Devils Staying Loose

There is a fine line between focused and being uptight, and in their current five-game losing streak perhaps the Sun Devils were more of the later. The atmosphere at Thursday's practice was certainly loose, and head coach Dennis Erickson spoke of that practice atmosphere when he addressed the media.

"We just have to play football, " said Erickson. "Play better than we played. The bottom line is that if everybody plays better than they played, which we haven't played good much of the year, we'll play very good as team."

"Just go out, have fun and play the game."

The Sun Devil skipper feels that the team has put a little pressure on itself during its struggles in the last few weeks.

"Everybody wants to win," stated Erickson. "Sometimes when you try to win so bad…we just have to go out there, be athletes and be focused on what the heck is going on. Not make mental mistakes – that's killed us more than anything."

"Think about it – we fell behind 14-0 every time we stepped on the field in the last five games. We got to go out, come out early and just have fun playing the game."

Arizona State did trail 19-0 against Oregon State in last year's game, before outscoring the Beavers 44-13 the rest of the contest for one of

many comeback wins last season. Nonetheless, Oregon State went on to a 9-4 season, finishing 4th in the Pac-10.

In 2008 Oregon State is currently 4-3 overall, but 3-1 in the Pac-10 and due to their win over USC control their own destiny when it comes to winning the conference crown. Erickson remarked that the Beavers are just as good this year, as they were last season.

"They were one of the best defenses in the country last year," said Erickson, "and this year they're very much the same defensively. Offensively, they got some weapons now. The quarterback (Lyle Moevao) is playing a lot better than he did last year. He's throwing the ball so much better, so much more accurately – he's a different guy and he's tough."

ASU's head coach also singled out Jacquizz and James Rodgers, as well as the Beavers' front five as other strong aspects of their offense.

"Defensively, they got eight seniors on defense," commented Erickson. "These are guys that have been through the program. Mike (head coach Mike Riley), as I've said before has done a nice job recruiting guys who believe in what they're doing. They've been there a long time and keep on recycling players."

"The difference to me is that they're better offensively."

The trip to Corvallis will always be special for Erickson, as he returns to a place where he coached four years, accumulated a 31-17 record and won Pac-10 Coach of the Year in the 2000 season.

"It was a fun four years from me there," said Erickson. "Made a lot of friends, enjoyed the school and the students."

"That new stadium is something special. I'd like to think I had a little bit to do with it. I don't if you would call it (going back to Corvallis) fun. I'd rather go back in July and play golf."

When asked what his most memorable moment at Oregon State was, Erickson didn't have to ponder long for an answer.

"I think the biggest moment was the first year I was there," recalled Erickson. "They hadn't had a winning season in 235 years and Oregon State beat Cal to get that seventh win."

"For something like that to happen the first time in years – it was a mob (scene)."

Junior college transfer Tom Njunge has been inserted to the right tackle spot in the fourth game of the season, and generally speaking the ASU head coach has been pleased with his performance and stated that the lineman has risen to the occasion.

"He's getting better," said Erickson. "He's improving all the time. He's very athletic. Not as big and strong as you need, but he's played OK."


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