Monday wasn't an easy day of answering questions for Arizona State football coach Dennis Erickson.
The Devils (1-3 in Pac-10, 3-4 overall) played by far their worst game of the season this past Saturday in a 50-17 loss to Cal. Their interception-prone quarterback suffered a concussion. Their offense was almost non-existent, their defense humbled and down a key player: linebacker Shelly Lyons will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot that will require surgery this week.
Oh yeah, one more thing: The piling on of Erickson has begun, as if some fans hadn't already questioned the coach's lack of recent success.
Quarterback Steven Threet played only a half and threw two interceptions, bringing his total to 13 against 11 touchdown passes in seven games. Threet has undergone tests and is expected to practice tomorrow, and Brock Osweiler will move back up to the backup spot ahead of Samson Szakacsy, who replaced Threet at Cal. Osweiler's back has been pronounced well enough to allow him to fully practice.
ASU hosts the Pac-10's last place team, Washington State, on Saturday for homecoming. It's appropriate. The Devils' last home game was Sept. 25, a loss to Oregon, and their past three games have been on the road.
Osweiler will run the second team in practice this week and get all the snaps with that unit. Asked if Threet's play warranted him looking into making a change at quarterback, Erickson didn't completely dismiss the idea.
"Yeah, maybe," Erickson said, "but Brock hasn't been playing enough to warrant looking into the position. He hasn't practiced for 2 1/2, three weeks...so he wouldn't be ready to go in and start right now. Obviously at that quarterback position, if it would continue to happen (Threet's mistakes) and Brock practiced well then you would consider looking at that, but right now, no."
The Devils will look at ways to take some pressure off of Threet so he doesn't have to make a decision on every play.
"To answer a couple of questions, Steven Threet gives our team the best chance to win the next five football games, and that's the most important thing to me," Erickson said. "If Brock gets healthy, we'll see as time goes on."
Erickson expressed disappointment in his team's play on defense. ASU didn't tackle well at Cal and the team's pride was hurt.
"We are not playing defense like we're capable of playing," he said. "We're not nearly as consistent as Coach (Trent) Bray wants us to be or I want us to be or our defensive football team wants us to be. It's the same thing. We give up three big plays in the second quarter...We're better than that and we've got to get that straightened out."
Does Erickson believe he can turn around his team's season? He thinks so. "If this happens to us five other times, then we've got some issues, but I don't see it happening right now."
The team's No. 1 goal is a bowl game, but to get to one, ASU must win four of its remaining five games, and three are against Top 25 teams.
"In the meantime, winning our fourth game is the goal that's in front of us. We can't worry about a bowl," Erickson said. "The good thing is we get to play at home, which is nice for a change."
As the PA announcer at WSU's Martin Stadium says when the Cougars run onto the field for games, "Here, come, the Cooouuuuuuuuuuuuugarrrrs!"
"I'm sure they're sitting back in Pullman, I would be, and if they watched our game against Cal, they're thinking, 'Wow, we can come in here and beat these guys," Erickson said.