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August 17, 2009

Sun Devils bounce back in afternoon session

Monday afternoon's practice session wasn't anything special, but at least there wasn't any post-practice yelling from coach.

The Arizona State football team received a tongue-lashing from coach Dennis Erickson after a subpar morning performance, but looked sharper in the bubble during the afternoon.

"Guys were moving around a little bit better," Erickson said. "The execution was a lot better on both sides, there was a little bit more of a sense of urgency."

The afternoon practice featured familiar storylines.

Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Guy toyed with the offensive line during one-on-one drills. Freshman defensive tackle William Sutton looked too quick for anyone to guard. Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan kept his consistent, accurate play going. Dexter was Dexter.

However, some new elements were also introduced to the team. With a month-long training camp, Erickson and his staff have had plenty of time to introduce new schemes.

"[We've] got so much time [to practice] before the first game," Erickson said. "Because we start school so early, we started [practicing] earlier than anybody
in the country, probably, that plays on [Sept.] 5th. It's the longest time I've ever had before the first game … We've put quite a few things in, but really more than anything, we've kind of slowed it down a little bit. We're starting to add stuff all the time on both sides of the football."

Monday, Erickson put in new blitzes and added wrinkles to the running the game. During the 11-on-11 portion of practice, the offense frequently pitched the ball to the running backs, with limited success.

That's because the defensive line usually owned the line of scrimmage.

The defensive line suffered another quick scare when Guy limped off the field with an apparent left knee injury. He tested out his leg and stretched it out a bit before returning to action a few plays later.

Senior defensive tackle Saia Falahola, however, was held out with his injured left knee. Sutton didn't miss a beat with the No. 1s and was as effective as ever. When asked if Sutton had played himself into the starting lineup, Erickson was non-committal.

"I don't know," Erickson said. "We've got three weeks to judge that. Saia has had a good camp too, he just got hurt. I'm sure he'll heal up a little faster."

Either way, it sounds like Erickson will be happy with his starting defensive line unit. Dexter Davis has seen a lot in his four years at ASU, but said this is probably the deepest unit he's been a part of. Much of that has to do with the Guy's improvement and Sutton's emergence.

"[Sutton]'s done a great job so far," Davis said. "I'm really surprised that he's been able to come in and have the impact that he's had. He's only 17-years old, so he's got plenty of time to mature and develop. But right now he's looking great and if he continues to improve he can be a big-time player for us up front."

As for Davis himself, he's still as consistent as ever. He also gets to practice against senior Shawn Lauvao day in and day out.

"It's definitely great to have someone like that to really push me," Davis said. "He's one of the top guys in the Pac-10 if not the country. He changed positions in the spring and he's really continued to improve his technique and everything. He's really getting me better out here."

Monday afternoon, Lauvao was joined by redshirt freshman Andrew Sampson on the No. 1 offensive line. Sampson filled in at right guard, as sophomores Garth Gerhart (turf toe) and Zach Schlink (knee) were held out.


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