No Significant Changes for Rest of the Season

Dennis Erickson isn't about to give up on this season quite yet. The Sun Devils head coach said at his Monday press conference that he is going to continue to play the players he feels gives ASU the best chance to win.

"We're going to play whoever we need to play to win games," said Erickson, "It's not that we're going to try to get ready for next year; next year is Saturday, as far as I'm concerned."

"We have a lot of them playing (freshmen), so they get better every week, just because of the amount of practice. It's like any football team; we have to just continue to improve. If we go out with good work ethic and do the things that we're supposed to do in practice, then we'll get better and better.

"Whether they're freshmen or seniors, that is what we're trying to accomplish. We are going to stay the course; we are going to stay the damn course."

For the first time all season, doubt was heard in the coach's voice when he was asked about the confidence level of his locker room.

"Well, anytime you lose five straight football games and you're not playing very well, obviously your confidence level isn't nearly as high as it would be as when I was sitting here a year ago," said Erickson, "Obviously, that is just the nature of it."

"Anytime you lose, anytime things aren't going very well, and you find a way to lose a football game, your confidence level isn't there."

Erickson said that the Devils just have to keep going out and working hard, because eventually that hard work will pay off.

"Again the only thing that you can do there is continue to, as I said earlier, practice, same work ethic, keep doing the same things, just keep hammering away."

"There is no other thing to do. Really that's the only thing you can do, just keep battling and soon some good things are going to happen, and you get that confidence boost. When you're losing, obviously your confidence level is not as high as it is when you win."

The Devils will try to regroup and find some confidence as they head into Reser Stadium to take on Oregon St, a place very familiar to Erickson.

"The first time that I went back was when they dedicated the new stadium, and I got to sit in one of those luxury boxes, which was a good deal. I kind of enjoyed that. I don't think they'll quite give me something like that this time around."

"To say it's just another game, you know really isn't the truth, but it is at this point," said the former Beaver coach, "I haven't coached there in six or seven years. So, it's just a game that hopefully we can continue to improve and give ourselves a chance to win."

Erickson has nothing but praise for Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley. Erickson succeeded Riley after Riley went to the NFL and Riley then succeeded Erickson when he made the jump to the pros.

"Well, Mike Riley has done the best job of coaching I've seen in the country over the last six or seven years," said Erickson, "They're tough, they're physical, they are what they are, they are what they believe in, they stay with it and that is why they win a lot of football games."

"I don't know if there is anybody in the country who does a better job at coaching, I really don't. Their players play hard all the time, and it's a hard place to play when you go up there, that's obvious, and I know that from both sides of the sideline. Mike does such a great job. I don't know if there is anybody who has done a better job."

The key to beating the Beavers is containing the talented freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers.

"Jacquizz is an incredible young runner. Obviously he's not very tall, but he's very powerful, has great feet and runs the football inside extremely well, and he also has great speed. I knew he was going to be a good runner before he emerged in the USC game. That is kind of when everybody started to know who he was."

"He is a guy who gets in there, can run it inside, gets lost in there, and all of a sudden, because of his leg strength, he breaks a lot of tackles. He's one of the better backs in our league. You put the combination of his brother (WR James Rodgers) in there with reverses and things like that, which they do, and it is a pretty good 1-2 punch."

Erickson was pleased with his own freshman running back Ryan Bass after the tailback saw his first extended playing time of the season against Oregon.

"I thought Ryan came in and did some really good things. He finally got a chance to come in and play for a period of time, which he really hasn't had that opportunity."

Erickson admitted that until a player gets a chance in the game, it is really hard to judge their talent level.

"Sometimes it's really hard to tell in practice, but you could really see in that game that he has strength and he can make people miss. I thought he did some good things. Obviously he is young, so he has a lot of things to learn, but he'll see more action this week."

"He can catch a football, and I thought he pass-protected well in a couple of opportunities that he had to pass-protect. So, you'll see a heck of a lot more of him in the next five weeks."

The other move that Erickson made on Saturday was to try and give kicker Thomas Weber a bit of a break so he could focus just on kicking. Trevor Hankins replaced Weber and had two decent punts and shanked one.

"Well, I was just trying to find a way for him to kick better; basically that's what transpired there. Trevor [Hankins] is a pretty good punter and had been punting pretty well for us, though he obviously shanked the one."

"He has a strong leg and that's the reason that I did it, to try to take some of the heat off Thomas, because he had been struggling a little bit kicking and that's pretty obvious. I might do that this week, but I don't know."

The Devils will return to practice tomorrow afternoon at Kajikawa Practice Field.


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