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August 20, 2011

Short, injury free scrimmage for Sun Devils

At this point in Arizona State's camp the ultimate measure of what constitutes a successful scrimmage might just be emerging from it injury free. That appears to have happened Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, even as on field performance was a mixed bag.

ASU coach Dennis Erickson kept the scrimmage short and sweet, which has been the norm rather than the exception in practice since linebacker Brandon Magee ruptured an Achilles heel last Saturday.

The first-team got three series to show what it could do -- one more than Erickson predicted a day earlier -- and junior quarterback Brock Osweiler put forth a workmanlike 10 of 15 for 137 yards and a touchdown, missing on just two of his throws and not making any clear mental mistakes.

Passes were spread out very evenly, with six receivers catching either two or three balls, led by sophomore walk-on Kevin Ozier, who had a touchdown and two catches for 60 yards. Senior Mike Willie had two catches for 56 yards and senior George Bell had two for 22 yards with one touchdown.

While the passing game was efficient, including redshirt freshman Taylor Kelly completing 3 of 3 attempts for 71 yards and one touchdown -- in doing so keeping the backup quarterback race with Mike Bercovici alive -- ASU wasn't particularly effective in the red zone and couldn't get much going in the run game sans junior Cameron Marshall, who could return as soon as Monday. The team totaled 43 yards on 26 carries, led by walk on R.J. Robinson's 20 yards on five carries with the deep reserves.

"I don't know that if you can get a (real) assessment of yourself until you play a game," Erickson said. 'We'll know more after we play Cal Davis. But if we want to compete for a (Pac-12) South championship, we better be better than we were today in a lot of areas."

What really left Erickson frustrated was special teams play, particularly the first field goal attempt of the day being blocked by junior Vontaze Burfict, who got easy penetration up the middle.

"I'm sick and tired of seeing field goals blocked," Erickson said, echoing a similar statement he made to his team in the Dickey Dome following an almost identical block by Burfict a week ago. "How many games are we going to have to lose to figure that out? That's diappointing."

Redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte connected on just 2 of 5 field goal attempts. In addition to the block he missed from 42 yard and 52 yards, the latter being an issue with either the snap or hold. Junior punter Josh Hubner appeared to struggle with his hang time and distance, with a punt average in the 35 yard range.

Defensively, ASU ran well to the football and kept lanes from being opened on the inside. Occasionally there was good pressure on passing downs, with sophomore William Sutton, senior Bo Moos and sophomore Junior Onyeali credited with a sack apiece. Sophomore Davon Coleman also could have been credited with a sack. All of this came without ASU's defense showing much in the way of zone pressures.



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