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November 10, 2009

Osweiler looks like early favorite to start

For now, freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler looks like he's four days away from making his first collegiate start.

Osweiler started Tuesday's practice with the No. 1s and took the majority of snaps throughout. Sophomore Samson Szakacsy also saw increased involvement, while senior quarterback Danny Sullivan spent most of his time watching or handing the ball off to the running backs.

Midway through practice, Sullivan's right arm was wrapped in ice. Erickson said Sullivan's bicep was hurt after getting hit during Saturday's 14-9 loss to USC.

When asked if Sullivan's bicep played into his decision, Erickson said, "Nah, it really doesn't. It kind of depends on what Brock does in practice."

As for the scout team offense, it ran Oregon's offense better than Chip Kelly could ever dream. It was literally impossible for ASU's defense to keep track of the football.

Then again, there was no football.

"[Oregon] hides [the ball] so well, we don't know where it's at," Erickson said. "So you just got to cover everybody."

Scout team players ran routes, executed blocks and pretended to do hand-offs, but the pigskin was missing in action. That didn't keep the defense from claiming several interceptions.

"With these cats, we had to find a different approach," junior defensive tackle Saia Falahola said. "Everybody knows about that Oregon offense."

Senior linebacker Mike Nixon said it was the first time he'd ever played against a ball-free offense. And he's old.

"It forces you to do your job," the 26-year-old said. "You can't really try to trust your eyes and play something that you don't really see. Without a ball you just got to play your assignment, which is what the coaches are really kind of emphasizing today."

But the football was just one of many noticeable omissions from Wednesday's practice. Senior cornerback Terell Carr, who has started the last six games, was suspended indefinitely by the team and will miss Saturday's game in Eugene.

Carr was arrested late Tuesday night after having a loud argument with a woman in a dorm on ASU's Tempe Campus. It is unknown whether he's been charged with anything.

The Sun Devils will also be without junior cornerback Omar Bolden, who was declared done for the year by Erickson. Bolden injured his MCL on Oct. 7 when he collided with Carr near the end of practice.

Sophomore cornerback Josh Jordan, who was running with the twos last week, was also held out of Tuesday's practice. Jordan rolled his ankle last Wednesday.

That means Erickson will have three healthy corners heading into Eugene. Redshirt freshman Deveron Carr and senior Pierre Singfield will start, while junior LeQuan Lewis will be the first backup. Lewis sat out of last Wednesday's practice after injuring his ankle on Tuesday, but was healthy enough to play on special teams against USC.

Sophomore safety Clint Floyd, who made his first start of the season last week, said Erickson told him he will receive some practice reps at corner this week.

"They might be tired switching off and on," Floyd said of the cornerbacks. "So I'll help them out a little bit."

All week, Erickson raved about Floyd's play and his ability to bring cornerback-like instincts to the safety position. Floyd even received some reps at corner during training camp in August. Freshman Osahon Irabor has also been out since August with a broken thumb.

"It's just a chance for guys to step up," Nixon said of the decimated position.

The injury bug may have infected the secondary, but ASU's front seven is still solid as ever. On the verge of its biggest challenge of the year, ASU boasts the conference's best rush defense at 87.4 yards allowed per game.

Most of that success has to do with ASU's front four. Falahola said he and his line mates, or "The Mad Dogs" as they like to call themselves, have achieved success simply by putting in the work day in and day out.

"Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday," Falahola said.


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