Lack of Big Plays Continue to Haunt Devils

The weekly press conference is always started the same way, asking for questions for Coach Erickson. Today, Erickson quipped when he said that he was asking the media for answers. The veteran head coach has fallen into the worst losing streak of his long career and is looking for a way out of it.

"We're just not making plays when we need to," said Erickson, "You can go through a number of different situations, and anytime it's a two-point game, obviously you can go through every play and say if we did this or if we did that."

However, Erickson was very pleased with the effort and energy that his team played with up in Corvallis.

"We played with great effort," he commented. "I liked the energy that we played with against Oregon State and I thought that we obviously had chances to win the football game."

"With the enthusiasm of how we played the game, that's how you play the game. That's how the game is meant to be played. I thought that we did that probably the best that we've done since we played Stanford."

"To me, that's what we have to continue to do, and if we do that, then we have an opportunity to win the rest of our football games," said Erickson, "But it's something that needs to be done all the time. It's not something you can just do every once in a while. That's how we have got to play in this program every time we line up; have fun and fly around."

Erickson said the main problem he had with his defense was that they didn't tackle well. He credits that to the running style of Jacquizz Rodgers.

"Defensively, we made a lot of plays, tackled better. You know Jacquizz Rodgers is a heck of a player," said Erickson, "Offensively, we made some plays and I thought that Rudy [Carpenter] played real well in that game."

"I'm not happy with the loss at all, but we did play with enthusiasm. You can't look at it as anything other than a loss, but there were some positives that you can take out of that game."

The red zone offense continued to plague ASU, a common theme throughout the season.

"We're not getting it in the end zone," stated Erickson, "We've done it all, so all we can do is keep plugging away. The thing that we did do is we were in the red zone, five or six times."

"We moved the football pretty well at times; better than we have all year, against what I consider a pretty good defense. That's a plus aspect of it and sometimes you get down there against a good defense and it's hard to get it in the end zone, but we have to get better there too."

Another concern for Erickson was the amount of penalties committed by the offense. The trend started the first play of the game and continued throughout the rest of the contest.

"Well, we had ten penalties, and we had six offside. Of the ten, six of them were that," recalled Erickson. "Maybe (we were) anxious, not focused, the crowd. There are a lot of different things, they're all excuses though and you can't do that. You can't put yourself at 1st and 15 on the road as many times as we did."

"We were in those situations every time. To me, it's focus. We used the silent snap count quite a bit in that game, because we couldn't hear. A couple of them were on that. I don't know, it's just lack of focus to me. So, if you can't handle it, then get someone in there who can. That's the bottom line and that's what you have to do."

One bright spot on the offense was the play of running back Shaun DeWitty. The junior became the first back to rush for over 100 yards this season for the Devils.

"Shaun played well. He's finally healthy. The reason we decided to start Shaun is he does every aspect of the game very well," explained Erickson, "He's a good pass protector, he's a hard runner, and he's a guy that is not going to make mental mistakes."

"We felt that we needed that; we need that against everybody, but we felt that we needed to keep people in against Oregon State because of their pass rush, so we were able to do that. He ran the football pretty darn well, and we will continue to start him. We'll start him again this week."

Erickson also explained that Ryan Bass is still bothered by a hamstring injury that caused him to be limited at practice and that is why he didn't see any carries last weekend.

It will be an interesting match-up this weekend for the Devils as they head to Seattle to take on the winless Washington Huskies. It will be a game where both teams will be desperately looking to win a football game.

"Well, obviously they're in an unusual situation, losing their coach, or their coach being fired," commented Erickson. "I've known Tyrone for many years, and it's a travesty as far as I'm concerned, but that's how it goes in this business."

"But, they have some talent; they play well at home a lot of times. Obviously the New York Giants aren't coming in there to play them. I'm sure that they look at us as a game that they can win."

"Their young quarterback (Ronnie Fouch) is playing pretty well. They have a lot of young players. They're very similar to us in that they have a lot of young players."

Erickson said he doesn't know how a team with a lame duck coach, such as Washington, will play. He remarked that they could play fired up to send the coach out right, or they could have given up on the season.

"Who knows how to react to that situation? It's two teams who haven't won," said Erickson. "We haven't won in six games and they haven't won at all, so it's two football teams that are dying to win a football game. That's kind of what it's all about if you are going to take the game and look at it. It's two teams that are just dying to get a win."

The Devils will return to practice tomorrow afternoon at Kajikawa Practice Field and will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before heading off to Seattle on Friday.

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