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October 20, 2009

Sullivan heading home after best college effort

Despite all the criticism and all the doubts, it feels good to be Danny Sullivan right about now.

Not only is the Arizona State senior quarterback coming off of his finest collegiate performance, but he's about to head back home to play in front of about 200 family and friends Saturday at Stanford.

"[After] everything that happened in that Oregon State game, I got a little justice," Sullivan said of Saturday's dramatic 24-17 win over Washington. "I have no words to describe my emotions after that."

With 13 seconds left and the ball on the 50-yard line, ASU's goal was originally to try and convert a 20-yard pass to get into junior kicker Thomas Weber's range. Despite Weber's 1-for-3 outing up to that point, ASU coach Dennis Erickson still had confidence in the All-American. Not like it mattered, though, as UW's blown coverage led to the easy score.

While Sullivan's pass to senior wide receiver Chris McGaha has roughly 15,000 views on YouTube, none of them came from Sullivan.

"I don't need YouTube," he said. "I've replayed it over and over in my mind. Pretty insane."

Last Saturday marked the first time Sullivan beat a legit opponent in Tempe. It appears his job security is better than it's been in recent weeks, as he finished 21-of-35 for 263 yards and the touchdown.

"I still feel like there's a little bit of a monkey [on my back]," Sullivan said. "Because I'm sure someone will say, 'Oh it's only one game,' or whatnot. But, in my mind, the monkey's off my back."

With the help of some new blood and some new wrinkles, the ASU offense looked a bit more exciting. It came as no mistake, as Erickson said he tried to add some misdirection plays and stay away from the play-calling tendencies he's showed so far this season.

Erickson also inserted freshman Jamal Miles into the fold, who made a couple of nice plays on bubble screens throughout the evening.

"He's, to me, a guy that's a game-breaker," Erickson said. "He's got unusual speed and shiftiness … We've got to continue to get him involved in our offense."

Sophomore quarterback Samson Szakacsy also went in between the lines for the first time of his career Saturday, executing an option play for a short gain. Though it was only for snap, Sullivan said it was nice to finally see Szakacsy conquer his injury woes and strap on his helmet for real.

"I'm so proud for Samson," Sullivan said. "He's worked so hard, even though he's dealt with his arm injuries. Then to go out to get [hit] helmet-to-helmet. He was shocked by it because that was his first hit. He didn't know what to expect. But my emotion is, I love that kid. Good things are going to happen to him."

Sullivan's command of the offense, especially in the first half, also meant freshman Brock Osweiler didn't see the field. The Sun Devils never went 3-and-out before halftime but stalled on back-to-back possessions near the break between the third and fourth quarters.

ASU committed eight penalties in the first half, totaling 84 yards. Freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict accounted for 45 of those yards, committing three personal fouls. Erickson said he addressed the penalty problem at halftime.

"I mentioned it very lightly," Erickson said tongue-in-cheek. "I was very, low-key, I guess you could say. I don't think anybody recorded it, but you never know with all those YouTubes, MySpace, outer space, all that stuff they have."

The Sun Devils' sole penalty of the second half was an unsportsmanlike conduct call, whistled after the game-winning touchdown.

Injury Update

Erickson said senior running back Dimitri Nance sprained his knee, but said he doesn't "see that being a problem [for Stanford]."

Erickson said he expects sophomore offensive lineman Matt Hustad to be able to return after spraining his medial collateral ligament at Georgia on Sept. 26.

Junior cornerback Omar Bolden is questionable and Erickson called his MCL sprain "severe." Sophomore offensive lineman Garth Gerhart is also questionable.

Sophomore guard Zach Schlink is not expected to be ready for Stanford.


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