(Photo: Lindsey Nelson/WCSN)
It is becoming second nature for head coach Todd Graham to immediately delve into the health status of Taylor Kelly. Though little has changed with Graham’s rhetoric, the health of Kelly will remain the elephant in the room until he is seen in game action.
“I expect Taylor to take the majority of the snaps, but I do expect Bercovici to play in certain situations,” said Graham in regards to Saturday’s matchup against Washington. “We’ve got both of them ready. Like I’ve said before, Mike Bercovici’s been incredible, but this is Taylor Kelly’s team.”
Graham joked and admitted he was fibbing on some occasions during the post-practice interview as to whether or not his mind was made up on which quarterback will start under center. Presumably, these double-meaning, semi-sarcastic statements are to force the Huskies to game plan differently for a different quarterback.
At the same time, Graham did provide a ringing endorsement of Kelly’s daily progress when he stated, “I expect him to be back. You’ve seen him out here, totally different than last week.”
Thursday’s session concluded another week’s worth of practices, and the Sun Devil football team now prepares for tomorrow’s trip from the 90-degree Arizona dry heat to the 50-degree showers of Seattle.
Preparing for Washington
While Arizona State’s quarterback questions appear to be clearing up as Saturday approaches, Washington’s remain murky.
Sophomore Cyler Miles, Washington’s starting quarterback, was removed from last week’s contest against Oregon after his head was driven into the ground and consequently developed concussion-like symptoms.
As of now, Miles has not been cleared to play in Saturday’s contest. Though he is expected to receive medical clearance by game time, redshirt freshman Troy Williams will be in line for his first career start if Miles fails concussion protocol.
Regardless, Graham and the Sun Devil defense are preparing for the scheme rather than the player.
“I believe that their quarterback will play,” Graham said. “What I do is prepare for the best and if it’s not them then good for us. Their backup, we actually recruited him. He’s a really good athlete.”
“One of the big challenges this week is the read zone, the quarterback extending plays and their ability to make big plays with him,” Graham continued. “Wide receiver screens, reverses, it’s all about the explosives this week and no cheap ones.”
ASU has survived the brunt of its schedule, as a 2-1 record against three ranked California schools is monumental in the conference standings picture. But such momentum always yields the possibility of a letdown performance.
As is so often the case, the issue only arises when the possibility is not openly addressed. Graham concluded the post-practice interview session with a resounding message that his team acknowledges the challenges that each Pac-12 team poses and that his team will be just as prepared as they have been the past three weeks.
“There’s a lot of factors that come in,” Graham said, “But our main message has been focus and control the things you can control…We strain and train our guys. What’s nice is that I can get to this time of year, and really 75 percent of the way through the year, and we’re continuing to get better. That’s the teams that win championships.
“They’ve matured quite a bit, but this is a big challenge. [We’re] going on the road to Washington to, playing a very well-coached football team, but we had the best week of practice we’ve had this year,” Graham said.
- Practice was open to the media for approximately 15 minutes on Thursday and only special teams’ drills were being conducted. Hence, there is was no first-team defense to document.
- SPUR linebacker Laiu Moeakiola remained in a green no-contact jersey. His status for Saturday’s game is not in jeopardy, however.
- De’Marieya Nelson shed his green no-contact jersey and was practicing at full speed.