Although there will be more important and valuable casualties in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Arizona State’s football game at Louisiana State in less than two weeks has not yet been affected.
ASU spokesman Mark Brand said on Sunday that he has not heard of any communication from LSU regarding contingency plans for the Sept. 10 game.
"I think we will know more in the next 24 to 36 hours," Brand said.
Katrina, a Category 5 storm carrying 160-mph winds, slammed into the southern Louisiana coast this morning.
"I hope for the best that it can possibly turn out for the people who live there," Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter said on Sunday. "Football is pretty unimportant compared to the damage they are talking about."
The potential damage to New Orleans — which sits below sea level — has been described as "catastrophic" by some forecasters.
LSU is in Baton Rouge, which is about 70 miles from New Orleans. Classes there today have been canceled.
Should the game need to be rescheduled, it could be a headache, as the teams have no mutual open dates through November. A shift to Dec. 3 is likely not an option because the SEC championship game is that day.
The Tigers are slated to play at Sun Devil Stadium in 2008, so the schools could simply switch home dates.
"There’s part of me that wouldn’t mind that," Koetter said. "But then you get into the issue of whether LSU will be able to fly out here."
Cornerback R.J. Oliver is still hampered by a sore quadriceps muscle and is doubtful for Thursday’s season opener against Temple.
"R.J. is not where we need him to be," Koetter said. "We need him for the long haul."
Defensive end Kyle Caldwell, who has been out resting the left knee that underwent surgery in May, practiced on Sunday.
Freshman running back Shaun DeWitty, who suffered a strained left knee at Camp Tontozona, is "getting close," Koetter said.
"Shaun does a lot of drills running straight ahead, but he is still having a hard time cutting," Koetter said.
Only two true freshmen are currently locks to play this year, running back Keegan Herring and linebacker Chad Lindsey. The rest will likely redshirt.
"With the kind of team we have, I think it’s pretty well cut in stone that unless we have a major wipeout in injuries at some position, almost all of our (true) freshmen will redshirt," Koetter said.
That includes prize recruit quarterback Derek Shaw. It is possible that DeWitty could play when he gets at 100 percent because the coaches feel he is capable of contributing on special teams.
Koetter said that a combination of receiver Stephen Bisnett and defensive backs Josh Barrett, Chad Green and Keno Walter-White will serve as puntteam gunners, a position that he has watched all camp.
The Sun Devils desperately want to improve on last year’s average of 18.5 yards allowed per punt return, which ranked 114th in the nation.
"I’m feeling solid about our first group on the punt, although it’s hard to simulate against scout team," Koetter said. "We need a game to see where we are at, but we’ll have some guys out there who are untested."