Erickson confident in team's resiliency

In his weekly press conference Coach Erickson reviewed the loss to Stanford and talked about the upcoming game against Cal...

Another disappointing loss occurred when most thought that Arizona State would carry over the momentum from last week's defeat over the Washington Huskies. Saturday, the Sun Devils suffered their third loss of the season to the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto. Coach Dennis Erickson and his squad could not catch a break as the Cardinal offense dominated a typically indestructible Arizona State defense.

"What happened to us the other night was we got behind because of plays that they made," Coach Erickson said. "They were able to just run it and run it and they got some play action pass on us that created some problems but you have to be able to stop the run, if you can stop the run then they're not able to do all that other stuff."

With five games left in the regular season, there is still time for the group to redeem themselves. This year's Pac-10 has been full of unexpected outcomes and has been no different for the Sun Devils. Coach Erickson feels that the humbling loss to Stanford can be used as a beneficial lesson for his players.

"You have to learn to come out and play hard and come out and play hard at the beginning and play all the time because if you don't you can get humbled, which we were," Erickson said. "I give Stanford credit, they came out and we knew what kind of a football team they were, they were a physical football team, a football team that set the tempo at home and they set it from the start until the end.

"I don't know if there is anyone in our league right now that that hasn't happened to, if you can name one let me know because I don't think there is. Unfortunately that happened to us and hopefully we can rebound from it."

Late in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Danny Sullivan left the game due to a minor knee injury. Sullivan did not return to the game, yet will practice this week to prepare for the upcoming matchup against the California Golden Bears.

"He had a mild knee sprain and I think he will probably practice tomorrow, I don't know if he will be full speed or not but there is no problem," Erickson said regarding his quarterback. "As far as the game is concerned, the biggest concern would probably be Thomas Altieri, who has an MCL and I would say he is very questionable to play. Kyle Williams, I'm not exactly sure where he is at. I think he is better than where he was, or he is better than he was a week ago. Whether he will be able to practice this week, I don't know. As far as any other new injures, I think that is pretty much where we're at."

Running back, Ryan Bass appeared against Stanford, and was possibly one of the most effective members of Erickson offensive group.

"I thought he looked awfully good," Erickson noted. "In the games that he was played any amount of time, Oregon State and the Stanford game, he showed some quickness and some running ability and I thought he protected well so again, with those three backs we can alternate them in there and I feel pretty good about it. Ryan is getting better. There are a lot of things you have to learn as a back, there is protection, there are a lot of different things and he's getting a lot better at it. But he does have that burst that gives us a little different look."

On Halloween day the Sun Devils will face the California Golden Bears. Coach Erickson will again prepare his team for a strong running game, with Cal's two running backs presenting a threat. Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen will challenge the Sun Devil defense, as much, if not more than Stanford's Toby Gerhart.

"Those two guys are extremely good players, Best might be the best in the country, at one time he was right up there with the Heisman trophy and he hasn't changed," Coach Erickson stated. "They happened to lose a couple of games but the thing he does, as you watch him on tape, he made a run against UCLA that is as good as I've ever seen, I think he took it eighty yards or something like that. Once he gets in the secondary, he is a world class sprinter but he is a football player.

"The difference between him and Gerhart for example is that he can take it to the house about anytime and Gerhart was just a blue collar guy that just ran right over the top of you all the time but this guy, once he gets in that secondary, if you don't tackle him right he can make the big play and that's how they get a lot of their yardage and big plays with the running game."

Offensively, Danny Sullivan and his unit will prepare to face an experienced and physical California defense.

"They play the three-four which is different than most people, not as different now as it was ten years ago or five years ago," Erickson said. "They have a lot of experience coming back; their secondary is all coming back from a year ago. They're physical, they've done a great job of recruiting at Cal the last six or seven years, since Jeff Tedford has been there, they've got some really good football players."

As a whole, the Sun Devils will have to be ready for the grind that the rest of the season will hold. Five games remaining on their schedule with each game being a true challenge, Coach Erickson believes it will be a test of his teams resiliency.

"We've got five games left, starting with this one," Coach Erickson commented. "I've said this is a very resilient group and we'll see just how resilient this week because to me California is a good a team as there is in our league and regardless of what has happened, talent wise, they have a lot of talent."

We have an opportunity to go out and play and play at home and reprove ourselves, that's how this league is and we're not the only one that has suffered some kind of setback like this in our league, there are other teams that have had that happen to them. How you react to the setback is the key, not the setback itself, learn from it, and react to it."


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