(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Four weeks have come and gone at the Kajikawa practice fields and still, just as many questions remain for head coach Todd Graham.
Injuries continue to mount as more and more green jerseys have popped up on “Muscle Beach,” where players who are being held out of practice do subtle work. With many starters still to be replaced, first and second team designations look erratic.
However, these conditions are to be expected, and Graham is still happy about where his team is at.
“There’s a lot of inexperience at key positions,” Graham said. “I like where we’re at, I think we’ve made solid progress.”
This week, there were a few notable takeaways from the media-accessible portion of the practices.
Quarterback is still a dead heat
To no one’s surprise, the quarterback race is still too close to call.
In the opening scrimmage portion, Bryce Perkins took the reigns under center for the first drive of the day and showcased his mobility.
Perkins tucked and ran twice and picked up sizable chunks of yardage each attempt, then turned around and tossed a 15-yard touch pass to a dragging receiver on what looked to be a designed bootleg.
With Perkins, his athletic ability has the capability to keep the defense on its toes. If the arm can follow suit, he’ll be poised to make a competitive case for the starting spot.
Manny Wilkins, who took over on the next drive, looked capable both running and throwing the ball. In today’s scrimmage, however, nothing notable jumped out on the Wilkins-led drive.
Brady White, however, was a different story.
White, when he was able to get rid of the ball, showed accuracy and touch on all of his passes, including a back-shoulder throw to a receiver who was well-covered for a 30-yard touchdown.
Between White, Perkins and Wilkins, each have different traits that set them apart. The race could come down to a photo-finish between the three in August, and it will all depend on what type of skillset Graham and offense coordinator Chip Lindsey value more.
Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage are young and able
First-year running back’s coach John Simon has already taken notice – Richard and Ballage mean business.
“They’re the leaders of our group, but they’re sophomores in their third (or) fourth semester of college,” Simon said. “I’ve been impressed with their leadership, their commitment to excellence, they want to be great.”
Last season, Richard and Ballage combined to rush for 1,757 yards on 335 carries.
This season, they will repeat their role as the one-two punch in the backfield and their numbers can be expected to see another boost.
According to Simon, their reps will be divided depending on the game plan on any given week. He said he is confident that both backs have the makeup of feature backs.
Laiu Moeakiola will be moving to free safety starting in fall camp, according to Graham.
Moeakiola played in 12 games last season, all at SPUR linebacker, amassing 51 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.
“Laiu is just such a smart player,” Graham said. “We need experience back there with that group.”
The switch will likely thrust Kareem Orr into the cornerback position in order to ensure the Sun Devils don’t have to rely on inexperience at both positions.
You can contact Colton Dodgson via e-mail or on Twitter @DodgsonColton