(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
ASU’s spring practice continued today as the Sun Devils held their fourth spring practice at Kajikawa Practice Fields. During the half and hour media availability, the players participated in individual position drills, stretching, ball security and tempo.
Running Back Battle
The biggest story line of the 2017-2018 football season is the quarterback battle. In its own way, the running back position is just as competitive.
ASU football is returning seniors Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage. Choosing a starter could be a dilemma because both backs bring great quality and skill to the table.
The Sun Devils also have redshirt sophomore Nick Ralston returning, who rushed for over 6,000 yards and 94 touchdowns between his sophomore and junior seasons in high school.
Unlike most teams, the duo poses a unique threat and provides depth at the running back position.
“We give the defense a different look,” Ballage said. “ We both have different running styles but I feel like we feed off each other and it’s a great opportunity to give the defense a different look.”
Richard mentioned that the duo could potentially be a handful.
“We bring to different running styles and it’s hard for teams to adjust to that,” Richard said. “You have me coming in real strong and the you have him (Ballage) that can just bust off a big play right after that. I’m just blessed to have him in the background with me.”
Last season, Richard rushed for 593 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry, which was his lowest since he has been a Sun Devil. The junior back has shown power running potential, as in his sophomore year he rushed for over 1,000 yards.
Richard’s running mate, Ballage rushed for 536 yards and 14 touchdowns. Ballage was explosive catching the ball, accumulating 469 receiving yards and averaged 10.7 receiving yards after the catch.
Both running backs see themselves as number one options.
“We both know that we are starters,” Ballage said. “We compete just because we are competitors not necessarily because we are going for that number one spot.”
One thing is for sure, with so much talent at the running back position it brings the best out of them two.
“There is no number one spot,” Richard said. “There’s been a competitive nature since day once, since we have walked on campus together. I know everyday I have to bring it because if I don’t bring it he will harp on me for not bring it. A lot of people don’t have what we have, in the Pac-12 or the SEC.”
Running backs coach John Simon mentioned that there isn’t a downside to having two talented back like Ballage or Richard.
“We have power and speed,” Simon said. “We feel really good about our core and depth at the running back position. There are not any disadvantages to having three or four backs that can play and that can change the scoreboard for you. We are in a pretty good situation.”
Players in green: (non-contact jersey)
- (QB) Bryce Perkins
- (OL) Cade Cote
- (CB) Kareem Orr
- (S) Marcus Ball
All players participated in individual drills.
Players sidelined due to injury:
- (QB, foot) Brady White – Out
- (DL, surgery) Jalen Bates – Limited
- (LB, arm)-Drew McIntyre – Out
- (S, surgery) Armand Perry – Out
Next practice is set for Wednesday March 22.