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November 18, 2009

Szakacsy earns majority of first-team reps

The Arizona State quarterback carousel appears to be making another turn.

Two days after freshman Brock Osweiler made his first career start under center, it appears he has been pushed back to No. 3 on the depth chart.

Sophomore Samson Szakacsy, who capitalized on his first legit playing time Saturday, took a majority of first-team snaps during Tuesday's practice. Senior Danny Sullivan also ran some plays with the ones, and didn't look hampered by the arm injury that held him out of Saturday's 44-21 loss at Oregon.

"[Szakacsy] will get turns with the ones so he can get used to dealing with them, he hasn't dealt with them [yet]," ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. "So if we make a decision to start him, he's ready to go."

Erickson said he was happy all three quarterbacks were healthy enough to practice, but said he could wait until Saturday to make his decision.

"Depends on what side of the couch I wake up [on]," Erickson said.

Szakacsy has suffered from tendonitis in his throwing elbow all season, but Erickson said the elbow wasn't an issue for Szakacsy on Tuesday.

If Szakacsy does make his first start on Saturday at UCLA, it would be the third quarterback Erickson has started in as many weeks. Despite the constant turnover, senior wide receiver Kyle Williams said it hasn't been hard for his unit to adjust.

"It's not too bad," Williams said. "We know all these guys pretty well, they know us well. We spent a lot of time with them throughout the spring and everything so it's not bad. It's just a matter of getting used to it. You saw Samson come in cold off the bench and make plays last week."

Williams raved about Szakacsy's mobility, calling his ability to make plays after breaking tackles "incredible."

"With Samson, he's got a lot of athletic ability out there," Williams said. "He's like one of us back there playing … As receivers we work a little harder to find soft spots in the defense that he can find us in. And he's been able to get it to us,"

Despite Szakacsy's elbow woes, Williams said all three quarterbacks have similar range. Williams also said Szakacsy's elbow hasn't appeared to affect his velocity.

"It's coming hot in there," Williams said. "He looks fine."

Though freshman running back Cameron Marshall took some reps with the first-team offense Tuesday, Erickson said senior Dimitri Nance is still the No. 1 back.

Freshman Jamal Miles, who has seen increased action as a slot receiver in recent weeks, also lined up in the backfield during portions of Tuesday's practice. Erickson said he was just "evaluating" the situation.

Despite the team's offensive struggles this year, it has statistically improved in a couple of notable areas.

This year, ASU averages about 123 rushing yards per game, up from 89.1 last year. The Sun Devils may want to test the UCLA rush defense early this weekend, as it has given up 148.5 yards per game, which is the third-highest total in the conference.

The Sun Devils have also given up 18 sacks through 10 games this season, compared to 34 sacks in 12 contests last year.

"I like what we're doing on offense," ASU tight ends coach Jamie Christian said. "The offense has taken heat here or there, but the scheme is good. We've spent a lot of time with it and we got more than enough plays. We just got to get it executed."


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