Devils to Embrace Athens Atmosphere

There is nothing that can prepare the ASU football team for the atmosphere they are about to encounter at the University of Georgia on Saturday. This is why at today's press conference with Sun Devils' head coach, Dennis Erickson; he expressed his excitement for the upcoming contest against the Bulldogs.

The Southeastern Conference has an atmosphere like nothing the Sun Devils have experienced before. Taking on the Bulldogs on their home field will be an environment many players have not been exposed to and there are limited ways to prepare for it. Coach Erickson and his team are ready to welcome it and go out and play the game. Encouraging his players to just have fun, Coach believes this that games like these are what college football is all about.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for these guys to go down there and play, enjoy it," Erickson stated. "To me it's an exciting thing for our players and I'm going to tell them exactly what I think it's going to be like. There are going to be distractions and the fans down there are fun to be around so its college football at its best, that's what it's all about."

The Sun Devils will travel Thursday to Athens, Georgia to prepare for the upcoming challenge. With the earlier than usual departure, the team will have the opportunity to adjust to the time change and get settled before they face their next opponent.

Georgia, talented and highly ranked football team, is now 2-1 with a loss against Oklahoma State to begin this season. The Bulldogs have given up a total of 78 points in the last two games but Coach Erickson believes that, "When you give up points there are a lot of reasons for giving up points, it could be field position it could be turnovers it could be a lot of different things. I don't see any difference between them this year and last year to be very honest with you."

Although the team appears not to miss a beat, they have had some major players depart. However, senior Joe Cox is proving to adequately fill the shoes of his predecessor at quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

"Cox is playing really well, he doesn't make very many mistakes," Erickson stated. "He's got a good arm and they do a nice job with him. He understands his job and understands what he's doing and like I said, they run the football really well and their receivers make a lot of plays; I mean they're really good."

Although the Sun Devils will face their first ranked team this season, Coach Erickson doesn't pay much attention to the number in front of the team. Having relatively easy first two games of the season, Saturday will be a true test to find out exactly where they are as a team.

"I don't believe it makes any difference; they're playing the opponent," Erickson explained. "We're playing Georgia which should be enough regardless of what is in front of it. We're just excited to go down there and play. It's not a matter of who we play or what their rank is. We're searching right now for where we're at as a football team."

A challenge for the Sun Devil football team will be correcting their errors from the Louisiana-Monroe game, including minimizing their penalties, down from the 12 infractions committed during last Saturday's competition. Coach Erickson knows his team will not be able to repeat those mistakes against the Bulldogs and still have a chance to win.

"We did some things that were pretty good and you know the penalties situation was inexcusable," Erickson commented. "When you go down there you're going to get beat bad at Georgia if you have that many penalties and we had some dumb ones, ones that we haven't had around here. We had a couple personal fouls and we had a couple on some things upfront that we're trying to get straight as far as how people are looking at it, the cut block and so forth because everyone looks at it a bit differently."

Another issue facing the Sun Devils is the possible absence of starting kicker, Thomas Weber. His backup Bobby Wenzig took the field against the Warhawks and performed well but the situation could be much different in a hostile environment this weekend. The true freshman walk-on made all of his five extra point attempts as well as a 24-yard field goal.

"He knocked through the extra points and knocked through the field goal when he had the chance so pretty hard to complain," Erickson remarked.

Last year's offensive line struggled throughout the season but Erickson has faith in his players as they continue to grow and improve.

"We're much more solid, we've got more depth, and we're playing a little bit better technique wise," Erickson noted. "We made some moves to get our best players in the right positions I believe but as we go through the next 10 weeks if we lose a guy or two, we'll put people out there who will play pretty well. I like where we're at.

"Are we a great offensive line? No, but we're getting better all the time. We're better than we were a year ago at this time, I'll say that much."

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