Devils Dealing with Injuries

Following Tuesday's practice, Head Coach Dennis Erickson reflected on the team's status with the September 5th, season opener rapidly approaching. The Sun Devils are experiencing a temporary loss of some key players, although Erickson has complete confidence that the depth of his roster can handle it.

Saturday, the Sun Devils held a scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium and thankfully the team suffered very few injuries.

"Brandon Magee was actually the only injury we had and he practiced today," said Erickson. "We came out of it pretty healthy. The only other casualty that we didn't know about until yesterday was Zach Schlink."

Schlink, a sophomore offensive lineman, was out today and potentially for the next two weeks due to a knee injury.

"His other knee, the left one, puffed up," Erickson stated. "The one that he hurt in high school and he has surgery today. He had a scope and they took some cartilage out so he's probably out for about two weeks."

Backup quarterback, Samson Szakacsy, began practice today throwing for the first time in about a week.

"He came out and threw early but then his arm started bothering him a little bit," commented Erickson. "So we're just kind of taking it a day at a time but he was out there executing some of the run game and again we don't want to hurry it. I want him ready to go when we get into game week and see where he is at."

With several players out, Coach Erickson spent time at practice shifting players and seeing what they can do to fill positions most effectively. Due to a team rule violation, James Brooks will be suspended for three games, beginning his season against Oregon State and Coach Erickson looking at his options in Brooks' absence.

"Anytime you lose a player it affects you depth wise," Erickson said. "But we've got some guys (Jamaar) Jarrett and Toa (Tuitea) and we can always move Dexter to that side, so we've got some ways to go."

Another option at defensive end for the Sun Devils is Dean DeLeone, whom "could be a starter for the weak side," claims Erickson. "That's something that we're looking at. Who is going to step up? Is it going to be DeLeone? Is it going to be Jarrett? We've just got to look at it and see what the best two ends are for us regardless of weak or strong."

The Sun Devil offense has depth in the running back position. There will only be a select few who actually see the field this season, which has yet to be determined. Out of the bunch, Erickson has the goal of choosing two running backs to rely on this season.

"I'd like to have two guys," Erickson stated. "I'd like to have a guy that does some things on the inside and a guy that can break in and so you always need two backs, whether they carry 20 times each or one guy carries 25 and the other carries 15, I mean that's the idea situation and that is what we will try to do."

The question remains, which two tailbacks will be taking the majority of the reps on September 5th?

"They've all had their days. I don't know if anyone has day in and day out jumped out," admits Erickson. "We've got to make that decision on two or three backs that will play; we can't play all of them. We've got to make that decision, Bryce (Erickson, running backs coach) and I need to sit down and decide what we're going to do"

The days will quickly pass for Coach Erickson and the Sun Devils while they prepare for their season opener. Injuries will occur, but with the talented depth of the roster, the Sun Devils will be able to fill the spots necessary. Throughout practice and Wednesday's scrimmage the players will be tested to see who will be able to step up. As for the scrimmage, Coach Erickson plans to make it a productive one.

"We're just trying to get some things done tomorrow," Erickson noted. "It's not going to be a long scrimmage but it is going to emphasize some things, mainly red zone and short yardage is what we're going to scrimmage so we're going to focus ourselves on that."

To read more on today's session please go to Sparky's Huddle

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