Sun Devils Full of Optimism for 2009 Season

The buzz around ASU's media day was filled with confidence about this upcoming season and plenty of determination to get the bad taste of last season out of everyone's mouths.

"We're really looking forward to the year," Erickson said. "We've been through three practices. Two in shorts, one in shoulder pads, but enthusiasm has been good. We've practiced very well. The intensity has been good. So it's an exciting time for all of us right now. It's the start of the season, so we're like everybody else, undefeated.

"We're looking forward to competing for the Pac-10 championship. We're looking forward to making up for what happened last year. None of us were satisfied with 5-7; that's not where we want this program to be. Our goal is to compete for a championship, go to a bowl game, probably the same goals everyone else should have in our league. Again, sometimes you get a wake up call, hopefully last year was a wake up call and we have to figure out what we have to do to win football games."

One of the hot topics leading up to the season will be the battle between senior Danny Sullivan, sophomore Samson Szakacsy, and true freshman Brock Osweiler for the quarterback position vacated by Rudy Carpenter who moved onto the NFL. The three have yet to start in a game, and Szakacsy hasn't taken any regular season snaps.

Nonetheless, Erickson is confident in this group.

"At the end of spring Danny Sullivan was number one and is number one right now," Erickson commented. "Samson is behind him and Brock Osweiler is our third quarterback. It was very competitive in the spring, but Danny understands what were doing, he's very smart. He understands our offense, and that experience really put him ahead in the spring. Plus he's really talented. He's got a strong arm; very accurate. He's big and he can make things happen. He's got great leadership ability.

"I look at it positively because there is competition. There are three quarterbacks I feel good about playing. We'll see what happens in the next three weeks, but like I said before, Danny is our starter."

Sullivan knows he needs to be on top of his game is he is going to maintain his position in front of the other quarterbacks.

"I've got to keep pushing myself," Sullivan acknowledged, "because the one thing I think about is if [they] are they waiting for me to make one mistake. So that's why I keep going on and on.

"I feel very confident. I feel like I'm throwing the ball maybe the best I ever have because I've been more accurate and I'm seeing things a lot better now. I think my teammates are buying into it and the coaches are seeing it too."

For whoever lining under center to be successful, both Erickson and Sullivan know that they will need help from the offensive line and running game.

"For the first time, we can sit in our room and we're two deep and three deep in some areas," Erickson stated. "So it's an exciting time for us because we have depth, we've got guys back from injuries and we're seeing guys out there that have been hurt and its fun to watch them get better, they've got a chip on their shoulder too.

"Ryan Bass has lost 15 pounds. He got real heavy because he thought he had to get big to play which isn't true. It took away from what he does best which is to explode and run. He's got good speed and change of direction and he's a different guy out there right now. I expect him to have much more of an impact than he did a year ago."

"You look up front and every single one of those guys (on the offensive line) on the first team has at least a game of experience. They got some stink to them," Sullivan remarked. "That's one thing they didn't have in the spring. They're starting to be feisty.

"I think they are going to be huge for us (the running backs). I think they are going to be a lot better than people think. We have so much depth at that position. Dmitri struggled last year and he knows it and he's ready to prove himself so that's big for us. Ryan is shifty; he's getting smarter and knows what to do. Shaun Dewitty, James Morrison, the list goes on and on; we are very deep at that position. The running game will be back for us."

One group on the team that figures to make a huge impact on the overall record this year will be the defensive line which brings back starter Dexter Davis and All-American freshman Lawrence Guy.

"Is he (Lawrence guy) Warren Sapp? No, not yet," Erickson pointed out. "Lawrence has spent a lot of time in the weight room and he could be an impact player, but he's got to do it day in and day out. He's got a chance to be real good. Dexter Davis has proven himself for a long time. So when I look at player from that defensive front I say here's Dexter Davis."

Guy realizes he has to make strides and continue to improve.

"I don't really look at the success of me being a freshman All-American at all," Lawrence mentioned. "I just have to play the hardest I can. If I achieve something for doing it then I'm happy for it. I'm trying to be bigger every year than the year before.

"I don't think we should erase the memories from last season because if you don't look at what happened last season, and improve, you can never win a game. We're trying to improve on our mistakes from last season, play the hardest we can.

"You can see it now going into our third year where we're starting to develop some depth," Erickson explained. "And that takes some time. And the thing we've got to do is take it to the next level and beat some teams and get up there. But we're getting there and I'm excited where were at."

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