Spring football games have different results for ASU, UA

ASU’s Dennis Erickson liked what he saw.  UofA’s Mike Stoops didn’t like what he heard.

Both were the results of the spring games that wrapped up several weeks of spring football practice at the Arizona universities.

Arizona State held its game this morning and Erickson seemed especially pleased with an offense that racked up 601 yards and won the contest against the defense, 83-27.  Scoring does not follow a typical game situation, thus the big numbers.

And, more importantly, there were no major injuries in the game.

Unlike last week’s spring game in Tucson, when the Wildcats suffered a third serious knee injury during the practice period.  Stoops, the Arizona head coach, just found out this week the severity of that last mishap.

Jake Fischer, a two-year strong-side linebacker who graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School, underwent tests this week to learn the extent of the injury, suffered in the final minutes of the spring game.  The suspected torn ACL was confirmed, and Fischer joins starting safety Adam Hall and back-up running back Greg Nwoko in the torn ACL club.

Hall and Nwoko’s knee injuries came in practices leading up to the final game.  All are expected to miss most, or all, of the 2011 season.

The Cats aren’t particularly deep at linebacker, following the departure of back-ups R.J. Young and Trevor Erno, who quit the team after the 2010 season ended.  So they have just five LB’s on the roster until July, when the freshmen arrive.

One of those true freshmen will likely end up filling Fischer’s spot.  That trio includes Domonique Petties from Oklahoma, Rob Hankins from Texas, and California’s Hank Hobson.

Erickson, the ASU boss who is heading into a make-or-break fifth season, lost two key players in spring practice and was holding his breath that his squad could get through the spring game unscathed.

ASU lost cornerback Omar Bolden, who had passed up a chance to enter the NFL draft to return to Tempe for his senior season, and T.J. Simpson, the team’s leading wide receiver from last season.

But the Sun Devils managed to have a lively and productive game this morning – without the injuries.

Next season’s projected starting quarterback, Brock Osweiler, completed 17-of-22 pass attempts for 237 yards and five touchdowns.  ASU’s offense is expected to be pass-oriented, and the results this morning would tend to confirm that.  The offense picked up 446 yards in the air and 155 rushing.

Arizona should also be throwing the ball a lot next season, making for a fan’s delight when the two teams meet at the end of the season.  The Cats’ starting QB, Nick Foles, was 11-for-16 for 133 yards in their spring game, and back-up Matt Scott added another 134 yards with an 11-for-13 performance.

The offense also won the Wildcats’ final game, 53-10.

ASU’s back-up quarterback role is up for grabs, says Erickson, between Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly.  Bercovici was 9-for-13 for 87 this morning and Kelly completed 4-of-9 for 78 yards.

Kyle Middlebrooks led the rushing in ASU’s game, picking up 66 yards on four carries.  Marcus Washington carried three times for 28 yards and a score.

Cameron Marshall rushed three times for just seven yards, but had three catches for 24 yards and a TD.  Gerell Robinson caught four balls for 65 yards and a score, while Aaron Pflugrad snagged three for 74 yards and a TD.

On defense, Will Sutton, Greg Smith, Derrall Anderson, and Charles Beatty all recorded sacks.  Anthony Jones had an interception that he returned for 27 yards.

And the kicking game looked pretty solid, as Alex Garoutte was 5-for-5 on point-after attempts and 3-for-3 pushing through field goal attempts of 43, 37, and 49 yards.

“Finally, we’re to the level that I wanted, speed-wise, on both sides of the ball,” said Erickson after this morning’s game.  “We have a chance to be really good.  We have a lot of talent out there.

“If we have a good fall camp, there is no reason we shouldn’t have a good year.”

That’s what ASU fans were hoping to hear, following a couple of losing seasons and a break-even 6-6 record last year.  A thrilling overtime win against rival Arizona to close out the 2010 season has them hungering for more.

Which leads to another good sign at the spring game.  The attendance, estimated at about 6,400, is the best it’s been in quite a few years.

Another indication the ASU faithful are still keeping the faith.

(Photo: ASU Athletics/Steve Rodriguez)