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Penalties, Penalties And More Penalties Sour Erickson's Mood

The Sun Devils won their game against Northern Arizona Saturday night, 41-20, I covered it for AP. Steven Threet had career highs in passes completed (33), attempted (49) and yards (391), and Mike Willie, who always carries around a ball like he was the Omar Epps character in "The Program," had eight catches for 114 yards and a TD.

Two things, however. NAU was in the game as late as the start of the fourth quarter, down by only seven, and the Devils committed 13 penalties for 131 yards.

The Sun Devils. Not the notorious Oakland Raiders when they used to punish with some dirty play. That did not sit well with coach Dennis Erickson.

On one NAU scoring drive in the third quarter, ASU committed two 15-yard personal-foul penalties (one on star linebacker Vontaze Burfict). Burfict picked up another such penalty in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Oliver was whistled for roughing the kicker in the second quarter. The penalties clearly irked the coach.

Erickson was asked about Burfict's physical style yet the need for him to control his emotions.

"Well, he won't play," Erickson said. "He's gotta do that or he won't play. We just can't afford to have that happen. As good a football player as he is we just can't afford to have that happen. I don't know exactly what happened...I gotta look at the tape and find out...I think there was a couple of those calls that were a little iffy, but we'll see."

Erickson got after his players in the locker room after the game about the penalties and said that bottom line, it's on him to fix them. 

"It's gonna cost us a game. It's going to end up costing us a football game," Erickson said. "When it costs us a football game, is that what it takes for us to learn? I certainly hope not."