Sloppy Sun Devils looking to improve against San Diego State Print
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007 02:37
NCAAF Headline News

 TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson might be the unhappiest 2-0 coach in the country.
While he's pleased that the Sun Devils have devoured two overmatched opponents, Erickson came out of the first two weeks with a couple of nagging concerns, both of which could be trouble as the Sun Devils' schedule improves.
The most pressing problem is penalties. ASU was flagged 12 times for 136 yards in a 33-14 victory over Colorado on Saturday night, including eight personal fouls.
``That's taken care of,'' Erickson said Monday at his weekly campus news conference. ``That's not an issue anymore.''
Erickson said he addressed the penalties during a team meeting Sunday. The bottom line: players who commit foolish fouls will earn a spot on the sideline, starting with Saturday night's game against San Diego State in Sun Devil Stadium.
``As I told the team, 'If you do it, you're not playing,''' Erickson said. ``'So if you want to play, that's fine. If you don't, stand next to me and earn your letter.' It doesn't make any difference to me.''
Erickson didn't impose that rule Saturday night.
Wide receiver Tyrice Thompson was called for a personal foul on a kickoff in the first quarter. Two series later, he was the intended receiver on an incomplete pass, and he finished the game with two receptions and also played on special teams.
Likewise, punter Jonathan Johnson drew a personal foul in the first quarter but punted seven more times.
Undisciplined play isn't new for an Erickson-coached team. In his last four games as a college coach in Sun Devil Stadium, Erickson's teams have been flagged 45 times for 449 yards. Oregon State set a school record with 18 penalties for 174 yards in a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 1, 2001.
Erickson said the Sun Devils' recent penalty problems aren't chronic.
``The penalties that we had are very solvable,'' Erickson said. ``Believe me, we're going to have some and we're still going to be aggressive.''
Another problem Saturday night was an anemic running game. Tailback Ryan Torain hurt his ankle - it's not known whether he'll play against San Diego State - and the Sun Devils managed only 138 rushing yards, 250 fewer than they gained against San Jose State.
``It wasn't our best outing with our offensive line,'' Erickson said.
Aside from the penalties and the running game, Erickson found some positives as he reviewed game film. He was pleased to see his team overcome an early 14-point deficit - a deficit entirely of its own making.
Colorado jumped ahead 7-0 in the opening minute when ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter hit Buffaloes cornerback Terrence Wheatley in the chest with a throw, and Wheatley returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Another ASU blunder set up Colorado's second touchdown. Arizona State had forced the Buffaloes to go for a field goal at the Sun Devils' 15-yard line, but linebacker Morris Wooten was called for jumping on the center's back, an automatic first down. Three plays later, Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins hit Scotty McKnight for a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Buffaloes ahead 14-0.
The Sun Devils responded quickly, scoring 19 second-quarter points to take a five-point halftime lead.
``It wasn't good early, but I thought that, as the game went on, it's a good situation that we were in, for us to learn,'' Erickson said. ``Having not been down, having won pretty easily against San Jose State, to now all of a sudden be down by 14 and face a lot of adversity, and then to come back and win the game was a real plus for us.''
Erickson also praised his defense, which has allowed one touchdown in the first eight quarters - and it came on a drive that began on ASU's 17-yard line.
The unit has yet to face a Pac-10 quality offense, but it appears to be improved over a year ago, when it allowed 25.1 points per game, seventh in the conference.
``There were some really good things,'' Erickson said. ``I thought defensively we played really well, ran to the football real well, tackled really good. We're getting better.''

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