August 31, 2008

Notebook: Taylor has huge first quarter

As a true freshman in 2007, Kerry Taylor only totaled 53 receiving yards and one touchdown in 13 games.

Just 2:08 into the 2008 season, Taylor had tied his 2007 touchdown mark and came within one yard of that season's receiving total. He passed his receiving yards mark later in the first quarter.

Taylor finished Saturday's game second on the team in receptions and receiving yards with four catches for 93 yards; the sophomore credited his summer work habits for the improvement.

"A lot of hard work in the off-season really paid off for me," Taylor said after the game. "I'm pretty happy with the performance."

And others took notice of Taylor's effort over the summer too.

On ASU media day several weeks ago, Rudy Carpenter singled Taylor out as being the hardest worker in the off-season.

But Taylor knows that his performance against Northern Arizona won't be enough to keep him in the mix if he does not continue to improve.

Taylor said the ASU receiving corps is so deep and talented that anyone can step up and earn playing time.

"There's always things you need to work on so I just have to keep picking it up and just get ready for next week," Taylor said. "We have so many guys at receiver that can go out there and play. So when you go out there and get your reps, you know, you really have to make the most of it because anybody can go out there and make plays."

Vanilla

Throughout fall camp, the Sun Devils have taken strides towards diversifying what many people called a very "vanilla" offense and defense last year.

While ASU has implemented nuances to the offense such as many different types of screens and various zone blitzes defensively, none were on display Saturday against NAU.

The only different look offensively for the Sun Devils was beginning several plays with an empty backfield.

And the new looked worked well.

ASU's only passing touchdown, a 52-yarder from Carpenter to Taylor, came from an empty backfield set.

Headline?

Last season, Mike Jones got into the end zone more than any other Sun Devil.

And although the senior wide receiver from Sugar Land, Texas, was scoreless Saturday, he had two good chances and came up just short both times.

Early in the second half, Jones caught a pass from Carpenter and raced 52 yards down the middle of the field before having the ball knocked loose at the 1-yard line by NAU's K.J. Gerard.

The Lumberjacks recovered the ball in the end zone, earning them a touchback.

Then, less than a minute later on the first play of ASU's next drive, Jones caught a 49-yard strike from Carpneter and if he had chosen another lane to run through he most likely would have ended up in the end zone.

First taste

22 Sun Devils, including eight true freshmen (Clint Floyd, Brandon Magee, Shelly Lyons, Lawrence Guy, Josh Jordan, Gerell Robinson, Ryan Bass and Thomas Ohmart) and five redshirt freshmen, got their first taste of big-time college football Saturday.

Quick hits

Carpenter's touchdown pass to Taylor was the 66th of his career, putting him second on ASU's all-time list. Andrew Walter is atop the list with 85.

The ASU offense generated 333 of its 481 total yards in the first half.

Ryan McFoy started at weak-side linebacker over Mike Nixon. Both saw quite a bit of action and Nixon led the Sun Devils with six sacks.

Pierre Singfield got the start at the cornerback slot opposite of Omar Bolden over Terell Carr and Josh Jordan. Jordan was the first-team nickelback.

Although Keegan Herring (hamstring) did not participate, Erickson said Herring could have played if the team really needed him. Erickson said keeping Herring out was simply a precaution.

Saturday night's paid attendance was 62,707.

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