As fall practice opened in Tempe, the defense was the talk of the town. Although the story line has shifted to the offensive side of the ball, as recent practices have unfolded.
The top story coming out of the ASU camp has revolved around the quarterback position.
Senior Danny Sullivan has stolen the spotlight in recent practices, making unbelievable throws on deep routes, short sideline routes, and slant patterns to wide receivers Kerry Taylor, Kyle Williams, and T.J. Simpson, as well as in some cases, showed off his deceptive mobility to escape the pocket and gain big yardage.
Although Sullivan has proved his worth through his ability on the field with his arm and legs, the 6'5" Senior has taken his teammates and put them on his back. Sullivan's leadership qualities have been on display throughout camp, and especially during the team scrimmages.
Another developing story in Tempe, is the production that Erickson and the Sun Devils are witnessing from their recent 2009 recruiting class.
To stay on the offensive side of the ball, new running backs coach Bryce Erickson has found a nice comfort blanket with freshman ball carrier, Cameron Marshall. Marshall, the San Jose native, has a great combination of speed, power, and balance.
With the recent minor calf injury of Dimitri Nance, Marshall has since taken over the majority of the first team repetitions for the Sun Devils and has produced in great numbers.
Marshall has even stolen plays from fellow running backs Ryan Bass, Shaun DeWitty, and Jarrell Woods although all the aforementioned tailbacks have had impressive training camps thus far, including Phoenix product James Morrison.
The Sun Devils have had so much success with their running backs during camp that Bryce Erickson and the offensive staff decided to move true-freshman running back Jamal Myles to slot receiver. Myles was the state's leading rusher per game last season, as a Senior at Peoria High School in Arizona.
Now, turning to the wide receivers. Dennis Erickson has not seen the consistency that he would like out of this group of players, which is necessary to be an elite team this season. However, the best part about that is that there are plenty of practices left before the Sun Devils take the field on Sept. 5th against Idaho State.
The bright spots at wide receiver have been household names to Sun Devil fans. Seniors Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams have performed above expectations in the passing game as well as Erickson's new spread offense plays, utilizing wide receiver screens.
With the speed and precise route running of McGaha, Williams, and Junior receiver, Kerry Taylor, the Sun Devils have an impressive nucleus on the outside to produce tremendous numbers this Fall.
Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, has been watching the progression of Gerrell Robinson and Freshman J.J. Holiday emerge as solid possession receivers going into the 2009 campaign.
With the wide receiver position sporting roller-coaster performances, the tight end position might be the most integral position on offense other than the offensive line.
In the past, Sun Devil fans have worshiped Arizona legends such as Todd Heap and Zach Miller. This season's tight end corps might depend on a Nevada native, Dan Knapp.
Knapp, 6'5" 260 lbs, is the best rounded of all the Sun Devil tight ends this season and has been rewarded with his offseason work with first team repetitions. In doing so, Knapp has impressed not only the offensive coaches, but even defensive coordinator Craig Bray.
Knapp's route running at the tight end position is nearly as precise as McGaha's ability at the wide receiver position. The Reno Nevada native, Knapp can also utilize his body strength and size to control the line of scrimmage and assist the offensive linemen on the edge.
Now, to the "big uglies" up front. This position battle might not be the sexiest by any means, but might be as important as the quarterback battle.
Although injuries have affected the chemistry and continuity of the offensive line thus far in camp, in recent practices, the offensive line has started to take shape, and control the defense during team periods.
As of right now, the offensive line is looking like this on the first team: (from left to right) Shawn Lauvao, John Hargis, Thomas Altieri, Zach Schlink, Tom Njunge.
Offensive line coach Gregg Smith has rotated-in key reserves and injury-plagued players, such as Garth Gerhart, Matt Hustad, Andrew Sampson, Patrick Jamison.
The center position battle has been one to watch, although Gerhart was sidelined early last Saturday during the Sun Devils scrimmage with a turf toe injury, and has since been limited to individual drills.
Matt Hustad has returned from his knee injuries the past couple seasons to provide depth at the tackle position, as well as push for first team repetitions with Njunge at right tackle.
Although, many around the Pac-10 are looking for the defense to outshine the offense in the Valley of the Sun, lately at Sun Devil practices, the offense has been the shining star during workouts.
With two more weeks left before the Sun Devils take the field against Idaho State, there will be many more updates from Tempe.
Just check back to BleacherReport.com for all the updates and information regarding your Arizona State Sun Devils.
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