Erickson: No extra emotion for Beavers matchup

TEMPE, Ariz. &

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said there will be no extra emotion when his Sun Devils open Pac-10 play Saturday night against Oregon State.

Erickson was the coach at Oregon State for four years, resurrecting a long-dormant program in a tenure that ended with an 11-1 2002 season and a 41-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

At his weekly Monday session with reporters, Erickson said he felt some nostalgia a year ago, when he took his Idaho team to Corvallis to face Oregon State.

"I've been gone this will be my fifth year," Erickson said. "Mike has been there for five. I enjoyed my time there, it was a lot of fun. We accomplished some things, but it's really no different than any other game anymore."

Arizona State is the third Pac-10 team Erickson has coached, and so far, so good. The Sun Devils are 3-0 in nonconference action, although the quality of opponent has not been stellar. The Sun Devils have outscored San Jose State, Colorado and San Diego State by a combined score of 112-30.

"We've gotten better as a football team, from the first game through the third game," Erickson said. "We're executing much better on both sides of the football. Where we are in the Pac-10, I've said this before, I don't know."

The Sun Devil players know better than to get carried away with a 3-0 start. They were 3-0 last year but finished 7-6, a record that led to the firing of coach Dirk Koetter.

"The biggest difference between this year and last year is we were 3-0, but we weren't playing very good on either side of the ball," quarterback Rudy Carpenter said. "This year I think we've played well on defense and on offense to a certain extent."

The new coach praised the attitude of his players.

"I like our team," Erickson said. "The work ethic has been great. They've done everything that we've asked. They play hard, and you can't ask for more than that."

The Sun Devils are hoping for the return of running back Ryan Torain and tight end Brent Miller. Torain missed the San Diego State game with an ankle injury and Miller with a sore knee.

In Torain's absence, Keegan Herring rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday's 34-13 victory over San Diego State. The two backs are a nice contrast in styles, Erickson said.

"Ryan's big and hits it up in there, and Keegan is so shifty," the coach said. "He comes out of places that amaze me sometimes. It looks like he's caught for a two-yard loss or a three-yard gain, then all of a sudden he breaks out of the pack and there he goes."

Oregon State (2-1) opened the season with a 24-7 victory over Utah, a team that stunned UCLA 44-6 on Saturday. The Beavers lost 34-3 at Cincinnati the following week, then routed Idaho 61-10 last Saturday.

A year ago, the Sun Devils lost 44-10 at Oregon State, a game that helped seal Koetter's fate.

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