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April 25, 2010

Offense underwhelms in spring game

An estimated 6,000 fans were in attendance at Saturday's annual Arizona State spring game no doubt looking for signs of the potent, high powered new offense they'd spent recent weeks and months reading and hearing about.

They're still looking.

Quarterback play was mediocre at best, the run game was largely absent and there was just one touchdown in four quarters of action as the defense won 61-36 in a scrimmage that had a scoring system which included points for everything from first downs to defensive stops and turnovers.

Of all the team's scrimmages this spring, it was probably the worst performance by the offense. Certainly not the one they would have liked to have fans see.

Brock Osweiler completed 17-of-33 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown with one interception while Steven Threet went 9-of-27 for 117 yards with three interceptions.

"I don't think offensively we executed like we need to," Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson said. "We can't turn the ball over and throw interceptions like we did. Our quarterbacks have got to play better than we played today, no ifs or ands. It was an opportunity for one of them to emerge and neither one of them emerged so we'll continue it into fall camp."

The most exciting offensive moment of the scrimmage came on the game's first play, when Osweiler threw a lateral to receiver Jamal Miles, who lobbed a long pass to receiver Kerry Taylor. It was a play they only learned they'd be running on Thursday.

ASU completed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler to receiver George Bell, but there wasn't much offense to speak of after that, save three 40-plus yard field goals from Thomas Weber, who rebounded nicely from a poor scrimmage performance last weekend.

Though the offense left much to be desired for fans, they were able to see a defense that has earned rave reviews from coaches and reporters over the course of the last month, with Eddie Elder, Clint Floyd, Anthony Jones, Mike Callaghan and Ronald Kenndy Jr. hauling in interceptions and Jamarr Robinson, Toa Tuitea, William Sutton, Bo Moos and Lawrence Guy collecting sacks.

"We were basically in a solo read, I had to read Threet," Floyd said of his interception, which he returned for a touchdown. "One of the linebackers got a hand on it and it just came to me but I think I was going to pick it off even without that. When you see nothing in front of you but open field that's lovely. You know for sure that you're going to score."

ASU's offensive woes included at least a handful of drops, with two by running back Cameron Marshall on almost identical screen passes close together in the first half. There were also three false starts.

Though the scrimmage was underwhelming, Erickson said he believes the offense is on track to get things turned around after poor performances in each of the last two seasons.

"I thought this spring it was good offensively," he said. "We made a lot of improvement and have a long way to go. We just look at the tape and get ready for fall ball."


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