Erickson names Szakacsy starter for UCLA game

Sophomore Samson Szakacsy, who showed well in relief last week at Oregon, was officially named the starting signal caller by Head Coach Dennis Erickson following Thursday's practice.

"He had had a good week of practice," Erickson said of his new starter. "He has done a good job with that first group. I like what I've seen so we'll let him go and see what happens."

Erickson added that Samson Szakacsy's elbow, which has been bothering the quarterback on and off ever since he underwent surgery two years ago, was pain free following his most extensive playing time of the year.

"I don't think it's 100%, his strength of his arm," Erickson stated. "But there's isn't any pain in there. It's not quite what it was in the spring, but it's pretty close. I think the healing part of it is pretty much over with. He had some treatments and I think they know how to handle it right now. It will get stronger and stronger as time goes on."

The Sun Devil skipper added that he felt that Szakacsy played well enough in the spring to come close to unseating then starter Danny Sullivan.

"He really didn't have a chance to do anything until his arm was healthy enough to do it," Erickson explained. "In that way it's an opportunity for him at full strength compared to half strength. He knows what we're doing and we are anxious to see what he can do."

Erickson commented that the playbook won't be altered dramatically one way or another now that Szakacsy is the starter. Even with his strong mobility, Erickson said that Szakacsy's strongest trait has to be used wisely throughout the game.

"I think mobility has an influence on what you do offensively," Erickson acknowledged. "It depends if you use it the correct way. You can't run out of the pocket every time there is a rush. But being able to give you a second chance is what this is all about."

Wide receiver Kyle Williams knows all about that attribute of Szakacsy, as he was the beneficiary of the quarterback's scramble out of the pocket and a 15-yard throw on a run for a score.

"If something breaks down he can extend plays for us," Williams explained. "He's getting the ball out quick and he's impressed a lot of us in practice this week. He's like a receiver back there playing quarterback and he has an unbelievable arm and unbelievable anticipation. It showed on that touchdown. He's one of the fastest guys on the team.

"That will help the offense greatly. I think that's something we have been missing."

Szakacsy is widely known for his loose and easy going attitude, and just like his elusiveness, that quality has been serving the team well according to the wide receiver.

"When we were down 31-7 (at Oregon), and he came in," Williams recalled, "he said ‘we have nothing to lose. Let's go out there and have fun." He's the perfect guy for that. He gets out there and it's like backyard football all over again. That's the best part of it."

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