Coach Dennis Erickson said he wouldn't use ASU's new indoor practice facility unless he absolutely had to.
Well, he had to Thursday night.
At 7:35 p.m., Tom Kleinlein, the director of operations for the ASU football team made the decision to move practice into the Devil Dome due to lightning, and by 7:40 p.m. the entire team was indoors carrying out business as usual.
"I won't come in here unless we have to," Erickson said. "When there's lightning, first of all, then we're in here. I don't want to take any chances
That's why it's here. It's a heck of a deal."
Although Erickson would like to use it sparingly, the players would like to be in climate-controlled facility as much as possible.
Before the relocation practice was somewhat lethargic, but once inside the players picked up their tempo and had greater enthusiasm.
"It was real cool being in here practicing for the first time, it had a fun feel to it," Kerry Taylor said. "Everyone was real energetic being in here. I like it a lot and I'm looking forward to being in here a lot more.
"We didn't think we were going to be in here until Saturday so coming in here today was a little surprise and we were all excited to come out here and test it out."
When entering the Devil Dome, you first have to walk through a sealed entryway designed to maintain a constant static environment inside the inflated dome; many players and several media members felt their ears pop from the pressure change when entering the vestibule.
Once inside the dome, the first thing you notice is the sheer enormity of it. It looks big from the outside, certainly, but once inside its size is far more impressive.
There are two fields, one 75 yards long with and end zone and another 45-yard field with its own end zone. The fields run perpendicular to each other.
In all, the Devil Dome is approximately 150 yards long, 80 yards wide and 65 feet tall. There was an immediate debate amongst several onlookers as to whether Sun Devil punters would be able to hit the top of the Dome with their punts. Thomas Weber said he thought he could kick a ball to the top, but that remains to be seen, as there was no punting in the dome Thursday.
Look down and you can't help but notice how nice the FieldTurf is -- ASU officials said it's the best money can buy.
After getting over the size of the dome, you realize how comfortable it is on the inside. Thursday night the temperate was 82 degrees and that's about where it will stay, an official said. Despite pouring rain outside, there was no humidity on the inside.
"I love it, this is ridiculous man," junior guard [sb]Shawn Lauvao[/db] said. "When I came in here I had my second wind. I can breath so much better in here."
An unintended benefit from practicing inside the dome is the noise coming from the air conditioning generators. Located on the west end behind the end zone of the 75-yard field, the two enormous units drown out most other noise on that end of the dome.
"[It's like] you're playing on the road," Erickson said of the noise from the generators. "I thought those airplanes were bad but [with the generators] you can't hear anything. It's good for them (the team). I stand behind them and try to hear the snap count and can hardly hear it."
The dome isn't quite complete yet; when it is, several goal posts which will hang from the ceiling and the maximum capacity will rise to 2,000 for camps and tailgating events. Until construction is complete and the building is officially turned over to Arizona State, only 200 people are allowed in the structure at a time, which is one of the reasons fans are not yet permitted inside during practices.
Defensively, there are still several first team positions that are seemingly up for grabs.
Saia Falahola was still taking first team next to David Smith at tackle Thursday, but there were two new players with the first group, with Ryan McFoy at weak-side linebacker and Pierre Singfield at cornerback opposite of Omar Bolden. Max Tabach took some first-team reps in place of Rodney Cox late in the workout.
"We're alternating those guys in there," Erickson said. "We've had some injuries and things. But [McFoy] is getting better and better. The biggest thing with Ryan is he's picking the game up, he's picking the position up. We all forget we didn't move him (from safety) until last fall. It's not like he's been there a lot. But when you watch him in practice he knows what he's doing. He runs to the football extremely well."
And of the cornerback battle, Erickson said, "Terell [Carr] has been hurt a little bit so they're kind of alternating in there. They're battling. That corner job is not settled by any means."
Nate Kimbrough will be out for a month for surgery on a broken bone near his eye socket a day after a weight room accident.
After getting off to an impressive start, Shelly Lyons suffered a sprained ankle Wednesday and was limited in practice on Thursday. Erickson said it isn't anything serious and that Lyons is day to day.
Brandon Smith suffered a minor pull in his right hamstring Wednesday and did not participate Thursday. Erickson said he should be back in four or five days.
Keegan Herring did not practice for the second straight day. On Tuesday he sprained his right shoulder, a nagging injury he has had at times throughout his career, but did not feel it until he was lifting weights on Wednesday. Herring wore a sling on Wednesday but not Thursday. He should return in several days.
There were updated rosters at Thursday's practice and a lot of guys have made significant changes to their weight.
Here are the most drastic: David Bertrand was 283, now he is 295. James Brooks was 284, now he is 270. Jonathan English was 304, now he is 292. Keegan Herring was 195, now he is 204. Matt Hustad was 275, now he is 287. Shaun Lauvao was 305, now he is 293. Andrew Pettes was 259, now he is 235. Jamarr Robinson was 233, now he is 242 David Smith was 288, now he is 277. Chasen Stangel was 209, now he is 193. Jovon Williams was 231, now he is 240. (True freshman and non-mid-year JUCO transfer weight changes not included because we don't believe they were accurate initially as ASU did not take those measurements.)
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