Youth is Served

The Sun Devils coaching staff took advantage of the bye week and gave its younger players longer than usual looks in practice. ASU head coach Dennis Erickson was pleased with their performance.

"It was nice to see them out there practicing, running something else besides the scout offense and defense," said Erickson. "It was a good chance for them to get out there, show a little of enthusiasm and give the other guys a little rest.

"We'll do the same thing tomorrow and part of Thursday we'll start on UCLA. The 1's and 2's got some snaps here and there, but it was mainly the second and third group. And some of these (young players) are (already) playing obviously."

One first-year player that wasn't in attendance was Lawrence Guy, who according to Erickson had to take care of an academic matter, but is scheduled to be at Wednesday's session.

Seniors act the part

It would be easy for ASU to be torn apart during its six-game losing streak. The main reason that this didn't occur was the leadership the team's seniors have shown.

"When you lose six games you find out who has the leadership, the courage and all those different things," explained Erickson. "It's pretty easy when you win eight, nine straight games like we did a year ago when they were juniors. To be in that situation, come to practice and keep on fighting to get better and better says a lot about their character.

"They've had great careers here and I know that they want to go out the right way. I can't say enough about them. Some have them been here for five years, some of them have been here two years. It's an awfully good group."

Erickson noted the efforts that Rudy Carpenter and Troy Nolan exhibited to bring the offense and defense respectively to conduct informal workouts during the summer months.

"Hopefully our guys that are underclassmen learn from that and continue that next year," remarked Erickson. "I doubt that they wouldn't."

Nance Bounce Back

Dimitri Nance was much maligned during the Devils' skid, but the team's last game offered his redemption. The junior running back carried the ball nine times for 48 yards, all in the second half. His performance helped start-up a stagnant offense and gave the ASU receivers favorable coverages to work with.

While he won't win his starting job back for the UCLA game, the Sun Devils skipper didn't rule out an appearance by Nance in the earlier stages of that contest.

"He had that thumb (injury) and I think we underrated all that stuff," said Erickson. "Things weren't going so well, he fumbled a couple of times during that streak and everybody looks at those things because they jump at you on T.V.

"It was good to see him come in and run like he's capable of running. He's a good football player. We saw that the year before and it was good to see him come back to old form. Sometimes seasons are different, depending on injuries…and it's such a short trip from the outhouse to the penthouse and back to the outhouse, as a player and as a coach. He'll play well the last two games."

Nance didn't necessarily see his performance as redemption, but was rather happy to contribute again to the ground attack.

"I was just waiting my turn to go in," said Nance, "and when I got in I was doing what I needed to do. I was just running like I knew I could run. Being on the bench gave me more motivation to run harder, and maybe I needed that (being benched) to get going sometimes."

Nance added that with the recent personnel changes the offensive line's run blocking has improved.

The running back should probably be one of few ASU's players who'd rather play this week and keep his momentum going. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that a bye week is always a positive even though the team doesn't have many banged up players.

"We have two must win games coming up," said Nance. "We need to win them if we want to go to a bowl, so it's good that we're getting to rest up."

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