September 10, 2008

Nixon slides over to MIKE with Munns out

With Gerald Munns out, Mike Nixon is in.

Munns is slated to miss the ASU football team's upcoming game against UNLV after having surgery Tuesday to repair a broken pinky finger, and Nixon will step into his place as the starting middle linebacker.

Nixon, who has been primarily a weak-side linebacker all fall, has no problem sliding inside. He has plenty of experience at the position having spent time there last season and in the spring.

Nixon said he doesn't have a preference where he plays - all he cares about is getting on the field.

"I just want to be out there and I'll do whatever they ask me to do to get out there," he said. "I really don't have a favorite position and I'm comfortable at all three. So this week with Munns out with the nicked up finger I'll take his spot and hopefully we can just go out there and get the win."

But just because Nixon doesn't care where he lines up doesn't mean he doesn't notice the difference.

He knows he will have to be much more physical in the middle than he was playing on the outside.

"You're inside and you're messing with the big linemen more," Nixon said. "Coming off the edge you're kind of just filling in and making plays.

"The middle is a little more physical so I'll just have to step it up."

Starting along side Nixon will be Ryan McFoy at weak-side linebacker and Travis Goethel on the strong side.

Those three don't have very much experience playing together this fall because Nixon and McFoy have both been playing weak-side, but Nixon isn't concerned.

"We have enough confidence in each other so we just have to communicate out there and make sure we're all on the same page," he said. "We haven't played together that much but we're pretty comfortable with each other and we should be alright."

Less linebacker depth

Munns' absence might not be the Sun Devils' only issue at linebacker this weekend.
True freshman Brandon Magee partially tore his left pectoral muscle lifting weights Tuesday morning, and coach Dennis Erickson said his status is uncertain for the UNLV game.

Erickson said Magee will see a doctor Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury.

Magge showed up near the end of ASU's practice Tuesday night wearing street clothes and had tape over the injured pectoral.

Also, Chad Lindsey was not at practice Tuesday. Erickson said Lindsey had personal issues he was dealing with and his availability for Saturday's game is also uncertain.

"This was one of our deeper positions going into the year but it's pretty thin right now," Nixon said. "If we can get through this week we'll get Munns back and hopefully [Morris] Wooten and we'll be back to a deep position where we can rotate a lot of guys."

With Munns, Magee and Lindsey out of the mix Tuesday, the No. 2 linebackers at practice were Oliver Aaron on the weak side, Shelly Lyons in the middle and Jeff Bereuter on the strong side.

Colin Parker and Derrall Anderson could be in the mix as well.

Injury update

Running back Keegan Herring (hamstring) was not wearing pads and did not participate Tuesday. Erickson said he will not know more on Herring until Thursday.

Tight end Andrew Pettes (groin) was not wearing pads Tuesday either.

Erickson said Pettes is a "day-to-day deal."

One week after injuring his back in the weight room, defensive tackle Spencer Gasu was back on the practice field Tuesday as a member of the scout team.

Offensive lineman Matt Hustad (knee) was in full pads Tuesday but was limited in practice. Erickson said Hustad will likely be a full participant in practice next week.

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