Double-edged sword

After routing the Idaho State Bengals 50-3 Saturday night, the Sun Devils went right into their bye week looking to get healthy and tighten up a few things before facing Louisiana Monroe. An early season hiatus can have both its advantages and disadvantages.

The Devils performed well both offensively and defensively, which is naturally evident by the final score. Yet, the fact that they were able to put forth a performance like that while missing several key players on both sides of the ball including Lawrence Guy and Shelly Lyons on defense due to injuries, and starting wide receiver Kerry Taylor due to a one-game suspension make this performance that much more impressive.

Bye weeks can be a double-edged sword for teams looking to build on a good performance. On one hand it allows you to get healthy, and it gives you an extra week to prepare. On the other hand it can take you out of a good rhythm as a team by having so much time between games. As for coach Dennis Erickson goes, he was very pleased with his team during the bye week.

"I don't know if you ever completely accomplish what you want to, but we got two good days in, and yesterday was bottom-line, really good work," Erickson said after Thursday's session. "Today, we got a chance to look at Louisiana-Monroe and see what they're doing offensively and just familiarize ourselves, and then we're coming back with practice Sunday, so we'll be about an hour and a half just to familiarize ourselves and get our legs back under us. So they have tomorrow and Saturday off and be back to practice Sunday."

Though there may not seem to be much to improve on after a 50-3 win, but Erickson wanted to fix a few things.

"Just as individuals and a team, it's like fall camp when we went against each other basically, and just try to get better," Erickson mentioned. "We moved some people around to different positions in the offensive front particularly just to see where we're at."

One problem with beating a team as bad as the Devils did, is the fact that it's hard to gauge where players are at that are competing for playing time, most notably the secondary.

"You don't know," Erickson admitted. "We have no idea. We might not know for a long time. It's hard to tell, then you got a week off and that makes it really hard to tell. It's almost like starting over.

"Our corners have been playing good all spring and all fall, and our safeties played pretty well in that game. The thing they didn't do is they didn't make any mental mistakes. That's one thing you can control is how many mistakes you make and we didn't make very many if any in the secondary against Idaho State."

With three corners capable of starting in Omar Bolden, Pierre Singfield, and Terell Carr, it may seem like coach Erickson has a tough decision to make when it comes to who plays.

"Not really," Erickson declared. "It's who plays the best the week before, and that's what's great about having some depth.

Erickson is especially pleased with the play of Singfield, who truly had to earn everything that he had coming for him.

"It's a tremendous story (Pierre Singfield)," Erickson remarked. "We were fortunate, he was better than a walk-on and we knew that, but as things worked out we didn't have a scholarship. It's a great story and he's playing pretty well."

Some offensive players that impressed Erickson on Saturday were first-time starter Danny Sullivan, true freshman running back Cameron Marshall, and senior running back Dmitri Nance.

Sullivan was 13 of 25 for 165 yards and looked good despite several dropped passes. When asked what he was looking for out of Danny in the bye week, Erickson just wants him to maintain the course.

"Just continue to manage the game like he is," Erickson stated. "He made a few reads that he's got to get better at, which he improved on. If he continues to play like he did against Idaho State against tougher competition then I'll be happy."

Marshall was the second tailback to enter the game, and looked good in his college debut.

"He didn't make any mental mistakes either for a freshman," Erickson pointed out. "He probably pass protects as good as any freshman I've been around. He's physical and didn't break any assignments and I thought he ran pretty well too.

The Sun Devil skipper also heaped praise on his senior tailback.

"Dmitri was hurt last year, so I don't think we saw the real Dmitri Nance," Erickson explained, "just like we didn't see the real Chris McGaha because of injuries. So he's the one who has impressed me the most this camp and doesn't make mistakes. I think we all have to look and see what happens in the next couple three weeks."

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