Anxious for season's start

Another practice session for the Sun Devils has come and gone and with the season opener against Portland State approaching, head coach Dennis Erickson is anxious to see how the progress his team has made translates on game day.

"Progress is progress, we're getting better all the time," Erickson said. "We won't know until next Saturday but we've made a lot of improvement on both sides of the football and I see us getting better all the time.

"Again, we're to the point, I say this every year, you can go so far until you play a football game and obviously for a lot of us in college football right now its been a long time so we're looking forward to playing next week. Now, we've got tomorrow and Friday to get things done then we'll start preparation for Portland State on Sunday."

The depth of the offensive line for the maroon and gold has only increased in strength throughout fall camp, especially with the recent addition of offensive tackle, Aderious Simmons. Erickson commented on the strategic shuffle of offensive lineman, including moving Evan Finkenberg to guard.

"Yeah, we're moving about eight or nine of them around with that first group," Erickson noted. "We really feel how they've come along, we've got some depth now and with Aderious it really makes a big difference. There are probably eight or nine guys that we're shifting around, doing different things with.

"(Andrew) Sampson is back playing center now, we played Fink at guard, we'll play Aderious at right tackle some, so there's eight or nine we feel pretty good about which obviously will develop some depth for us as we get into the season because you know how that is, you can lose them pretty fast."

Simmons, a junior college transfer joined the Sun Devils last week and although there is much to learn for the redshirt junior, Erickson believes he will be a valuable asset to the team. Currently taking second team reps at left tackle, Simmons has much to learn before game day, but the 6'7, 310-pound lineman has the physical build to be an impact lineman for the maroon and gold.

"I think he's got a chance to be pretty special," Erickson admitted. "But, again he's inexperienced, he hasn't played football much. Physically he's got a lot of talent, he stepped back a little bit today but he's got so much to learn in such a short period of time."

With a few days, Monday to be specific, before Erickson plans to announce which quarterback will be awarded the starting job, the opportunities for sophomore Brock Osweiler and junior Steven Threet to showcase their talents, are quickly coming to an end.

"Good and bad," Erickson said of the QB's performance today. "They weren't as good today as they were yesterday. That's how it is; we're just looking for some consistency. They've been pretty good all camp, so again we're going to look at them tomorrow and Friday and make a decision on Monday on who we're going to start which doesn't necessarily mean that is how its going to be all year either."

Freshman Kyle Middlebrooks has proven to be quite a versatile player in the Sun Devil offense. Joining a talented group of wide receivers, Middlebrooks has found his place with the maroon and gold and making progress at learning a position he has little experience with.

"He's doing really well," Erickson stated. "We're playing him in the slot most of the time, he could go back and play running back, he's pretty good back there which is something that we'll probably end up doing as we go into the year.

"His processing and insight…he's played slot some, but he's played running back more than anything. He's picking things up well and we're trying to pick our spots for him which we will do during the first couple games."

The maroon and gold voted earlier this week for which four teammates would represent the Sun Devils as team captains. Omar Bolden, Gerald Munns, Thomas Weber and an injured Jon Hargis were voted by their teammates as the 2010 captains.

Hargis was sidelined by a severe knee injury during spring ball and it was uncertain whether or not the senior would be able to return to the field for his final season as a Sun Devil. His hard work and determination rehabbing from a torn ACL has clearly earned the offensive lineman the upmost respect from his teammates.

"It just goes to show how much respect that our players have for what he went through this spring," Erickson commented, "and how hard he's fought to come back to have the opportunity to play.

"I know that was pretty plain and that's how the voting went too. Whether he plays a down this fall or whether he doesn't, he's obviously a leader on his football team. He's been here five years and he is what the program is all about so it was great to see that vote."

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