Sullivan's backup, Samson Szakacsy, has been struggling in the last two practices, and currently has sizeable ground to make up in order to be a threat to unseat Sullivan. He does however bring a more athletic dimension to the position compared to the classic pocket passer style that defines Sullivan.
"Samson can run round and do some different things," Erickson noted, "and he's accurate."
Currently at the no. 3 spot, and poised to move up the depth chart is midyear high school transfer Brock Osweiler, who shows confidence and composure beyond his years.
"Brock has a lot of talent but he's young," Erickson commented. "He just turned 18."
The Sun Devils skipper indicated that he'd like to go into fall camp with three quarterbacks who have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Even though he knows that all three won't get equal reps in August, he would like to have an established depth chart at this role.
Oliver Seizing the Opportunity
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Craig Bray decided to give sophomore Oliver Aaron reps at first team WILL linebacker because he knew already what incumbent Mike Nixon can bring to the table. Throughout spring, the coaching staff and those attending practices are finding out what the Gainesville, Fla. native is capable of as he justifies the chance he has been given.
In Wednesday's practice, #18 was flying all over the field and delivering punishing tackles.
"I'm feeling good right now and things are going as I expected them to go," Oliver said. "I've been doing a lot of film study in the off-season, working on my read keys. I'm out there knowing what I'm supposed to do and not spending time thinking what I'm supposed to do."
Playing three time zones away from home has become an easy adjustment for Oliver because of his success. "Knowing that I'm out here being successful at what I came out here to do on the field and in the classroom…it's a real blessing," he said. "I don't have to worry about anything else but football and my classes."
Oliver is well aware of the monumental task that lies ahead of him in unseating Nixon, but he is confident in his abilities. "We have a lot of competition at linebacker and that makes everybody elevate their game," Oliver remarked. "If any of us slips up, we know that we're easily replaced.
"I'm always up for a challenge. Nixon is a great linebacker and led the Pac-10 in interceptions. But that doesn't mean I have to take a back seat to him. The best player will play and my goal is to be the starter."
- With Zach Schlink not cleared for contact yet and Mike Marcisz coming late to practice due to class, Brent Good lined up at right guard. Jon Hargis and Andrew Sampson rotated at left guard. Overall the offensive line had one of it best spring practices run blocking today, with Dimitri Nance standing out among the ball carriers.
- Gerald Munns was playing at second team MIKE linebacker on Wednesday. The senior missed the majority of 2008 due to personal reasons and started spring as a third stringer.
- On defense, defensive tackle Otis Smith continues to do well against the run, as does middle linebacker Travis Goethel. In the secondary, Terell Carr intercepted a Sullivan pass, while fellow cornerback Pierre Singfield had a pass breakup. - Defensive end Jamaar Jarrett and safety Jarrell Holman were sidelined by injuries. Toa Tuitea and Matt Tucker replaced them respectively on the second team.
- Defensive tackle Zeb Togiai injured his ankle in practice and had to be carted off.