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Arizona State not overlooking NAU
Arizona State faces its second Football Championship Subdivision opponent Saturday, but coach Dennis Erickson knows the Sun Devils face a tougher challenge in Northern Arizona.
“They know us better,” Erickson said. “It’s a huge game for them. You watched how they played the UofA last year (a 34-17 Wildcats’ win). They gave them everything they wanted and we expect the same thing. It’s going to be a challenge for us. The biggest thing we have to do is worry about improving because there were a lot of mistakes we made in that football game against Portland State.”
Picked fifth in the Big Sky Conference preseason poll, the Lumberjacks are No. 24 in the FCS coach’s poll. They opened with a 48-0 win over Western New Mexico. Freshman Zach Bauman, a Chandler Hamilton High graduate, rushed for 167 yards and four touchdowns, earning national awards. Quarterback Michael Herrick, a transfer from Mississippi, completed 15 of 25 for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
“I tell you what, I just watched them on offense (Monday) morning and watched them on defense (Sunday) night; they’re very talented,” Erickson said. “Bauman had a heck of a game. We had him in camp. He’s an extremely good running back. And the quarterback is really impressive. He gets rid of the football. They do some of the things we do. They got a receiver, (Daiveun Curry-Chapman), who really is a good player, and they know what they’re doing. The take advantage of their personnel groups. Their offensive front plays hard. They catch the football. They’re a good team. I’m sure they feel they’re going to win the Big Sky Conference championship, which to me, that’s a pretty good football league.”
Other notes and tidbits:
*ASU fell short of the “12-percent rule” put in place by Noel Mazzone. The first-year offensive coordinator thinks that if the Sun Devils can keep dropped balls, foolish penalties, sacks and turnovers under 12 percent of the team’s total plays, then it should win. “I think we were at 14 percent,'’ junior quarterback Steven Threet said. “A couple more plays than we would like, but you know, for a first game, we did all right. There’s always room for improvement and that’s what we got to focus on getting ready for NAU.”
*Threet could remember getting hit only a couple times Saturday. “The offensive line did a phenomenal job with protection,” he said. “There were a lot of times when I was sitting back there and there was nobody near me and the ball was already off.”
*Erickson still is fuming about ASU’s penalties against Portland State. The Sun Devils were flagged 11 times for 93 yards. “Three personal foul penalties is something we just can’t have,'’ he said. “We’ve talked about it, and we’ll continue to talk about it. You’re going to have your hustle penalties, when you’re hustling to try to (make) some plays and you hit somebody late. But the dumb penalties of just hitting somebody when you shouldn’t be, to me it’s selfish. It doesn’t have anything to do with helping us win.”
*Junior Aderious Simmons was one of 10 players who made their ASU debuts. Simmons, a second-team tackle, missed the first two weeks of camp as he completed his junior-college course work, but he’s come on strong. “He played good,” Erickson said. “He pass protected extremely well. He’s just natural at pass protection. The run game, he’s getting better at. … But for the first time, and only being here about two weeks, I thought it was extremely good.”
*The coaching staff continues to be impressed with the receivers’ blocking. “That’s a total difference from a year ago,” Erickson said.
By Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic