(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
Wednesday’s practice showed there are some areas Arizona State football needs to improve before their game Saturday against the New Mexico Lobos.
“We’re practicing good but not great. And that’s not going to get it done,” head coach Todd Graham said after practice.
Graham blamed the mistakes on his young team not knowing yet how to practice at a high level.
“We’re not doing anything bad,” Graham said, “but I told them we got to do a better job tomorrow. Because everyday that we prepare, it’s about winning a championship. And you can practice good and it will be good enough for a while. But it ain’t going to be good enough to win the Pac-12.”
The triple option
In the session open to the media, the Sun Devils opened with a brief walkthrough on defense, preparing for New Mexico’s triple option-attack. Graham used this as another opportunity to preach “assignment football,” a catchphrase commonly used to describe the best way to defend the triple option. Graham believes the Lobos offense, combined with their team speed, can cause problems for the Sun Devil defense.
“Their tailbacks, their wide receivers, their pitch-backs can go, take it to the house. I mean they can flat run,” Graham said. Graham noted that while the Sun Devils have only one week to prepare, an extra practice was added thanks to the previous game being on a Thursday. Inadequate time to prepare will not be an excuse for the defensive unit should they struggle, Graham said.
Won’t get fooled
Most of the session open to the media was used on special teams, which has been a point of emphasis for the Sun Devils all season. The primary focus at Wednesday’s practice was on kickoff returns and coverage, and on punt coverage.
Graham was heavily involved with the punt coverage unit, thinking the Lobos will fake at least one punt, if not more. After practice, Graham noted the specials teams unit was a little bit slow because of some new plays being installed.
Defensive Line: Marcus Hardison (End), Jaxon Hood (Nose Tackle), Tashon Smallwood (Tiger), Edmond Boateng (Devilbacker)
Linebackers: Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR), Salamo Fiso (SAM), DJ Calhoun (WILL)
Cornerbacks: Armand Perry (Boundary), Lloyd Carrington (Field), Kweishi Brown (Nickel)
Safeties: James Johnson (Boundary), Damarious Randall (Field)
Jaelen Strong did not work with the special teams. Kalen Ballage and Kyle Middlebrooks handled kickoff returns