(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Redshirt sophomore Manny Wilkins will have a mere three days to get healthy for Saturday’s tilt with UCLA, casting some doubt over whether or not he will be able to go against the Bruins.
He injured his left leg after being brought down at a weird angle in Arizona State’s 41-20 loss at USC last Saturday. He didn’t return and was spotted on crutches late in the contest.
In practice Tuesday, Wilkins was suited up and even took part in the individual quarterback drills. He jogged with a limp and worked with his left ankle taped up.
The guy Wilkins beat out this fall, redshirt freshman Brady White, entered the game last week and saw the first live action of his collegiate career. He threw the ball 13 times in that game, completing six of those attempts, and led his first scoring drive, capped by his first career touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
From the perspective of his teammates, White looked pretty good in his first crack at the real thing.
“He did good,” junior wideout Jalen Harvey said. “At the same time, we didn’t quit, usually with a score like that [against USC] and the second-string quarterback coming in like that you know, probably everyone’s thinking it’s over. At the same time, with him as the quarterback we got points on the board. So at the same time I feel like we were in a groove even though we were losing.
“Yes, we were losing, but we weren’t in a panic mode because Brady was ready.”
Following Tuesday’s practice, Harvey and some of the other receivers on the team stayed after practice to throw with White.
“I feel like every quarterback, after practice, will get passes in,” Harvey said. “After practice today I just got more passes with him because I want to be more comfortable with him. That’s with every quarterback, even the third-string quarterbacks.”
White’s performance against USC came with limited notice; regardless, head coach Todd Graham still felt as though he was prepared.
In fact, its something Graham prides his team on – prepping all three of his quarterbacks as if they were going to play at some point each night.
“[We’ve got] great confidence [in White],” Graham said. “I talk to him every week about it, I talk to him and Dillon [Sterling-Cole], you’re one play from being in the game and I do think that he was prepared when he got into the game.”
Without Wilkins under center, the offense would lose an element in the running game. Between White and Wilkins, Wilkins is the abler runner of the two – he’s already carried the ball 63 times through five games for 254 yards and four touchdowns, giving him more carries than Kalen Ballage and more touchdowns than Demario Richard.
White, however, seems to be more than able to tuck and run if the need should arise.
“I think Brady’s a pretty good runner,” receiver Tim White said. “He’s deceiving at times and I think he’ll squeak out a couple of good runs and surprise a few people and keep guys on their toes for sure.”
Regardless, White and Wilkins still have their noticeable differences in the way they play.
White is known as more of a pocket passer, who likes to stay in the pocket and make throws downfield. His ability to hang in and make throws is also something that differentiates from Wilkins, who likes to get outside the pocket and extend plays with his feet.
“He sits in the pocket, throws,” Harvey said. “He’s patient, moves his head around to see who’s open.”
On Saturday, White was ready for his opportunity, so much so that Tim White didn’t notice much of a difference between the redshirt freshman and the injured Wilkins.
“He was poised,” Tim White said. “I really didn’t notice a difference as far as him coming in and executing the plays, you know, he was calm, he was just Brady, he didn’t get out there, he wasn’t shaking or anything. He was good, he was ready for that moment.”
Come Saturday, White might need to be ready for a different moment – his first collegiate start.
“My approach is just everyday I’m going to be preparing as if I’m the guy, as if I’ve been the guy,” Brady White said. “Football is a sport where there’s many things that can happen and you never know when your number is going to be called, so I always want to be ready whether it is my time or someone else is going.”
- Mo Chandler wore a green, non-contact jersey for Tuesday’s practice. He has yet to appear in a game this season.
- Manny Wilkins was suited up and took part in the individual quarterback drills. He had a noticeable limp and his left ankle was taped.