ASU Defense Dominates Second Scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium
The old football saying goes something like this, "defense wins championships, the offense provides the opportunity!" Saturday morning at Sun Devil Stadium, Dennis Erickson was expressing that feeling following an overpowering defensive display at Frank Kush Field.
Dexter Davis led the Sun Devil defensive, powerhouse pass rush. The Maroon and Gold had a swagger that commanded respect, and forced offensive penalties, miscues, fumbles, and blown blocking assignments.
Danny Sullivan and Erickson's offense looked sluggish from the first snap. Dimitri Nance took the hand off from Sullivan and lost one yard on an outside zone play.
However, Offensive Coordinator Rich Olson's offense was affected not only by "sack-master" Dexter Davis, Lawrence Guy was in the backfield on numerous occasions, as was Sai'a Falahola, Dean DeLeone, and Davis' counterpart at defensive end, James Brooks.
Although dominant, the defensive line might have been matched by the linebacking corps' intensity on Saturday.
It seemed that Senior outside linebacker Travis Goethel was right on top of the ball all day. If Goethel did not make the first hit on the play, the Vista, CA native was the next man running to the football.
High School All-American, Vontaze Burfict has been making a name for himself since the day he sported the maroon and gold. However, this was his first taste of Sun Devil Stadium as a player.
The fans in attendance were not disappointed, and certainly left their seats acknowledging the bright future of one of the most heralded recruits in Arizona State history.
However, as the story goes, the defense might be forced to lead the way in certain games, and especially when the offense is in a dry spell.
But an added bonus might be a spectacular return specialist in Kyle Williams.
Williams' very first return was a touchdown of nearly 75 yards, as the Senior playmaker sprinted past the punt team.
That was the good side for Dennis Erickson. The other side of the ball, however, was not as pretty. The offense struggled, and did not gain a first down until their fourth series of the day.
False start penalties, holding calls, and "sacks”, all led to drives stalling before even getting started.
Although, at times ASU showed signs of life on the offensive end. Big plays from Gerrell Robinson, excluding a costly fumble, key first downs from Kerry Taylor, and Kyle Williams were all bright spots for the maroon team.
The running game was not as impressive, with only one run of over 20 yards. However, Cameron Marshall has lived up to his billing during fall camp. ASU's running game might not have improved on the offensive line, but the running backs have added much needed quality and competition to that position battle.
This scrimmage might have displayed the physical quality that Dennis Erickson has instilled in his team this camp. In terms of injuries and physical play in practice, the Sun Devils seem to be bringing a much tougher mentality towards their game.
Injuries sidelined Senior wide receiver Chris McGaha, cornerback Terrell Carr, linebacker Oliver Aaron, and defensive end Toa Tuitea among others.
Unfortunately, another name was added to that list, nearly 10 minutes into the scrimmage. Sophomore linebacker Brandon Magee left the field on the shoulders of ASU trainers Bill Martin and Bryce Nalepa, putting no weight on his foot.
The word after the scrimmage was that Magee injured his ankle and left on crutches.
With two scrimmages down, and the 2009 season opener rapidly approaching, the focus is now turned towards implementing the game plans and strategies for ASU's first opponent, Idaho State Bengals.
The offense will have to improve and revert back to their success in closed practice settings, the first scrimmage, and carry that production to the big stage under the lights. Then again, the Sun Devil defense and special teams might be good enough to return ASU to the postseason.
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