(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
In a manner that has come to be expected, Todd Graham didn’t focus too much on what had already happened in his Monday press conference.
He did mention Kalen Ballage and his eight touchdown night on Saturday, but for the bulk of the questions he fielded, he answered in a forward-looking tone.
“The reality is what he [Ballage] said [on Saturday], we’re 2-0,” Graham said. “It was a nice win, go to the next one.”
Heading into Arizona State’s week three road bout with the University of Texas San Antonio, Graham will have his eyes on the secondary with the expectation that he will see continued growth.
At this point, he is happy with how the secondary played and feels that if they buckle down on a few adjustments, they could continue to make meaningful strides.
“I thought we did what we needed to do,” Graham said. “Their [Texas Tech] quarterback was never in rhythm, I thought we did some things to get him off that. We gave up a check-down, their running back was really good, I thought the quarterback and then him and the wide receivers, obviously they scored a lot of points but we gave up 28 uncontested points where we blew coverages and things like that.”
In Graham’s mind, most, if not all, of the deficiencies shown against Texas Tech were things that can and will be corrected moving forward.
That correction will be a gradual process, likely depending on when key defensive players such as Laiu Moeakiola, Christian Sam and Salamo Fiso make their returns to the field.
Graham is hoping that the defense will be back at full strength before conference play starts against Cal on Sept. 24.
“Salamo Fiso is really, really important to our system and what we’re doing,” Graham said. “We have critical errors that happen due to miscommunications that it’s been touch not having him and not having Laiu at full strength, that’s our two most experienced communicators, but you know what, our guys have stepped up and done a great job.
“We’re hoping to have him [Laiu] back in full force, but we’re also trying to be very smart too because, you know, all of these games are important, but conference play is the most important. So we want to make sure we’re smart and we can get them back healthy before we put too much on them.”
This season, the Sun Devil coaching staff has implemented player GPS during games to keep track of how far players are running during games in an effort to limit injury.
With a device installed inside of a player’s shoulder pads, coaches can keep track of how many miles a given player is running during a game. Graham hopes this new system will keep players healthy late in the season.
“It [player GPS] helps you in how you’re training and how you’re practicing and knowing when to kind of adjust those things,” Graham said. “It’s something that’s been very vital to us, to be able to use to be able to make sure that we keep guys fresh and helps us in the recovery process.”
As far as progression and maturation goes, Graham feels as though his inexperienced players have already shown a ton of growth over the course of the first two games.
Going into UTSA, he feels as though his team is just scratching the surface in terms of how effective they can be.
“We’ve got a great system there [on offense] in place as well as we’ve got confidence,” Graham said. “We’re 60 percent of the way there as a football team, there’s 40 percent out there that we can improve on and so we’re only halfway there in my opinion.”