Last season, Arizona State’s first foray into coach Dennis Erickson’s spread offense was limited to the basic one-back, slot-receiver formation, with an occasional two-tight end look.
The Sun Devils vowed to be much more diversified in 2008, in big part to keep the pass rush from teeing off on quarterback Rudy Carpenter, but also because Erickson felt that his offense could handle a bigger playbook.
The results were on the Sun Devil Stadium field against Stanford on Saturday, as ASU had little trouble moving the ball no matter how it lined up. Basic formation, two tight ends, four- and five-receivers sets — Erickson used them all en route to 472 total yards.
“We’re going to show teams everything, that’s the goal,” Erickson said Sunday after reviewing film of the Sun Devils’ 41-17 victory. “In packages last year, we relied a little more on one formation. Now, we’ll try to give different looks all the time, putting together a package for every game and expanding on it.”
The only part of the gameplan that needs work, Erickson said, is the red-zone package. The coach was steamed that ASU marched inside the 10-yard line on its first two possessions of the game but settled for field goals.
“That was ridiculous,” Erickson said. “We have to get it in the end zone for touchdowns, not field goals. The biggest disappointment, if there was one in the game, was not getting it in those two times.”
In both games this year, ASU — which stayed at 15th in the Associated Press poll but rose a spot to 13th in the USA Today (coaches) rankings — has had nine different receivers catch a pass.
Tight end was a question mark coming into the season, however, the success the group had during practice has translated into games.
Starter Andrew Pettes departed with a groin pull on Saturday, but Jovon Williams made a sharp sideline catch to set up a score, and Dan Knapp had a touchdown reception.
“Going into the fall, we weren’t sure about tight end,” Erickson said. “Those guys have been playing well, and Wes Evens has been doing some things for us at fullback, and we might do some of that everywhere on the field, not just on the goal line.”
• Arizona State middle linebacker Gerald Munns on Saturday played “the best game he’s had since I’ve been here,” coach Dennis Erickson said.
Against Stanford, the junior had a team-high seven tackles and had an interception that set up a touchdown to go out (temporarily) with a bang. Munns will have surgery this week to place pins in his fractured left pinky finger and is expected to miss one game.
“He was really physical,” Erickson said. “The team talked about being physical all week, because Stanford is a physical team. Gerald was the leader of that. He made plays in the run game and was the leader on defense.”
•Erickson said that breakdowns in kickoff coverage — Stanford’s Jeremy Stewart had returns of 52 and 48 yards — were the result of players not staying in their lanes.
“On those two, we blew it,” Erickson said. “Otherwise, we covered well.”
• Running back Keegan Herring tweaked the right hamstring that kept him out of the season-opening game against Northern Arizona. He is day-to-day but should play this week.
• Tight end Andrew Pettes re-aggravated a groin pull he suffered in practice last week but should be OK.
• Reserve linebacker Morris Wooten will not be reinstated this week, Erickson said. Wooten and defensive end Jamarr Robinson, who is also suspended, are slated to return against Georgia on Sept. 20.
• Erickson’s 12-3 record in his first 15 games is the best mark for an ASU coach since Dan Devine went 12-2-1 in 1956-57. Frank Kush was 11-4 in his first 15 contests, Darryl Rogers 10-5, John Cooper 10-4-1, Larry Marmie 9-6, Bruce Snyder 8-7 and Dirk Koetter 7-8.
• Defensive end Dexter Davis’ four sacks this year ranks first in the Pac-10 and ties for second in the nation.
• Quarterback Rudy Carpenter had three touchdown passes on Saturday to bring his career total to 69, the ninth most in Pac-10 history.
• Thomas Weber has kicked a field goal in 13 consecutive games, two short of the school record held by Luis Zendejas (1981-82).
• Before turning complete attention to second-ranked Georgia, the Sun Devils host Nevada-Las Vegas at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Rebels, who won two games last season, are 1-1, beating Utah State and losing to Utah. Starting defensive tackle Martin Tevaseu was on ASU’s roster in 2005, and he is one of about 20 former Pac-10 players suiting up for UNLV.