Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Running Backs Solid During Scrimmage

While the most noteworthy part of Tuesday morning's scrimmage was likely the list of players not on the field, walk-on running back James Morrison made sure he was making noise on it.

The walk-on showed some hard-nosed running ability and broke off several big runs during the scrimmage, most of them taking place with the third unit. Morrison, who went to high school at St. Mary's in Phoenix, carried the ball 11 times for around 80 yards (Note: there weren't any official stats kept so the stats I am giving are based on what I marked after every play. They are pretty close though).

"I felt like I did my best on every rep," Morrison said after Tuesday morning's practice. "I ran physical and did what I had to do and did what the coaches told me to do."

Coach Erickson said given his performance in camp so far he wasn't suprised by Morrison's performance on Tuesday.

"I'm shocked that he wasn't recruited by somebody," Erickson said of his running back.

With Keegan Herring on the sideline continuing to nurse a sore shoulder, Dimitri Nance took most the snaps at running back with the first unit and performed well. Nance broke a couple of big runs and ended with around 65 yards on five carries.

Freshman Ryan Bass also looked impressive as he carried the ball 10 times for about 50 yards. Bass also showed good hands turning several screen passes into sizable gains.

In the passing game Rudy Carpenter led the first string offense without his top three recievers. Kyle Williams is still being held out for a couple of days following a slight concusssion and Chris McGahee was being held out for general soreness. Wideout Michael Jones got his bell rung following his first catch on the second play of the scrimmage and was held out the rest of practice as a precaution.

Despite missing several weapons Carpenter performed well hooking up on several big pass plays with receiver T.J. Simpson. He also connected on a good looking 16 yard touchdown pass on a fade route to freshman Gerell Robinson. Robinson showed the athleticism was recruited for going up and grabbing the ball high in the air.

Danny Sullivan performed well under center for the second unit including the play of the day -a 70 yard touchdown pass to Simpson on an up-and-go route down the sideline. Sullivan, though, also had some trouble with the snap as there were three fumbles with the center exchange during the second unit's first series of plays.

Defensively the secondary stood out for the Sun Devils. Safety Troy Nolan had the lone interception on the day off of Rudy Carpenter on a ball over the middle. Omar Bolden played lock down coverage throughout practice but dropped a gift interception that had him kicking himself. Bolden has been the voice of the Devils secondary during camp and is quick to jump on players for dropping interceptions, so he certainly caught a healthy ribbing after the drop.

Throughout the offseason there has been much said about the play of the offensive lines inexperience but Erickson liked what he saw on Tuesday.

"Our first offensive front played extremely well," the coach said.

The unit opened up some big holes during the first series, paving the way for some of Nance's big runs.

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