On the offensive

Ultimately, the defensive domination shown in ASU's spring practices could only last so long. On Wednesday it was the maroon jersey players who outperformed their counterparts. Coincidentally this session also saw Brock Osweiler, perhaps for the first time this spring, gaining a clear advantage in the quarterback competition over Steven Threet.

"That was the best day that they've had since we practiced," said Head Coach Dennis Erickson about the ASU offense. "Hopefully it's because we're executing better. Football is football. Sometimes you don't come out defensively like you do which normally means that tomorrow or Saturday will be a different story. That's just the nature of the game. We're executing better, throwing the ball better, our assignments are better.

"But I think we're throwing it and catching it and protecting and getting the ball down the field vertically more than we have since I've been here which is part of the reason I hired (offensive coordinator Noel) Mazzone. I liked what I saw today and we've just got to continue to get better and better. Because there are times against our defense where you wonder what the hell you did would make any difference."

There was promise surrounding ASU's new offensive scheme this season, which features a no-huddle, up tempo, quick strike system. To see it all come together, like it did on Wednesday, is clearly very encouraging for Erickson.

"It's really exciting for me because that's what I like to do, spread them out and let her go," Erickson explained. "We're able to do that because I've got a guy who can lead us on offense as a coach, call plays and script and do all those things. He knows what he wants, which is basically what I want, but I don't have to do it.

"It makes a big difference. I'm excited about seeing where we're at with some our skilled guys and getting them involved."

Quarterback Brock Osweiler agreed that the off-season work spent learning the Mazzone offense was never manifested as strongly as it was in the team's latest spring session.

"All of us put so much work in," Osweiler remarked, "and today we got a little taste of how this offense can really be. We just have to continue to work harder and always improve."

The sophomore said that continuously observing game film on San Diego Chargers' signal caller Philip Rivers, who spent his senior year at North Carolina State under the tutelage of Mazzone, has helped him improved some of his skills, like teaching himself how to get the ball out faster.

"That's been my model guy," admitted Osweiler. "I watched film on him all winter. That's what makes that offense run – quick throws. I don't think there was a day from January 1st until the start of spring ball, that I didn't watch something on Philip. He's a pretty good guy to learn from."

Osweiler hailed the performance of the wide receivers and their new coach Steve Broussard ("we all call him Bruiser"), as well as the offensive line and running backs. The collective effort has naturally made Wednesday's session a very enjoyable one.

"Today was a lot of fun," Osweiler said. "Today was really the first day that we really had the defense, since I've been here, on their heels a little bit. Even with that good defensive line, they were breaking through once in a while, we would step over; make the throw, first down. It was really a great feeling today and we just have to build upon it.

"This is our sixth practice in the system. So we are definitely getting more familiar with it. But also just getting used to the speed of the game again and timing out the new routes with the wide receivers. The biggest thing is that we are all getting on the same page. We are all in the film room every single night, morning, afternoon…we are really trying to get this thing turned around."

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