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November 10, 2009

Erickson undecided on starting quarterback

Sure, big Brock Osweiler showed flashes of brilliance during the second half of Arizona State's 14-9 loss to USC on Saturday. And sure, senior Danny Sullivan hasn't exactly been Jake Plummer this season. But ASU coach Dennis Erickson isn't ready to declare a changing of the guard at quarterback just yet.

"I haven't made a decision on what I'm going to do yet," Erickson said of the position. "We've talked about it. There's things that you got to think about going in there. We're going to make that decision probably in the next couple of days."

For what it's worth, Sullivan's regularly scheduled weekly press conference was discontinued on Monday.

When asked if he would consider divvying the snaps between the two quarterbacks, Erickson said he would prefer to give one guy a shot to prove himself.

"Danny did not play as bad as everyone might have thought," Erickson said. "He made some good throws. It's not that he went in there and played so bad that [I had] to yank him. I made the change because I wanted to get some energy on offense, which Brock brought to us."

While Erickson noted Osweiler's exciting style of play and his ability to guide ASU to its only touchdown, he also repeatedly mentioned Osweiler's inexperience.

"I've got to do what gives us the best chance to win," Erickson said. "Maybe it's not the most popular decision, but it's a decision that I've got to make to give our football team the best way to win."

Perhaps lost in all the attention given to the quarterbacks was the promotion of freshman running back Cameron Marshall, who started over senior Dimitri Nance. Though Nance has been battling a shoulder injury over the past few weeks, he played throughout Saturday's contest.

"Cameron Marshall played good," Erickson said after the game. "He just fumbled. That simple."

Meanwhile, sophomore running back Ryan Bass has been suspended indefinitely for violating unspecified team rules. He wasn't even in the stadium for Saturday's game and has had a rocky time this season.

Just days after pleading publicly for more playing time, Bass got his chance to play against Cal on Oct. 31. In the week leading up to the game, both Erickson and his son, running backs coach Bryce Erickson, said Bass needed to improve his ball security. Unfortunately for Bass, he fumbled near the goal line against Cal and never stepped on the field after that.

On the flipside of things is the Oregon running back situation.

Thanks to the punch seen 'round the world, Oregon senior running back LeGarrette Blount had been suspended since his team's opener at Boise State on Sept. 3. But Blount was reinstated on Monday, just in time for ASU and its rush defense, which is tops in the Pac-10 at 87.4 yards allowed per game.

"As far as [Blount's] situation is concerned, I'm really happy for the kid," Erickson said. "Because that's something that he's had in his life and it was taken away and he fought back and got it. As far as we're concerned, I'm not real excited about it."

As if the Oregon offense needed more firepower.

Sans Blount, the Oregon rushing attack is still the most prolific of the Pac-10, as it averages 233.6 yards per game.

Oregon freshman running back LaMichael James has flourished in Blount's absence, racking up nearly 116 yards per game, which is second-best in the conference behind Stanford's Toby Gerhart.

"It's by far the biggest challenge we've ever had on defense since I've been here," Erickson said.

Adding to the trouble will be the raucous Autzen stadium crowd, which Erickson said will force ASU to run on silent counts and not audible at the line.


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