First Spring Session Runs Long

After a disappointing 2008 season, the Arizona State Sun Devils took the field on a sunny Tuesday afternoon for the first 2009 spring practice. When the final whistle ASU head coach Dennis Erickson made his way over to the media after addressing his team. His demeanor was calm and he looked happy with the performance turned in by his players.

"It was good," said Erickson. "We were out there for a little longer than normal but any time we're not in pads we have to get a lot of team-work in because we're dealing with the first group, second group and third group. We're going to be out here a little longer in the spring.

Perhaps the biggest change for the Sun Devils this spring is breaking in a new quarterback, something that has not happened in Tempe for several years now. With the departure of three-year starter Rudy Carpenter, the Sun Devils now turn to a bunch of unproven backups to fill the void. Senior Danny Sullivan enters spring as the unit's most experience played and starter.

"It's hard to tell (who will be the starter at QB," commented Erickson. "Obviously Danny Sullivan gets the first opportunity and Samson (Szakacsy) gets the second opportunity and we'll work from there.

"I thought from what I saw that both of them threw it pretty darn good and for two freshman I thought Brock (Osweiler) flung it around pretty good too. They all had their moments but it's going to take a while to decide what's going on. We've added a few different things offensively that we're trying to look at right now. I won't make that decision probably until the end of spring. I would like to make it by the end of spring."

The competition may not be a glamorous one although it's at the position that gathers more attention than any other.

Despite Erickson's positive comments on the quarterbacks, onlookers probably did not come away thrilled with what they saw from the signal callers today.

Sullivan had a handful of interceptions and the others showed their inexperience. However, Erickson believes that competition will improve the entire team, not just the quarterbacks.

"I like the competition at all positions," he explained. "We are in our third spring here and we're finally starting to develop a little bit of depth and competition so nobody has it made.

"Everybody has to come out here and practice hard or else somebody is going to beat them out. As this program continues that will continue to happen and that just makes everyone better."

The running back position is the site of another heated battle. Senior Dimitri Nance appears to have the inside track at the starting role.

"Dimitri (Nance) is number one, he has earned that," Stated Erickson.

"Ryan (Bass) is going to get a lot more turns right now. He'll get better because that's how he is. We've got James Morrison and we've got a few coming in that are good too."

The experienced head coach made clear his disappointment in last year's team. After starting the season ranked the Sun Devils won their first two games before imploding and finishing the season an unfulfilling 5-7.

Everything was capped off with a thrashing at the hands of in-state rival Arizona and the 2008 season is one that fans of the maroon and gold are itching to remove from their memory.

"Last season sucked," Erickson admitted. "It wasn't any good. I don't want to ever go through that again and neither does this football team and neither do the fans. Any time you have a bad year like that you want to get out there on the field and prove that you are better."

The team will continue spring practice as they return to the field Wednesday and Thursday before scrimmaging on Saturday.

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