The wait for opener is coming to an end

After nearly a month of practices the Sun Devils wrapped up their last pre-season session on Thursday afternoon culminating their preparations for their home game against Portland State.

"Just like I told (the team) we have been waiting for a long time," said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. "Ever since the Arizona game we have made a commitment to get this program going in the right direction and all the talk is done. Now we have to go out and play every week.

"They can't wait and they are excited to go out and play. I know that much."

*** Four true freshmen will be donning the maroon and gold for the very first time. The Sun Devils' skipper advice to those players is simple.

"Play like you did in high school," Erickson stated. "Play like you played in the back yard. Just play and don't worry about anything other than that. Be an athlete and play football."

One of the true freshmen who will suit up this weekend is 5-11 defensive end Nduka Onyeali. His relative diminutive stature has not stopped him from being of the brightest spots on defense and Erickson admitted that he couldn't remember ever coaching a player in his college career that was that short playing that position.

"I will have to go back to the archives on that one," Erickson quipped, "go through all the boxes in my house. I think I did (coach) one in Billings Central (High School)."

Kyle Middlebrooks is even smaller at 5-7, but as a jack of all trades on offense his size and speed serves him well.

"We'll play him both at slot receiver and also put him in the backfield – we started to do a little of that this week," Erickson noted. "When he first came, as a running back, we wanted to get him used to doing the other stuff and then put him back there because he's used to it.

"He gives you another burst that is different than what we had. It will be interesting see him play in different areas."

*** With ASU speeding up its offensive scheme from last year the difference on this side of the ball shouldn't be hard to spot starting this week. Albeit just in shorts and helmets today the ASU offense was still keeping the pace of their plays quite high.

"We ran 65 plays in about 40 minutes," Erickson said of today's session. "That's what we want to do. We would like to snap the ball with 15 seconds left (on the play clock). We can slow it anytime we want, but everything we have been doing has been real fast."

*** The Sun Devil nation is obviously expecting the 2009 Pac-10's leading defense to dictate their will over an FCS opponent this Saturday and Erickson couldn't agree more with that notion.

"We should be a dominant defense and try and go out and dominate this football game," Erickson commented.

*** University of Michigan transfer Steven Threet last started a football game in 2008, and confessed to not remembering much from that contest then versus Purdue. He added that he isn't nervous to take the reins again two years later, this time as a Sun Devil.

"I'm just excited," Threet said. "Football is a game I love. I love to go out there and compete and try and help the team win. Every time you play on Saturday you get excited."

So no nerves whatsoever?

"It's football," Threet remarked. "People go shopping all the time and don't get nervous go shopping. We are out here practicing all the time, we know the plays and we just have to go out there and execute.

*** Threet like the rest of his teammates is anxious to see how the new offense will function, and more importantly see it in action against someone else other than the ASU defense.

"It will be good to finally to go against somebody that doesn't know all our calls," Threet said, "and know what's coming every time. We're excited for the opportunity.

When asked what one aspect of the offense Threet has seen the most improvement in over fall camp, he credited the front five.

"I would probably say the O-Line," Three commented. "They've done an amazing job from winter conditioning, to summer workouts…they really have come together as a unit. We are able to mix in some guys there and get some depth and get a lot of talent on the line.

"That's definitely a big positive."

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