Before the season, Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter was asked about the benefits of having a deep corps of receivers.
"The advantage is that you know injuries are coming," Koetter said back then.
"When a guy is going to miss a couple days, we plug another guy in and do not miss a beat. I’ve been on teams in the past where you had to change everything around in practice. Here, the next guy steps up."
Injuries have hit the Sun Devil pass catchers, but others have stepped up. ASU will likely be minus two starters — wide receiver Terry Richardson (shoulder) and tight end Zach Miller (ankle) — against Northwestern on Saturday, but the offense does not expect to be hindered.
Senior Matt Miller figures to start at Richardson’s spot, and junior Jamaal Lewis, whose three touchdown catches lead the team, is the likely choice at tight end.
In the first two games, 13 different players have a reception for ASU, and six have had a touchdown catch. The only non-receiver to catch a ball has been tailback Rudy Burgess.
"There’s not going to be a difference, because we have such great depth," quarterback Sam Keller said. "Zach will be back and so will Terry, whether it’s this week or next. We’ll be fine. We’ll be ready."
The plays made by ASU’s other receivers have kept opposing defenses from focusing solely on Derek Hagan, a preseason All-American.
"The double teams are coming around, but when guys step up and make plays, those double teams become single teams," Hagan said. "One corner just starts to cover me, and that opens things up for me."
Hagan, who has a teamhigh 10 receptions for 148 yards and two TDs, has been invited to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in January.
Zach Miller, no longer wearing a walking boot, rode a stationary bike during practice on Thursday, as did rush end Kyle Caldwell (quadriceps). Running backs Randy Hill (ankle) and Preston Jones and cornerback Chad Green did not work out.
Tailback Rudy Burgess, who missed much of Wednesday’s practice with back pain, practiced. Cornerback R.J. Oliver, who has been limited since camp with a sore quadriceps muscle, participated on the scout team.
ASU expects a ruling from the NCAA on defensive lineman DeWayne Hollyfield’s eligibility today. Hollyfield has missed the first two games due to an academic matter.
"We should know by noon if DeWayne will be a go on Saturday," Koetter said on his weekly radio show on Thursday. . . .
Koetter said that seven plays — including LSU’s game-winning TD — from last week’s game were reviewed by the Pac-10 replay official. The field referee is not required to make an announcement that a reviewed call stands.