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October 1, 2009

Receivers looking to respond in Pac-10 opener

Junior wide receiver Kerry Taylor's first dropped pass of the season came at an inopportune time, on second down with Arizona State and Georgia tied at 17-17 in the middle of the fourth quarter, just inside Bulldog Territory.

Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson demonstrated his faith in Taylor and the rest of the wide receiver group by calling for the same play on third down, only to see senior receiver Kyle Williams drop a ball thrown slightly behind him by senior quarterback Danny Sullivan.

Either catch would have given the Sun Devils a first-down and kept a drive alive that ultimately could have led to a go-ahead score, but it wasn't meant to be and the visitors couldn't pull out a win in Athens, Ga.

"The first one the defense jumped Kyle and I was wide open and the second one they jumped me and Kyle was open," Taylor said. "We need to make those plays that can extend a ball game. We didn't make the plays and it's over and done with and we can't change it now but next week we have to make the plays."

Erickson said Monday that Georgia made a key late catch and the Sun Devils didn't and it ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. For a wide receiver corps that was initially thought to be the strength of the offense, it's a difficult thing to hear, particularly after the group also struggled with dropped passes in the season opener.

"We are doing OK," Taylor said. "We have a lot of improvement we need to work on. As an offense we need to make more plays. The plays are there we just have to make it [happen] and produce more points."

The offense will get its opportunity in the Pac-10 opener Saturday against an Oregon State defense that is allowing 272 passing yards per game.

"We know their secondary is young," Taylor said. "We have to go in there and take advantage of it. Last week Georgia's secondary was young and we really didn't take advantage of it the way we should have. Hopefully we learned from last week and come out this week and show what we are capable of doing against a young secondary. Hopefully we are ready to make big plays and big plays happen so we can put up a lot points."

With Williams suffering a right hamstring injury in practice Wednesday, Taylor's role could be even more important. The same could be said for senior Chris McGaha, who moved to the slot position when Williams went down, and sophomore Gerell Robinson, who also worked with the first-team after Williams' practice day was over.

No matter which receiver Sullivan targets against the Beavers, he'll need to have enough time to deliver the football, and that may not be as easy as it was at Georgia, when ASU only gave up one sack, due to injuries that have decimated the offensive line.

In Wednesday's workout, redshirt freshman Andrew Sampson did not practice due to a headache, instead joining Mike Marcisz (shoulder), Matt Hustad (knee) and Zach Schlink (knee) on the sidelines.

The injured players are all guards, leaving few able bodied interior linemen with which to practice. Senior Brent Good, a former walk-on and sophomore Adam Tello were with the first-team at left and right guard respectively Wednesday. Tello had been on the scout team until Tuesday's practice.

ASU's injuries are not contained to the offensive line, however. Senior Ryan McFoy did not practice Tuesday and was limited Wednesday with a foot sprain, and sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Guy ended his Wednesday session early due to an issue with his right shoulder, which he hurt while in a 1-on-1 rep toward the end of practice.


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