Devils Maintain Upbeat Tempo at Practice

Despite the Sun Devils' five-game skid, it's evident in practice that their sprit isn't broken and head coach Dennis Erickson was pleased with the team's performance on Tuesday's afternoon.

"It thought practice went well." said Erickson. "I thought we executed pretty well on both sides. It was very spirited. These guys have a lot of heart and they're gonna come out and practice."

"They're gonna get better, go to Oregon State and give us a chance to win. That's how it's gonna be and that's how it's been most of the year."

Erickson added that he didn't feel that the overall execution in practice has declined from last year to this one. "We made more mistakes," commented Erickson, "but I don't think the execution dropped off much at all."

Last Saturday, running back Ryan Bass received the most snaps in a game thus far in 2008. His ten carries and 56 yards eclipsed his combined numbers in both categories in the previous contests he participated this year.

Bass is currently suffering from a hamstring pull that has been lingering since the USC game three weeks ago, but Erickson said that the plan is to give the true freshman more carries.

"He's a guy that can make you miss," said Erickson as he described Bass' skills, "he has really good feet. Very strong lower body that can break tackles. He's put on 15 pounds since he's been here."

When the Sun Devils face the Beavers on Saturday, their defense will certainly focus on stopping Oregon State's diminutive yet dangerous running back, Jacquizz Rodgers. The true freshmen is one of several talented ball carriers in the conference who more than make up for their small stature with an abundance of talent.

Erickson didn't believe that having shorter running backs is a function of more teams employing the spread offense these days.

"If you have a guy that's explosive and fast, it doesn't make a difference," sated Erickson. "Those guys that are 6-3 250 and run like those little guys – they're playing in that other league (NFL)."

Erickson, who coached Ken Symington at Oregon State earlier this decade, said that the comparisons between the former shifty Beaver running back and Rodgers are valid.

"Very similar," said Erickson. "Feet wise, I think Rodgers is probably faster. But as far moving in there and doing those kinds of things he has strong legs and is a lot like Kenny. They're very similar and that's scary."

Wide Receiver Kyle Williams was out with a concussion he suffered in the Oregon game and his status for Saturday is unknown at this time. Fellow wideout Mike Jones didn't fully practice because of his back spasms.

This allowed receivers such as Kerry Taylor, Nate Kimbrough, T.J. Simpson and Brandon Smith to receive more practice reps and all took advantage and performed well it according to their head coach.

James Brooks is still nursing a sore ankle, and is questionable for Oregon State game. Thomas Altieri who suffered a stinger against Oregon did fully practice and just like weeks past rotated with Garth Gerhart at first team center. Angelo Fobbs-Valentino who's coming back from a knee injury was on the scout team.

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