|No. 15 Sun Devils prepare for UNLV|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 08 September 2008 12:49|
The 15th-ranked Sun Devils (2-0) face No. 2 Georgia on Sept. 20 in one of their more eagerly anticipated games in recent memory. But first ASU has to take care of lightly regarded UNLV on Saturday night.
``Our players know the schedule,'' coach Dennis Erickson said Monday at his weekly campus news conference. ``But they're also very focused on what they need to get done.''
ASU's students aren't quite that focused. They were already looking ahead during ASU's 41-17 victory over Stanford on Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium, brandishing ``Bring on Georgia'' placards supplied by a fast food chain.
The stakes will be enormous in that nationally televised game; with a victory, Arizona State would insert itself into the hunt for the first national title in school history.
ating the Rebels (1-1), who are coming off a three-touchdown loss to Mountain West Conference rival Utah in Salt Lake City. UNLV's victory came by 10 points against Utah State in Las Vegas.
Aside from the University of Arizona, UNLV is the closest major-college football program to Arizona State at 302 miles. Despite their proximity, the schools have never met.
The Sun Devils have breezed to expected victories over Northern Arizona and Stanford, and they'll be heavily favored to make it three in a row over UNLV. But Erickson said he sees plenty of room for improvement.
One glaring area is ASU's attack deep in opposition territory. ASU failed to gain a yard on its first seven snaps inside Stanford's 5-yard line, twice settling for field goals.
``We've just got a lot of work to do,'' Erickson said. ``We're not near where we need to be to compete in our league. I just don't think we're there yet or close to it.''
The Sun Devils have remained relatively healthy through two games. Their most troubling injury concern is senior tailback Keegan Herring, who re-injured his hamstring against Stanford and may not play against UNLV.
``It'll be a day-to-day thing with him,'' Erickson said.
The Sun Devils won't need the speedy senior against the Rebels. But he could play a critical role against Georgia, because he gives Arizona State's running game another dimension.
Starting tailback Dimitri Nance is a plodder who averages 3.6 yards per carry. Herring brings breakaway potential.
On Saturday night, Herring bolted for 20 yards on his first carry of the season. He gained only 40 yards on his next 11 carries, though he did score a touchdown.
``Keegan's a change-of-pace back for us,'' quarterback Rudy Carpenter said. ``Dimitri's kind of going to just pound it and get a couple yards every play. With Keegan, it's going to be a big play or probably not a whole lot. He just has different type of speed than the other backs that we have.
``We need to make sure he's healthy and ready to go,'' Carpenter said.
Linebacker Gerald Munns will have a pin inserted in his broken pinkie on Tuesday, Erickson said, but he's expected to be available for the Georgia game.
``He'll have a cast on it,'' Erickson said. ``I doubt that he'll play Saturday, but he'll play the next week is what I've been told by the doctors.''
On Monday, Munns was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Stanford. He intercepted a pass and had a team-high seven tackles, including one for a loss.