Optimism high after day one of camp

The first fall practice gave those looking on a lot to look forward to this season. There were the newcomers making their first impressions, returning players fighting for spots on the depth chart, and some pleasant surprises on the injury front.

Oh yeah, and there was the whole quarterback competition too.

"It's always (spirited) the first day," Coach Dennis Erickson said. "There's a lot of enthusiasm and the practice is really high speed as you can see out there, and it has been all spring and will continue to be. We've just got to keep that going all the time.

"You're going to have your dog days, there's no question about that, but the biggest thing that we have to do is just get better everyday, and that's our focus. Hopefully by the time we play our first game we can compete.

"We have a lot of things to learn offensively and we've got some new guys that are gonna be involved in some different areas. So it's going to be a learning process for the next three weeks, but that's why we have three weeks."

Steven Threet worked with the first-team today with Brock Osweiler getting second-team reps, and Samson Szakacsy even saw a little action, and looked to be throwing the ball pretty well coming off the elbow injury. Though Szakacsy seems to be a long shot to start, his skills present the offense with a lot of options when he's in the game.

"We're just alternating with the three of them," Erickson pointed out. "Steven had the ones today, Brock will have them tomorrow. We're just going to try to work things out the next two weeks; see who steps up.

"It's good to see Samson back in there and throwing the ball, he's a little bit behind as far as what we're doing offensively but he's athletic as we all know and his arm seems to be better. Nothing is decided right now, so we'll see what happens.

"It would be easy to say that Brock is big and tall, and he's very athletic for his size and has a good feel for what's going on. Steven on the other hand has got the experience that he got in Michigan. Sam can run, he gives you a little bit more of that dimension, which could mean that we'll play him regardless of who the starter is in some aspect of what we're doing offensively. He's kind of the wild card as far as we're concerned.

"We'll see who improves and to me in our offense and what we're trying to do right now it's about accuracy, completing passes because some of the throws are about decision making and getting rid of the football so whoever picks that up and does that will be the starter."

Helping out the all three quarterbacks is a deep group of receivers who return key players Kerry Taylor, Gerell Robinson, and Jamal Miles, but with Aaron Pflugrad, J.J. Holliday, George Bell, Mike Willie, and Brandon Smith coming back from his injury, the abundance of new faces should make the competition here a fierce one.

Another noticeable difference in the offense aside from the tempo was the amount of communication going on pre-snap between the guys on the offensive side of the ball.

"This offense is total communication with everybody at the line of scrimmage, more so than anything," Erickson stated. "It's not like audibleizing at the line of scrimmage to get out of a bad play. Everything that is called is called at the line of scrimmage.

"There's much more communication between the players at the line of scrimmage than any offense I've been around and there's a lot of signaling so there's a lot of things that need to be done. Today for example we had some issues with our new guys just seeing the signals from our quarterbacks and as much as we signal that's just something we have to get better and better at."

There were some surprises on the day, one of which was pre-season All-American Vontaze Burfict working with the second team defense with Gerald Munns working the first team, and although Erickson said Munns has earned it, he also said how it could change tomorrow.

There has been some speculation that JC transfer Brice Schwab may move inside to guard, but he spent the whole day working at right tackle, and Erickson quickly squashed the notion of a possible position move.

"He's our right tackle right now," Erickson asserted. "If somebody got hurt or we need to make some moves than we could always move him inside, but he's our right tackle, Finkenberg is our left tackle, and Knapp is playing some left tackle and that's the way it's going to be. Erickson asserted.

"I don't want to play (Schwab) in too many spots just because of the learning curve that's involved." Erickson asserted.

But the biggest surprise of all at the offensive line was Jon Hargis doing some work with his teammates. Though he wasn't wearing a helmet or jersey the fact that he was even out there was a huge shock considering there was a chance he wouldn't play at all this season.

"It's amazing what that guy has accomplished," Erickson expressed. "I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but he was gonna be lucky to play, and then he'll play in November, and now he may end up playing the last 6-7 games of the season and there's a chance that could happen.

"That just goes to show you what mental toughness and doing what you have to do to get ready is all about. He wants to play so bad, I mean when I got back it was unbelievable; the progress that he made was great."


Sun Devil Source Top Stories