Arizona Sportspage

September 9, 2009 8:56 PM

ASU Busy During Off Week

The Arizona State University Sun Devils, fresh off a dominating 50-3 win over the Idaho State Bengals Sept. 6 at Sun Devils Stadium, have one week off, but it doesn't things have slowed down.

Against the Bengals, the Sun Devils' defense was dominant, holding the Bengals to just 37 yards of total offense. Idaho State was also coaxed into committing four turnovers. Now the recognition is coming. Sun Devils senior linebacker Mike Nixon earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Against the Bengals, Nixon was one of the best players on the field. He made plays in pass coverage and against the run. He had three interceptions and a blocked punt against Idaho State, helping the Sun Devils to a 1-0 record to begin the season.

Nixon wasn't the only player drawing attention this week. Freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict had the radio waves burning and people talking after his impressive debut. Burfict, the highest rated recruit in ASU history, recorded a sack a pressure and a fumble recovery. He showed an ability to cover the field, make plays and deliver hard hits.

"He runs well for his size, but he's got that burst on contact that not a lot of people have. And it's kind of a natural thing," Nixon told The Arizona Republic.

Sun Devils shuffling offensive line: The Sun Devils' offense was shaky early in the season opener. With a week off, ASU head coach Dennis Erickson has decided to experiement with different combinations on the offensive line, reports. Matt Hustad has moved from right tackle to right guard. Tom Njunge has filled Hustad's vacated spot at right tackle.

"Njunge played pretty well [Saturday]," Erickson said. "We're just trying to find the best five guys to get them on the field, so we moved Hustad there today and tomorrow because we have the bye week. Now would we have done that if we were playing Saturday? Probably not. But we want to take a look at Hustad [at right guard] to see where we're at."

The Sun Devils may have to find another center after Garth Gerhart missed practice Tuesday due to a toe injury he suffered against Idaho State. The toe could keep him out of the Sun Devils' Sept. 19 match up with Lousiana-Monroe at Sun Devils Stadium. Thomas Altieri would move into the starting spot, in Gerhart's absense.

Smith cleared to play: ASU freshman defensive end Greg Smith was cleared to play Tuesday by the NCAA Eligibility Center. However, he is expected to red-shirt this year. He is known as a speed rusher who thrives on his quickness and nose for the ball. The only signees not to qualify were offensive lineman Fred Thornton and athlete Kipeli Konseti. Tailback Marcus Washington is grayshirting and expected to enroll next semester.

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