A scout team challenge

Washington quarterback Jake Locker is the focal point of any defensive scheme employed by any Huskies' opponent. In preparation for their contest this weekend, the Sun Devils used walk-on defensive back and former City College of San Francisco signal caller Austin Williams to play the part of Locker. How successful was he?

"We're trying to come as close as we can to be like Locker," said Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "But that's one thing that will never happen."

Erickson said that the speed Jake Locker possess is probably the most difficult element to replicate on the scout team and prepare for, despite the fact that the designed plays for him to run are not as prevalent as in years past.

"They run read option, that's still part of their offense," Erickson stated. "They run bootlegs and get him on the corner, but they just don't it as much as they have."

Respect the run

Earlier in the season Sun Devil opponents have mostly played cover-two defenses designed to slow down The ASU's passing game without fearing the danger of an effective ground attack. With the maroon and gold's recent improved rushing attack, Erickson noted that he's seeing defenses paying more attention to the run and expects Washington to employ the same scheme.

"We get a variety of different (defenses)," Erickson commented. "We're starting to see people come down now and play the run a little bit more. When we see three-deep we obviously throw the football a little better, but we've been seeing a lot of (cover) two. We saw two against Washington State.

"We'll see both (defenses). People are mixing it up pretty well and that's what everybody does on defense. These guys (Washington) are a little different. They play the ‘Bear' Buddy Ryan (defense) and that's a run defense. So we'll see guys down there (near the line of scrimmage)."

Starting tailback Dimitri Nance has naturally been largely responsible for the recent emergence of ASU's running game. After collecting just 410 yards in an injury plagued 2008 season, the senior has already tallied 366 yards in just five games.

The Sun Devil skipper credited Nance's improved physical condition and the improvement of the offensive line as the catalysts for the tailback's performance in 2009. "He has had a good year so far," Erickson said. "And we have been able to rest him with a couple of guys too."

Sacking trend to continue?

Up until last weekend, ASU recorded just three sacks in four games. Against Washington State, the flood gates opened and ASU quadrupled that number collecting a dozen sacks against the Cougars. Nonetheless, Erickson tempered any talk about last week's contest being an indication of things to come.

"The reality of it is who did you play?" Erickson said. "12 (sacks) is good against anybody, that's almost unheard of. But our guys like the idea of being able to get there. People will start bringing six or seven guys in (on the line of scrimmage), which Washington State did in the second half and slowed us down a little bit."

Freshmen fairing well

True freshmen defensive tackles Corey Adams and Will Sutton have been logging in considerable time this season and have 11 total tackles between them.

"They're playing good for freshmen," Erickson noted. "They're not dominating guys by any means, but they come in and play 20, 25 snaps a game out of 65 (snaps) and they play well. They hold their own which is all you can ask. It gives us depth and gives those other guys rest."

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