Erickson Likes the Winning Feeling

For the past two months, almost every Monday, Head Coach Dennis Erickson and the local media gathered to talk about last weekend's Arizona State loss. But not this week. For the first time in exactly two months, Erickson could talk about a victory.

"Not forgettable, I'll tell you that," said Erickson on the feeling of finally getting a victory, "After as many weeks as we went through, it's a good feeling."

"We played well at times, particularly the last couple of weeks, and to get a win like we've said all along, to get that one win to start out with after six straight loses is a pretty good feeling. We still have to deal with what has happened in the past. At least now you can look forward to, hopefully, a few more before it's all over with."

Helping leading the Devils to victory were seniors Rudy Carpenter, Keegan Herring, Mike Jones and Troy Nolan. Last week Erickson made it a point that he was sticking with his seniors and it paid off on Saturday.

"It's good to see them play like that," stated Erickson. "For whatever reason, offensively, there's a number that we could sit here for a week and talk about that we haven't had the productivity that we need offensively."

Keegan Herring helped open up the Devils offense by giving ASU a consistent run threat. Herring, who looked the healthiest he has been all season, ran for 144 yards and a touchdown.

"Finally, we were able to run the football," commented Erickson, "Keegan broke some long ones for us, which we really haven't had happen during the season at all, but that's the kind of runner he is. Once he gets to the second level of the defense, just to the linebacker, he can do a lot of things."

"Obviously the hamstring pull set him back. He was set back during camp then came back and re-pulled it," said Erickson, "I don't even know if he was healthy during the Stanford game, so that set him back another month at least. He's done a lot here and he can finish up the right way. People block for him and he has that secondary and did some awfully good things."

Two seniors contributed largely on the other side of the ball, as Rodney Cox forced a fumble that Troy Nolan turned into a touchdown.

"I thought defensively, Troy Nolan and Rodney Cox probably played their best football," said Erickson. "They made plays, they came up support to run and it was good. Now, we just have to work on getting that fourth win for the seniors and see what happens after that."

Erickson said that besides the backs running well, the revamped offensive line played real well and enabled ASU to have such a potent ground attack.

"Moving Shaun (Lauvao) outside the tackle and Zach (Schlink) inside the guard really helped us on our offensive front," explained Erickson. "Shaun, protection-wise, is very good over there. I thought Zach for his first game did a very good job."

"Anyway, that group against Washington blocked a run pretty darn good and protected pretty darn good. We had a couple sacks in the first series and then after that I thought we protected real well. So, when all that stuff happens, obviously you move the football and those guys on offense."

The Devils will likely have to shake up that line for this weekend, as Zach Schlink's injury will likely keep him out against Washington State.

"Zach was going to get an x-ray and an MRI, because he has a possibility of a torn cartilage and an ankle pull," said Erickson. "We'll know more about Zach here this afternoon I'd guess."

Garth Gerhart saw his first extensive action on Saturday and Coach Erickson said the center graded out really well and figures to see more time the rest of the season.

Next up for ASU is Washington State, who has already set a Pac-10 record for most points allowed in a season and is struggling at 1-9 under first year coach Paul Wulff. Erickson coached Wulff at Washington State and it will be the first time the Sun Devil skipper coaches against a former player.

"He was a great player at center and a great Cougar, a very resilient guy," stated Erickson. "They've had injuries; they've had things go on, they've just had a lot of things go bad. You watch them play at times and they play well. They play hard all the time but they've lost all their quarterbacks. It's been trying for them, but knowing him, they battle every week."

Erickson was asked if he expected Wulff's team to be as hardnosed as he was as a player and the veteran coach replied with a quick yes.

"Knowing him they're going to come in here and battle and play like heck against us," remarked Erickson. "Last week against University of Arizona, going into the fourth quarter, they were in the football game. They scored points, they play hard on defense, but they've lost a lot of guys, plus they're young."

"It's more about us and we've just got to get ready to play and try to get a second win in a row. It's like I told our team yesterday, we've been in this room a lot of times here this year where it hadn't been much fun, but it was a little bit better feeling yesterday and we have to keep that feeling going."

The Devils will return to practice on Tuesday, but at an earlier time. ASU will hit Kajikawa Practice Field at 3:30 due to the Veteran's Day Holiday.

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