Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekly News, Notes, & More

-- The absence of Sparky at midfield created quite a stir this past week, as rumors swirled about the university phasing out the iconic imp.
Well rest assured, Sparky is back on the field. Although still not at the 50 yard line, Sparky will be on the south side on the 25 yard line. The north 25 yard line will feature the Sun Devil Stadium 50th Anniversary logo.

-- Contrary to the news reported across the ESPN Ticker on Thursday night's football game, WR Mike Jones and RB Keegan Herring are expected to play this Saturday against the Furd. Herring missed a game for the first time in his career last week against NAU as he nursed a sore hamstring, but has been running at practice this week and is ready to get back on the field. Jones is expected to play after he sat out two practices with a strained achilles. According to Erickson, Jones "ran pretty good" and he "would be surprised if he didn't play." Also returning this week from an injury is RB Shaun DeWitty. DeWitty, ASU's biggest running back, sat out last week's game with a hamstring injury.

-- QB Rudy Carpenter will start his 33rd straight game on Saturday, he and Purdue's Painter lead all quarterbacks in the nation in most consecutive starts.

-- From the ESPN "Ten Things to Watch for Saturday" list:

2. Put '55' to bed: A 41-3 victory doesn't raise many fretful eyebrows for a winning team, but Arizona State bludgeoned Stanford by that count in its 2007 Pac-10 opener, while -- eyebrow arch now! -- giving up five first-half sacks. Thus commenced a storyline that continues today with the oft-repeated stat of 55 sacks yielded last year by the Sun Devils OL. Stanford's defensive front is stout, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage last Thursday against Oregon State. If the rebuilt Sun Devils offensive line, however, can at least reach a stalemate, then...

3. Given time, Carpenter will shine: If Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter isn't running for his life against Stanford, he will pick apart the Cardinal secondary, which won't match up with the Sun Devils skill and depth at WR, even if Michael Jones is limited by a toe injury. Oregon State and its outstanding WRs piled up over 400 yards passing; Carpenter could equal that.

8. What about Gerhart's encore?: Stanford running back Toby Gerhart ate up Oregon State with 147 yards on 19 carries and two TDs. The 230 pounder has the speed to get to the corner and the size to make things difficult once he breaks the line of scrimmage. He shredded the Beavers typically rugged run defense, so what will he do against the Sun Devils? If there's not a lot of room for Gerhart and the Cardinal running game, then things will be much harder for Stanford, which struggled to establish its passing game against the Beavers and is thin at receiver.

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