Quiet intensity

There is no need to remind Arizona State that the level of opposition this week is about to considerably increase. The normally joyful Sun Devils were extremely focused and business like in Tuesday's practice as they prepare for their road game at Georgia.

"It's a different feeling," said Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "It will be different for the next ten weeks when you play a team like Georgia and you play a team in your league. The energy is quite different. I thought we practiced well today. They know what's at stake."

There's little doubt that Sanford stadium will prove to be a hostile environment for the maroon and gold this Saturday in Athens. Some teams may try to pipe in crowd noise in the practices leading up to the game to simulate the anticipated environment and Erickson acknowledged that he has used that approach previously but doesn't intend to use it this week.

"We use the silent snap count so it doesn't make any difference," Erickson explained. "I brought it (crowd noise) in before, but it never worked. They (the players) were dancing but I guess I brought in the wrong music. Should have brought in Neil Diamond, my kind of guys…"

Erickson stated that quarterback Danny Sullivan has done a great job from a leadership stand point and is accountable for his actions.

"When he makes a mistake he lets everybody know in his quiet way of doing things," Erickson said. "He has really taken over that offensive football team which I'd hope he do. He has been around a long time and knows what it takes."

The Sun Devil skipper realizes that his squad will be up against a very fast Georgia defense and keeping it simple is what is needed to counter that challenge.

"We just have to keep on doing what we're doing," Erickson noted. "You have to get hats on them; you can't do a bunch of new stuff or anything like that. You got to continue and run it. They are going to stop you some; they have guys that can flat out play.

"You just have to get helmets on them. I feel good about our plan and we'll just see what happens. You have to mix it up against them, run it and throw it. They're a good football team but I think we're pretty good too."

Sullivan also shared the confidence that his head coach projected.

"I think we're ahead of a lot of people's expectations right now," Sullivan said. "I think people thought that we were going to lay down for Louisiana-Monroe and we didn't. We played very well in that game. Offensively we're pretty good. We just need to stay sharp like we did last week. If we just worry about ourselves and not who we are playing we'll be alright.

"If you control the things you can control you are going to give yourself a great opportunity to win every single week. That's the expectations we give ourselves."

On defense, Erickson stated that his team will always blitz opposing offenses regardless of the opponent, and versus Georgia it will be no more or less than any other team they face.

"You put yourself on an island too often with the receivers they have," Erickson commented, "you don't want to do that every down. We have to change it up like we do every week."

Sullivan acknowledged that he was shocked that a Georgia defense who returned so much talent from last year has given up 78 points in its last two games. However, he said that giving up one or two big plays each game can change the perception of a defense and he fully respects their talents.

"They know what's going on," Sullivan said. "They're so fast and play a lot of coverages too. We'll take it like the 3-3-5: making sure who we are going to and seeing all the rotations."

ASU is entering this game relatively healthy compared to earlier this season, yet one of their key players, kicker Thomas Weber has suffered a groin pull and will be sidelined not only this week but for at least four more games following the Georgia contest.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't going to hurt us," Erickson admitted. "But just like any injury on our team someone has to step up and kick. You can't worry about it; you just have to go on."

Erickson added that he was surprised that in his vast coaching career he has never lost a kicker during the season to injury.


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