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September 29, 2009

Sun Devils work to move past Georgia loss

It's funny how the game can change one's perception of things.

Take Arizona State senior quarterback Danny Sullivan, for example. As the rain pounded the grass between the hedges on Saturday, he felt different. The ball felt 20 pound heavier in his hands. He felt heavier; His feet, an extra 30 pounds each.

Following his team's harrowing 20-17 loss, time was also playing tricks on Sullivan.

"[The plane ride back] was long," Sullivan said. "I kept thinking that we were only twenty minutes away, but it was like 'Oh no we're two hours.' I tried sleeping but it didn't work out. We were still talking, having a good time because we played our hearts out in a tough environment against a good SEC team. We're proud of what we did and we'll take it in stride."

It certainly went better than last year's 27-10 loss at home to Georgia, but ASU coach Dennis Erickson still wasn't pleased. Saturday provided no moral victories in his eyes.

"We lost," Erickson said. "That's the bottom line as far as I'm concerned … We had a chance to win that football game. We weren't going down there with the idea to do anything but win that football game … But as far as I'm concerned that game's behind us. We learned something from it but it makes no difference now."

Starting this week, the Sun Devils will run the gauntlet of all nine Pac-10 Conference foes in nine weeks. Up first is a home date against Oregon State, which will look to rebound after losing to Arizona 37-32 on Saturday.

When the ASU offense trots out to start the game, it will certainly feature a different front than was featured to start against Georgia. As has been the case since training camp, the offensive line got beat up and suffered some injuries Saturday.

Unfortunately for ASU, sophomore Matt Hustad had to leave Saturday's game in the second quarter with an injured knee ligament and will be out for Oregon State. It's just another sad turn of events for the injury-riddled Hustad. Sophomore Zach Schlink is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery and was declared out for Oregon State as well.

At one point, Sullivan was being protected by a makeshift offensive line that featured just one opening day starter. While senior left tackle Shawn Lauvao was in his usual spot, he was joined by Brent Good at left guard, Andrew Sampson at center, Mike Marcisz at right guard and Tom Njunge at right tackle.

"I've talked about being confident in all those guys," Sullivan said. "But I wasn't expecting to have three [reserves] all at once in there."

Aside from Hustad, starting senior center Thomas Altieri sprained his medial collateral ligament and is questionable for Saturday while junior left guard Jon Hargis' shoulder dislocated itself on multiple occasions. Erickson is hoping to have sophomore center Garth Gerhart available for the upcoming weekend but guard Zach Schlink is still at least another week away.

Listening to Sullivan on Monday, it seemed as though he left Georgia with a little bit of guilt in his system. While the defense kept an explosive Georgia offense in check for the most part, the ASU offense couldn't get over the hump.

Much of the offensive futility had to do with dropped passes, something that was magnified on ASU's final possession. Bobby Wenzig's blocked field goal from 38 yards out was preceded by a pair of incompletions, the second of which was a drop from Kyle Williams that surely would have resulted in a first down.

"Dropped passes come in a various forms," Sullivan said. "But from my perspective, it's got to be focus. The wide receivers aren't very happy. They took it hard but I told them, 'Listen, it's one game. Don't let it get to you.'"


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