and played good – you'd be dumb not to play him. Some guys that are hurt and don't practice, it makes a difference."

Erickson believed that Carpenter will do everything in his power to play on Saturday. "His senior year, an opportunity to play in the coliseum where he's from in that area," said Erickson, "against a great team…he'll do everything he can. If there's any possibility that he can get back - he'll be back."

"It's a matter of me making that decision, as opposed to him. He'd probably play in a boot."

Carpenter wasn't an idle bystander on Tuesday evening and was instructing Sullivan and the other Sun Devil quarterbacks during practice. "I told him ‘it's fun to be a coach, isn't it?' joked Erickson. "It's great to sit back there and say ‘golly, that quarterback screwed up. How the heck can he not make that throw?' It was good for him putting him on the other side of it."

Defensive tackle David Smith also missed practice. The senior is nursing a couple of ‘stingers' but nonetheless the ASU head coach expected him to play on Saturday. Safety Max Tabach tore his ACL and is out for the year. "He'll have surgery in the next couple of weeks, said Erickson. "Bad deal – it wasn't even contact. It was a situation where he kind of slid and tore it."

Linebacker Brandon Magee will be kept out this week, but Erickson was hopeful that with the following week being a bye one that the true freshman would be back for the Oregon game on the 25th. "He's just not strong enough right now," remarked Erickson.

Ever since the UNLV game, opposing defenses have been successfully employing a cover-two scheme against the Sun Devils. Combating that strategy has obviously become a top priority in the team's preparations this week.

"We gotta find ways to throw it against that coverage two," stated Erickson. "There are ways to throw it against that coverage. On first, second, third and short or medium you can do it. The hard part of it is, irregardless of what (defense) you play the third and long."

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