Victory is a mixed bag of goods for Erickson

Saturday's post-game press conference was as expected light-hearted in nature after ASU's 54-9 drubbing of Portland State University with jokes being cracked and plenty of praise to go around. Nonetheless, head coach Dennis Erickson definitely identified some areas that needed to be cleaned up after Saturday night's win.

Saturday night belonged mostly to the young guns and the newcomers with several big contributions from transfers Steven Threet, Eddie Elder and Aaron Pflugrad, along with big games from freshman running back Deantre Lewis and sophomore Cameron Marshall. But when asked what he could ‘nit-pick' on, Coach Erickson pointed out a few problems that should be easy to smooth out.

"Where do I nit-pick?" Erickson asked with a laugh. "That's an interesting word, I haven't heard that since I talked to my mother.

"If I was going to nit-pick; too many penalties. We had three personal fouls I believe that I would call dumb penalties. Those are controllable by our football team, we had them and it's ridiculous. It could end up costing us in another game and our players are very aware of that.

"Probably early we dropped some balls that we should've caught. Steven threw the ball real well, he had three or four drops early in the first quarter so if there were two things, one would be the ‘nit', and the other would be the ‘pick'."

Joking aside, quarterback Steven Threet who 14 of 21 for 239 yards and two scores made some good plays for the Sun Devil offense that looked faster and much improved from last year's unit.

"He played well," Erickson said. "He had four or five balls dropped. He made great decisions, did things at the line of scrimmage really well, played within himself, but he made some awfully good throws. Got the football out, read things, I thought it was an outstanding performance for the first time out for him."

Speed was the key for the offense tonight, and there is no shortage of it in the backfield or out on the wings.

"No disrespect to anybody, but we had some speed out there that they had a little trouble matching up with," Erickson pointed out, "and we were able to take advantage of that. 54 points is I think the most we've scored since we've been here. The kids have confidence, and the thing about that offense is that you can run the football, and we ran the football extremely well."

Cameron Marshall had a great game getting 104 yards on only four carries, three of which going for touchdowns, but freshman Deantre Lewis stood out with is ability to run after the catch, scoring twice on three catches for 100 yards.

"Obviously Cameron Marshall played extremely well. He gives us a pretty good balance depending on what people do, and the great thing about it is that you can see it and try to take advantage of people in the box, and when you have a chance to be successful running it. Our quarterbacks ran it pretty good when they had the opportunity too.

"That one run he (Lewis) made on the pass, he just has another gear, and he can take it to the house. We had more long plays than we've had in a long time here and he's part of it. Jamal (Miles) can do the same thing, and Cameron is a little faster than people think. You get Kyle (Middlebrooks) involved a little bit more, but he (Lewis) brings something different then what we've had the last couple of years."

Helping pave the way for the running backs was an offensive line that opened holes not seen by ASU backs for a few years.

"It's hard to tell," Erickson stated about how to rank their performance. "I don't think we got sacked did we? We ran the football pretty well, so without looking at the tape I think they played pretty well. We played about ten of them. We played five or six in the first half, then four more the last quarter and a half so they all got a lot of turns, but we've got to get better.

" It is what it is, and what happened tonight was supposed to happen so we just have to get ready and keep getting better because I think we have a chance to be a decent team."

Not to be lost in all of the offensive numbers was a stellar performance by the defense, and safety Eddie Elder who made his Maroon and Gold debut a memorable one. The JC transfer had three total tackles and an interception.

"Eddie was a playmaker in the spring if you remember," Erickson mentioned, "he made a lot of plays in the spring and then he started off a little slow in camp and the last couple weeks has really emerged.

"Obviously we made some plays tonight, but I thought our safeties overall played real well because we've got real speed there, and when you play half the field, play cover-2, we made a lot of plays to the sideline, which is very difficult to do, you have to have closing speed, and it wasn't just Eddie, it was Keelan, it was Clint Floyd, but Eddie had an outstanding game."

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