November 3, 2008

Erickson pleased with team's recent effort

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson liked the effort and energy his team showed in its 27-25 loss to Oregon State on Saturday.

He was pleased with the fact that the players still gave a good effort despite having not won a game since early September.

But in football, there are no moral victories. Erickson knows that. So while he saw Saturday's game as a step in the right direction, by no means does that mean he was happy with the final result.

"You can't look at it as anything other than a loss, but there were some positives you can take out of that game," Erickson said Monday. "We played with great effort. I like the energy we played with against Oregon State.

"We obviously had chances to win the football game. We're just not making plays when we need to."

And quarterback Rudy Carpenter agreed with his coach.

He liked the effort his teammates gave against the Beavers, but he said the Sun Devils won't be able to relax and get back to having fun on the football field again until they find a way to get back into the win column.

"Coach E, he has been mixing it up for us during the week trying to get us to just relax a little bit and have more fun," Carpenter said. "Obviously though, I don't care what anyone says, it's not fun when you're losing. I think we'll have more fun once we can get winning again."

Red zone woes

The Sun Devils had their chances to beat OSU.

They were able to drive the ball into the Beavers' territory all night, but then ASU's offense seemed to stall.

ASU got the football inside the OSU 30-yard line on six occasions but was forced to settle for a field goal attempt five of those times.

Erickson and Carpenter could not point to one specific reason for the red zone deficiencies, but they both know ASU needs to fix something when the offense gets deep in the opponent's territory.

"We kill ourselves [in the red zone]," Carpenter said. "It's just a mixture of everything on offense that has been going wrong all year.

"It's extremely frustrating. We probably had more opportunities than they did… It's frustrating because we know that we leave a lot of points out there every week."

In Erickson's mind, ASU needs to find something that works in the red zone and stick with it.

The problem is the Sun Devils haven't found it yet.

"We haven't been able to hang our hats on anything down in the red zone," he said. "We're just not doing the things we need to do down there to get it into the end zone.
"We've got to get better down there."

Breakout performances

It was hard to ignore the performances of running back Shaun DeWitty and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy against Oregon State.

DeWitty received his first start of the season and rushed for 110 yards on 16 carries. It was the first time in 2008 that an ASU running back surpassed the 100-yard mark in a game.

Guy recorded six tackles, one for a loss, and Erickson said "he is playing as well as any freshman I've ever had."

DeWitty will start again this upcoming weekend against Washington and the hope is the junior will come out with another strong performance to balance the offense.

"The thing about Shaun is he is able to do everything we need," Carpenter said. "He can block for us. He can run for us. We can leave him in there as an every-down back. I think it makes us less predictable."

Penalty problems

ASU was penalized 10 times Saturday and those penalties cost it 80 yards.
Six of those flags were for false starts.

Erickson had a lot of ideas as to why those penalties occurred, but he said they all are excuses.

He knows the Sun Devils can't afford so many penalties if they want to start winning again, and he is not afraid to pull players who are making those errors.

"It's just lack of focus to me," he said. "If you can't handle it then we'll get someone in there who can. That's the bottom line."

Booting the ball

Trevor Hankins handled all four of ASU's punts on Saturday and averaged 37 yards per attempt.

Hankins was in there to take the load off of kicker Thomas Weber, who has been struggling with his field goals as of late, and it worked somewhat. Weber was four-for-five on field goal attempts Saturday.

Hankins first three punts were very good, but he shanked his fourth attempt and it only traveled 29 yards.

Erickson said Hankins is a better punter than he has shown in the past two games and that he plans to stick with him.

However, if Hankins continues to be inconsistent on Saturdays Erickson will switch back to Weber.

"We've got to get a better performance out of [Hankins]," Erickson said. "He's a lot better punter than he showed the other night so he has to step up and punt it.

"If you're going to be our punter then you're going to have to step up and punt. If he isn't then I'll go back to Weber."

Homecoming

ASU's homecoming game against Washington State on Nov. 15 will begin at 3:30 p.m. It will not be televised.


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