Erickson, Sun Devils select football captains

TEAM LEADERS: ASU junior quarterback Brock Osweiler makes a pass during the Sun Devil’s scrimmage on Saturday. Osweiler was named one of the team captains, along with redshirt senior offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and redshirt senior linebacker Colin Parker. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Great teams have great leaders.

While their coaches primarily lead teams, player captains also play a huge role in team dynamics.

Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler, senior offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and senior linebacker Colin Parker were voted as captains by their teammates.

Although senior cornerback Omar Bolden and senior wide receiver T.J. Simpson are injured, coach Dennis Erickson has elected to include them among the captains as well.

“Obviously Omar and T.J. are captains,” Erickson said. “If Omar wasn’t hurt he would get every vote.”

 

Gearing up

The 2011 football season is just 10 days away and the Sun Devils have begun to prepare for their first opponent, UC Davis.

ASU began its game prep in Tuesday’s practice and implemented a scout team for the first time this season.

The scout team is often overlooked, but Erickson believes it is a vital part of a team as he recognizes that if the scout team improves, so will the Sun Devils.

“Our scout team has got to learn how to practice [as the opponent],” Erickson said. “It’s really underrated. As time goes on, it will get better and better.”

 

Returners selected

In addition to naming captains, Erickson has also named the kick and punt returners for the upcoming season.

Sophomore Kyle Middlebrooks and junior Jamal Miles will return kicks, while Miles will return punts.

Last season, Middlebrooks returned 16 kickoffs and averaged 26.4 yards per return. Miles averaged 39.3 yards on his three kickoff returns and averaged just over eight and a half yards with his 29 punt returns.

 

More firepower required

If ASU wants to compete on the scoreboard with teams like Oregon, they will need to put up more points.

The Sun Devils averaged over 32 points per game last season and are expected to have even more weapons this season.

ASU is in its second year under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, and while the players may say they feel more confident in the new spread offense, Erickson wants more production.

“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Erickson said. “We are not where I believe we can be offensively.”

 

Building reinforcements

Defensively, the Sun Devils allowed 25 points per game last season, a number they are trying to reduce in 2011.

“It’s improved a lot,” sophomore defensive tackle Will Sutton said of the defense. “The number one thing is speed. We run to the ball, we fly to the ball, we tackle, we strip, we do whatever it takes to get somebody down. We are just out there [being] fast, physical, mean, we will hit you in the mouth.”

Sutton believes the Sun Devils have improved both the run and pass rush and expects the defense to have a big year.

 

Field goal unit still a problem

Erickson has voiced his frustrations about the kicking game in the past, but the unit continues to struggle. Redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte made just two of his five field goal attempts in Saturday’s scrimmage and followed that up with a 3-for-7 performance on Monday and a 4-for-9 performance on Tuesday.

 

Injuries finally clearing up

Health is always an issue with football teams as injuries are part of the game. The Sun Devils have lost some big names to injuries this season, but there are a few players coming back to health.

Junior offensive lineman Andrew Sampson returned to practice Monday, and sophomore running back Deantre Lewis is expected to return to practice at some point this week.

 

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu