(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
With a short week of practice coming to a close, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is looking to quell any worries of failed expectations despite a number of injured impact players. Graham still expects his team to get better this week, and a great test is ahead of them as they face New Mexico for the second consecutive season.
“We obviously have not played to our potential,” Graham said. “We’ve got to get that going and that’s everybody doing their job and doing it at the best of their ability.”
Of the many players in no-contact green jerseys for ASU, the most notable is sophomore safety Armand Perry. Perry was still on crutches Wednesday, and was the only member of the green-jersey platoon not participating in warm-ups.
Another notable defensive player in green was junior defensive tackle Villami Latu–critical because that detracts a body from ASU’s three-man rotation at the position.
On the other side of the ball, redshirt junior running back De’Chavon Hayes was in green, as well as redshirt junior wide receiver Frederick Gammage.
Sophomore running back Kalen Ballage was in attendance at Wednesday’s session and stretched with the team, but watched the first-team session from the sidelines as expected.
Despite all the injuries on the offensive side, redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici says they haven’t been held back in any facet.
“I don’t think it’s limited us,” Bercovici said. “You’ve got DJ (Foster), Tim (White), Ellis (Jefferson), I mean the names go on and on and on. Especially with Demario how he’s been doing a great job in protection in the backfield as well. It’s just going to be exciting to see guys develop as weeks go on.”
Striving to Click on All Cylinders
While there’s a worse way to start off the season, 1-1 can be considered a disappointment for what was the 15th-best team in the country to start the season. With this week’s matchup against New Mexico being the final game before heading into conference play, it is indeed a crucial one.
“It’s important that we get everything hitting on all cylinders, and obviously we haven’t done that to this point” Graham said. “Our deal is just to be 1-0 every week.”
Especially with all the injuries to key players in mind, it’s important to find guys that are capable of being in the system when it’s at its best.
“We’ve got guys moving around, moving parts, so it’s going to be fun to see how they can make some explosive plays out there on Friday night,” Graham said.
One of those parts to keep an eye on come Friday will come at the free safety position, with Armand Perry unable to play. Graham jokingly mentioned he would consider strapping up to play, but later gave his options in Chad Adams, James Johnson or Kareem Orr.
Whoever is on the field on Friday, Graham thinks the amount of explosive plays his team makes is going to be crucial in playing to the best of their capability.
“We should be a lot more explosive than what we are,” Graham said. “The key to winning games… it’s because you had a lot of explosive plays–and in our conference it’s a real big indicator.”
Yet at the end of the day, it’s fundamentally how you match up with your opponent. The Sun Devils beat New Mexico with ease a season ago, but after seeing how the defense matched up with a triple option in week two, this year’s game could be more interesting.
“They’re a great team,” Bercovici said. “They were a great opponent last year for us. They’re a very explosive defense; they’re dynamic offensively; they do some really good things with the option that we’re excited about. It’s just going to be fun to back out there.”