November 13, 2008

Herring ready to build on Washington performance

It doesn't take much to excite Keegan Herring, so when he had a season-high 144 rushing yards on 22 carries at Washington last week, it definitely did the trick.

"It kind of felt like my freshman year out there again, running hard," Herring said.

The 5-foot-11, 204 pound senior suffered a hamstring strain less than a week before Arizona State opened the 2008 season. When he tried to come back against Stanford on Sept. 6, he re-aggravated the injury and didn't play again until the team's game against Cal on Oct. 4.

But Herring really didn't see a lot of opportunity to carry the ball until the game against the Huskies last Saturday, an opponent that has struggled with its run defense all season.

ASU's offensive line did a much better job run blocking against Washington than at any point in the last several months, and Herring took advantage.

"It felt good running behind them," Herring said. "I hope the offensive line just keeps on doing their thing and we keep running the rock.

"Holes were opening up that we didn't quite have (earlier) in the season."

After adding upwards of 10 pounds in the off-season, Herring said some teammates have begun facetiously calling him chunky.

"I've been trying to switch up my running style but not too much," Herring said. "I'm running downhill, more powerful than normal."

The Sun Devils should get a chance to continue building momentum in the ground game, as this week's opponent, Washington State, has the nation's worst run defense.

To Herring though, it's just another fleeting opportunity to do what he loves in the company of those he cherishes most.

"When I step on the field I feel that I'm out there with my family, and they're gonna take care of me the best way they can win or lose," Herring said.

Sliding over

Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson said redshirt freshman Garth Gerhart has adapted well to his switch from reserve center to first-string left guard following the season-ending injury to freshman Zach Schlink.

"It's amazing. Every center that's moved to another position is like, 'Wow, this is easy,' because they don't have to snap the ball," Erickson said. "'What do you mean I don't have to snap the ball? I can just block somebody?'

"Guard is easy to move to because everything you do is with the center."

Gerhart is likely to start for the first time in his career when ASU hosts he Cougars. He played a major role in the second half of last week's game against the Huskies after starting center Thomas Altieri suffered a stinger.

"I thought he did some good things," Erickson said. "He doesn't care where he plays, just so he plays."

Hometown Drought

After winning its first two games at home to start the season, the Sun Devils have dropped three straight at Sun Devil Stadium.

They haven't won in Tempe since Sept. 6.

"We owe our fans something," Erickson said. "We have to take it upon ourselves, in our home, to play better than we've played, particularly last time we were here."

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