The bye week theme of specials teams and resting players continued on Thursday. Arizona State will play five straight vital Pac-12 games to close out the season, therefore staying healthy remains one of the top priorities.
Todd Graham said guys are starting to heal up, which could be attributed to no pads for the third straight day.
Heading into the clash at Washington State, the Sun Devils are practicing without two of their key offensive weapons in D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong. Foster and Strong were limited participants but neither trotted out onto the gridiron for first team offensive repetitions.
As kickoff creeps down to one week away, the ASU road questions begin to come strolling in. Since Graham took over last season, the Maroon and Gold are 3-4 on the road compared to 9-2 at home.
"We have a big challenge ahead of us going on the road and winning," Graham said. "We got to figure out a way to do that. The bottom line is going out and executing and playing. We don't have to worry about the road."
Playing in cold weather situations provides challenges for the Valley of the Sun (Devils). In 2010 at Washington State, lots of ASU players attributed the loss to snow. Meanwhile, Graham won't tolerate any excuses about the weather and doesn't understand why it even matters.
"We don't even talk about that. It doesn't matter if it's raining, it's cold. That's a mental deal. That's an excuse for playing like crap," Graham said. "You can ask my staff, if you say something about the weather on game day what will happen to you. We've scored 50 points in this offense in a driving rain storm at the GMAC bowl. Because our guys didn't react to it."
Washington State and its fan base are pumped up for the ESPN bright lights on Halloween night. The school even decided to cancel classes. The hostile Cougars crowd shouldn't be taken lightly.
"You're walking into an environment where they have had a week off. They are playing on Thursday night, ESPN, Halloween night," Graham said. "They got everything lined up exactly like they want it. The crowd is going to be in it as long as they are in it."
Other Practice Notes
- Marcus Ball was back in the green non-contact jersey. Ball was mainly stretching and participating in some conditioning drills, and his status for Washington State appears questionable at best.
- Jaelen Strong had a green non-contact jersey tucked into his shorts, but he never slipped it on. Strong did workouts on the side and is clearly nowhere near full strength.
- Kyle Middlebrooks got to work alongside Marion Grice and company instead of the scout team.
- Robert Nelson took the majority of snaps as the punt returner, and let one trickle down to his own 1-yard line. Nelson also completed a really cool back flip while waiting around for the next defensive play.
- Alden Darby had several punts return chances.
- Richard Smith (wearing green) and DeAntre Lewis got sent out to the starting offense in place of Foster and Strong.
- Graham praised the Washington State offense, which averages 30.9 points per game.