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August 25, 2010Over the course of the last three weeks, Arizona State's quarterback competition has been the primary topic of conversation among anyone and everyone discussing the team, and understandably so.
Through ASU's media relations department, coach Dennis Erickson announced Monday he wouldn't name a starter until next Monday, no doubt hoping the message would lead to a reduction of questions about the battle in the interim.
There was no such luck for Erickson a day later, however, when he was asked by a reporter following the team's Tuesday practice for the latest news on the situation.
"I announced I was going to make it Monday, so that's when I'm going to make that decision," Erickson said tersely. "So we'll wait until Monday."
Not to be denied, the reporter followed up, "Have you (already) made [the decision]?"
Erickson quickly came back with, "I wouldn't tell you even if I had."
And so the speculation continues.
ASUDevils.com reported Monday, junior Steven Threet is the leading candidate to win the nod over sophomore Brock Osweiler, with junior Samson Szakacsy likely looking at situational duty or clean-up work as his best option to see the field in the team's opener.
For the third session in a row Tuesday, a span that includes the team's Saturday scrimmage, Threet has been the first quarterback under center in the team's 11-on-11 practice segments. It's as clear a sign as any where the competition sits with just two sessions remaining before the team's Mock Game Friday at 7 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium, which will be a non-hitting affair open to the public.
The Sun Devils, in fact, are done scrimmaging themselves during the preseason. The last live hitting team period occurred Tuesday in the second half of the workout, with media observation abbreviated due to wind and lightning from a monsoon storm in the area.
Erickson said he was pleased with how his team looked during the workout, which lasted at least 30 minutes shorter than scheduled.
"It was probably the best tempo of the year on both sides of the football as far as the no-huddle and energy on defense," Erickson said. "I remember when we came off the two-day break (last season), it was one of the worst practices we ever had. So to see one of the best we've had is pretty darn good.
"Particularly Steven (Threet) and Brock (Osweiler) picked up the tempo. We talked a lot about that today in our meetings, not waiting for things to happen. We've got to continue to do that."
Osweiler had one of the best throws of the preseason, a 20-plus yard out thrown while moving to his left to junior receiver Mike Willie. The ball was placed perfectly on Willie's shoulder, just beyond the reach of junior safety Clint Floyd, who appeared to have the play as well covered as possible.
The play had onlookers buzzing, but several snaps later, Osweiler threw an interception to senior middle linebacker Gerald Munns, who was unaccounted for in zone coverage and easily walked into the end zone for what would have been a touchdown.
For the first time this month, captains lined up in the middle of the field Tuesday to held lead the Sun Devils' warm ups.
The captains, elected by the team, are Munns and fellow seniors Jon Hargis and Thomas Weber, and fourth year junior Omar Bolden.
Erickson said sophomore defensive tackle Toa Tuitea, who has worn a heavy brace on his left elbow and not participated in recent sessions, and true freshman defensive tackle Lee Adams, who hurt his right knee Friday, could be able to return to practice soon.
Junior receiver Gerell Robinson is still hampered by the hamstring he hurt in the first week of camp and re-aggravated the following week. He's not practiced since.
Hopefully he'll be ready to practice next week, but I don't know for sure," Erickson said. "He's probably the furthest away of all of them. It's frustrating for our team and really frustrating for him because he worked so hard in the summer time, and the day he was out here he was extremely good.