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September 1, 2009

ASU suspends '5 or 6' for opener

For the first time all fall, the Arizona State scout team donned its gold jerseys and mimicked another team's playbook. It could only mean one thing: the opening kickoff must be near.

But as bright as the jerseys were, they weren't the most conspicuous things inside the bubble Tuesday.

For one, junior wide receiver Kerry Taylor took a back seat to sophomore wide receiver Gerell Robinson with the No. 1s on offense. In fact, Taylor only took several reps throughout all of practice. And it wasn't due to injury.

Following Tuesday's session, coach Dennis Erickson addressed the media.

"I'm going to have to suspend five or six of our players for an undisclosed thing," Erickson said. "It's nothing serious or anything like that. It's just they broke a team rule. It's a one game suspension … It hurts us a little bit. But fortunately we have enough depth to survive it. Any time something like that happens it's disturbing. But again, it's a one-game suspension."

ASUDevils.com then asked if he would name the others involved and Erickson responded, "I'm not going to talk about the others."

However, the notable absences didn't stop there.

Freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict wasn't practicing, nor was he even seen inside the bubble. A program source said ASU was choosing to not practice Burfict because it's unclear if a decision will be handed down on his eligibility prior to Saturday. The coaching staff, according to the source, wants practice reps to go to players it knows will be available.

Despite the ominous clouds of controversy covering the bubble, there was some other news to report.

Erickson announced senior running back Dimitri Nance would be the starter against Idaho State on Saturday, as will sophomore tight end Dan Knapp.

"[Nance] will take the first snap," Erickson said. "And Cameron Marshall -- we'll rotate him -- those are the first two we're going to deal with. Then from there, [Ryan] Bass would be the next guy."

Erickson also said sophomore Andrew Sampson is likely to start Saturday at right guard, though Erickson said Sampson's status will be determined by the health of sophomore backup center Garth Gerhart. Since Sampson is the team's third center, an unhealthy Gerhart could affect Erickson's decision to start Sampson.

Tuesday's top offensive line featured senior left tackle Shawn Lauvao, sophomore left guard Jon Hargis, senior center Thomas Altieri, Sampson and sophomore right tackle Matt Hustad.

As for the scout team, it featured some quality talent on both sides of the ball. Sophomore defensive end James Brooks, who is suspended for the initial three games because of an isolated incident, donned a gold jersey as did a couple of experienced Division I contributors on offense.

"It makes a big difference to have a guy like [sophomore quarterback Steven] Threet [run the scout team]," Erickson said. "And a guy like [junior wide receiver Aaron] Pflugrad who's played in the Pac-10 as a receiver -- that helps and makes a huge difference."

Threet started eight games for Michigan last year, while Pflugrad hauled in 23 receptions in 23 games for Oregon over the past two seasons. Both are sitting out this season due to NCAA-transfer rules.

Injury Update

Sophomore tackle Lawrence Guy suited up for the beginning of practice and received limited reps, but Erickson said he is still questionable for Saturday.

Sophomore Garth Gerhart (turf toe) was in full uniform as was junior right tackle Tom Njunge. Sophomore quarterback Samson Szakacsy (elbow) was also taking some reps Tuesday.

Sophomore linebacker Shelly Lyons, however, didn't suit up and had an ice pack wrapped around his right knee. Sophomore Matt Hustad had his left shoulder wrapped up after practice.


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