Erickson, Devils Bounce Back

The Sun Devils have returned from Washington State with their first Pac-10 victory in 2009, as they defeated the Cougars 27-14. It was a game in which ASU figuratively picked themselves off the mat, halting a two-game losing streak, while Coach Erickson literally did the same after accidentally being knocked down by his wide receiver Gerell Robinson and resuming his coaching duties shortly after.

"I was looking down field because we were throwing a route on the other side of the field," Erickson described, "so I was looking to see what was happening with the route and saw a couple guys coming at me and being the great athlete I am I wasn't able to get out of the way."

Recovering quickly from the hit, Erickson and his team were able to come back home with a road win despite turning it over six times. Needless to say that Erickson and his players know that there aren't many more contests this year where they can overcome this large number of miscues.

"That's ridiculous," Erickson commented about the turnovers last Saturday. "Ball security is job security is what we try to tell our players. To have three interceptions, to have a high snap, to fumble it twice, you can't beat anybody doing that. We were fortunate enough that we played so good on defense that every time we turned it over that we got it back or they turned it over, I think they turned it over four times.

"We would not beat any of the opponents we have ahead of us turning it over like that. We haven't been doing that, hopefully it's a learning process like with Gerell; he's just trying to make something happen. He made a great catch and broke a couple tackles but hopefully he learned from that. When you're in shotgun as much as we are, we haven't had bad snaps at all, you just can't do it or you have to move back under center, which is why some people aren't in it. It's inexcusable and hopefully it doesn't happen again because you can't win games like that."

Coach Erickson's defensive group came out to prove themselves after the disheartening performance against Oregon State. This unit dominated the game and consistently put their offense back on the field, enabling the team to prevail.

"Their job on defense is to go out and get the ball back regardless of what is happening on offense," Erickson stated. "Are they frustrated? I mean maybe early in the year but they know what they can do now. They know that in order for us to be successful as a football team, sometimes teams are different every year. Sometimes you're really good on offense and not so good on defense. Sometimes you're really good on defense and not quite as good on offense, and as far as the first five games, that's how it's been. Our defense knows what they've got to do for us to win, so no there isn't any frustration."

Brock Osweiler made his Pac-10 debut against the Cougars and although it wasn't a great showing by the true freshman, the experience will be helpful for the signal caller when he takes the field against Washington this week. The young quarterback played three series early in the contest and did some positive things in his Pac-10 debut and did nothing to diminish his chances of seeing playing time this weekend.

"Brock did a good job," Erickson noted. "Unfortunately, we moved the football down there pretty good and then fumbled, and then the snap went array on him. He missed one throw there on third down that he has a chance on. His presence out there and the things that he did, I think he did a very good job.

"My situation this week is that he will play but I'm not sure when. It's about the feel of the game and how things are going but he will play Saturday."

Starting quarterback, Danny Sullivan, was under pressure this week to redeem himself after his performance against Oregon State. Despite his three interceptions, the senior was able to connect with his receivers and pull off the win.

"He made a couple throws into coverage that he hasn't made," Coach Erickson stated. "One of the interceptions that was a great play by the defensive player but there were a couple that were just thrown into coverage which he hasn't done, he's dumped it off and done things like that.

"In spending time with Danny and Brock yesterday, he understands his mistakes, not that he isn't going to throw another interception the whole year, that's going to happen but I don't think it will be quite like it was Saturday."

Throughout the last few years, the University of Washington has been trying bring back their football team back to one of the league's powerhouses, as they were earlier this decade. Junior quarterback Jake Locker is regarded as probably the best signal caller in the conference and someone that naturally will be a focal point in ASU's defensive preparation.

"He has improved a lot; he is a lot more accurate with his footwork," Erickson said. "Sarkisian has done a good job, the quarterback coach, (Doug) Nussmeier, who played at Idaho, has done a good job of working with him on his fundamentals it looks like to me. His throwing motion is different. Bottom line he is a lot more accurate.

"When you've got a guy that big and a big time arm, but the biggest improvement is how accurate he is when he throws it, he is throwing the deep ball better. He is a way better quarterback then he was two years ago and we didn't see him last year because he was hurt. I think the people in the NFL rate him as one of the top in the country, so that shows you how much he has improved."

This year the Washington squad will test the Sun Devils on their home field. The Huskies, who were winless all of last season, are playing anything but like the squad who had an abysmal 2008 campaign.

"They're playing with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm," Coach Erickson commented. "They believe they can win. Danny Cozzetto has done a nice job with their offensive line, they're really improved. Offensively they've got people to help Jake. Their receivers are playing really well and (Chris) Polk, their running back. It's not just Jake now. They've got some other people but they're playing with a lot of enthusiasm.

"Defensively, Nick Holt and those guys have done a nice job putting their personnel in the right position, that's what I've seen. Not only are they an improved football team, they're a football team that everybody in this league has to deal with. You don't beat SC unless you've done pretty well, you beat Arizona at home. They went back to Notre Dame and they probably should have won that game. If you look at programs that have improved in six months or however long he has been there, you have to look at that as the best in the country.

"They're totally different than the first two years I've been here."


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