Mixed results for offense in first scrimmage

To end the first week of spring practice, Dennis Erickson and his team showcased the week's progress in a 65-play scrimmage. Defensively, the maroon and gold resemble the powerful group of the 2009 season.

"It was about what I expected," Erickson said about his team's performance. "Defensively as we know, we're awfully good. We've got depth and fly around. I thought we tackled extremely well. Then on the other side of the ball, I expected that too. It's the first time we've done that kind of thing so it's really going to be a good learning process for us on the tape, particularly offensively."

The quarterback competition continues between sophomore Brock Osweiler and redshirt junior Steven Threet. Both produced fairly even numbers today finding much more success on the shorter routes than the longer ones.

Osweiler, who started the scrimmage, was 9 of 14 for 119 yards. He registered a 70- yard touchdown pass down the middle to Jarrid Bryant (his only catch of the scrimmage), and had one interception that was returned 45 yards by safety Keelan Johnson for a score. Threet connected with George Bell down the sidelines for a 29 –yard touchdown, and was overall 17 of 25 for 138 yards.

Following today's performance Erickson is still searching for the standout at quarterback.

"I have to look at (the scrimmage tape)," Erickson said. "I thought they did some good things, I thought they threw the ball pretty well. I thought they made some mistakes too. I just have to sit down and look at the tape before I can really evaluate. They both had their moments. We completed more balls for touchdowns than we have in a long time, so it's good to see that."

With the tight of competition at quarterback both signal callers are getting an equal number of reps during practices, and working with the first and second stringers.

"I kind of look at it as something that is out of my control," Threet said. "They tell me when I'm in and when I'm in I just try to do the best that I can and try to run the offense well. With first team or second team, every time you're out there is an opportunity so I just have to roll with it."

It is no secret that the Sun Devils have taken much criticism for their offensive performance last season, and after today are proving they still have a lot of work to do. Specifically during the running plays, the squad struggled to move the football.

Running back Cameron Marshall was held out with a hamstring injury, but as it is the Arizona State ball carriers didn't find much daylight against a front seven which was aggressive and quick to the ball and exhibited sure tackling all morning. James Morrison paced the linebackers with 20 yards on six carries.

"Those are things we just have to get solved," Erickson commented. "I wasn't expecting much offensively other than to get a look at it and see where we're. My expectations weren't very high but I thought there were some very good things.

"We've got to run the ball better and we have to look and see why that's happening. In what we do, you have to slit your front and our front guys aren't used to taking those big slits and I think we got a little tight, it looked like to me."

The ASU defense made its mark against the wide receivers as well, causing two fumbles after Bell (forced fumble by Vontaze Burfict) and tight end Christopher Coyle (forced fumble by LeQuan Lewis) caught passes. Kerry Taylor had perhaps his best practice this spring hauling his three catches for 64 yards and Bell had four catches for 43 yards. Overall the wideouts didn't have much room to pile on yards after the catch and just like the running backs were really affected by the speed of the defense.

Safeties Keelan Johnson and Eddie Elder had four tackles each to lead the defense. Defensive end Greg Smith had two tackles for a loss.

Zach Schlink missed a good portion of last season a knee injury. In the spring he has been starting at right guard and Erickson is happy to see one of his essential offensive linemen back in action.

"Actually pretty good," Erickson said of Schlink's performance. "He's moving better than he has. He's still not there. He has lost a lot of weight; he just hasn't done it for a while. Obviously when you don't have a lot of confidence in those knees it's hard, but as soon as he starts getting confidence he'll get better and better all the time. For him to come back will be a heck of a thing for him."

Thomas Weber connected on a 42-yard field goal, his only attempt during the scrimmage.

The Sun Devils return to practice on Tuesday at 4:00.


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