(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Arizona State’s 41-20 loss at USC this past Saturday was a tough pill to swallow for head coach Todd Graham and his staff.
To make matters worse moving forward, Graham admitted Monday that starting quarterback Manny Wilkins’ status for this weekend is still up in the air.
Wilkins, who sustained an injury in the second quarter of ASU’s game against USC, has shed his walking boot, but still isn’t where he would need to be if he were called upon to start this weekend against UCLA.
Graham did mention that the injury isn’t anything too serious, but didn’t commit to Wilkins being back under center immediately.
“I don’t know yet,” Graham said of Wilkins availability for Saturday. “The good thing is that it’s not going to be for an extended period of time. We’ll see. The good news is it wasn’t anything significant.”
Should Wilkins miss this weekend’s contest, redshirt freshman Brady White would be in line to make the first start of his collegiate career. White took over for the injured Wilkins at the Coliseum on Saturday, taking the first live snaps of his career in the second quarter.
Despite not leading a scoring drive until the fourth quarter, White threw the ball 13 times, completing six attempts for 80 yards and a touchdown to tight end Raymond Epps.
Graham says he has confidence in White and has been encouraged by the steps he’s taken this season.
“I’ve talked to him every week about it. I’ve talked to him and Dylan [Sterling-Cole] and all of those guys. I mean, you’re one play from being in the game,” Graham said.
“I do think that he was prepared when he got in the game. It’s tough in those games because each quarterback is different, so you want to adapt to the strengths of each one of them. But I thought he did a really nice job. He’s a guy that watches a ton of film, he’s very dependable, high character, very smart.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Against the UCLA secondary, however, Graham admitted that the offense, the quarterback position in particular, will have their work cut out for them.
“I like their [UCLA’s] corners,” Graham said. “Their corners are very physical, you know, they do a good job. They’re a team that (is) going to play a lot of man free and they do a good job. Coach [Tom] Bradley, (I’ve) known him since I was a Pitt, and he does a really good job with their defense.”
In Graham’s tenure, the Sun Devils have fared well following losses. The challenge this time around, however, will prove to be an even bigger test should they need to acclimate to a new quarterback.
“I think it’s not something you do that week, it’s kind of a byproduct of what you do all the time,” Graham said of his team’s ability to bounce back. “That’s not a given you know. It takes an enormous amount of heart and determination to do that.”