November 5, 2008

Football notebook

Shaun DeWitty's friends and family took notice of his breakout performance against Oregon State on Saturday.

The junior running back was bombarded with phone calls and text messages after he rushed for 110 yards against the Beavers.

DeWitty appreciated the support, but despite his performance, he felt the same way following the OSU game that he has after each of the Sun Devils past six contests.

After the game was over, he wasn't thinking about how well he had just played. All that mattered to him was the fact that his team just lost the game.

"Being a football player it always feels good to get on the field and play football," Dewitty said, "but I don't really feel any different than I did the week before because we still didn't get the win."

On Monday, quarterback Rudy Carpenter said DeWitty is one of those guys who need a lot of reps to get into the rhythm of the game and Tuesday DeWitty agreed with his quarterback.

As the game went on, DeWitty said, he started to feel more and more comfortable.

"I feel like that [getting a lot of carries] is what it was a little bit," DeWitty said, "just get a feel for the game.

"It's always good to get into a rhythm."

DeWitty's start came as a surprise to many, but not to him.

Running backs' coach Jamie Christian told DeWitty last Tuesday that he would start against the Beavers.

DeWitty's performance on Saturday marked the first time in 2008 that an ASU running back passed the 100-yard mark in a game.

Coach Dennis Erickson was very pleased with DeWitty's performance and will give him the start again this week against Washington.

Perhaps the biggest difference between DeWitty and some of the Sun Devils' other options in the backfield, Erickson said, is DeWitty's ability to be an all-around back.

"The reason we decided to start Shaun is because he does every aspect of the game very well," he said. "He's a good pass protector. He's a hard runner. He's a guy that's not going to make mental mistakes.

"We felt that we needed that."

O-line changes

The No. 1 offensive line had a new look Tuesday with Shawn Lauvao moving from left guard to right tackle and with Zach Schlink sliding into Lauvao's old spot.

Also, centers Thomas Altieri and Garth Gerhart split reps with the first team.

Erickson said none of those changes are necessarily permanent, but the coaching staff will evaluate which group of players protects the best and will use that front on Saturday.

"We have to find the best combination," Erickson said. "We have to see how it goes. [Tom] Njunge could still start at right tackle and Shawn could move [back] inside.

"We're just looking at it. We're staying with it for a day or two just so Shawn can play out there."

Erickson said the changes up front are not because of the six false start penalties the offensive line had against OSU.

"It's more than just false starts that we're struggling with," he said. "We have four football games left and we have to find a way to win one here."

From left to right, Tuesday's second-team offensive line consisted of Mike Marcisz, Brent Good, Altieri or Gerhart, Adam Tello and Njunge.

Returning duties

Wide receiver Kyle Williams returned to practice Tuesday after missing all of last week with a concussion.

In Williams' absence against OSU, wide receiver Nate Kimbrough returned punts and had a solid outing averaging more than 28 yards per return.

Erickson liked what he saw out of Kimbrough and is considering having him return punts again when ASU faces the Huskies this weekend.

However, Erickson will not decide between Kimbrough and Williams until later this week.

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