During Tuesday's practice, Damarious Randall earned most of the opportunities at field safety over Laiu Moeakiola. Randall batted injuries throughout summer camp, which carried over into early season action. Moeakiola, the Texas native, should still see plenty of playing time, and may even retain his duties with the starters.
Chris Young lined at the SPUR linebacker position instead of the WILL linebacker position, as he did all week. In the first three games, he got the nod at the WILL spot. Todd Graham believes sliding Young over could help patch up the run defense.
Salamo Fiso and Carlos Mendoza shared the majority of repetitions at WILL. The redshirt freshman, Fiso, did garner most of the looks with the first team. Todd Graham raves about Fiso's talent, yet let's not forget, Mendoza had two interceptions in his sole start of his career last season.
Jaxon Hood's status doesn't look any clearer, wearing the green no-contact jersey again. Todd Graham said Hood was "very doubtful" on Wednesday. The Freshman All-American, Hood, moved around decently in drills. Whether Hood plays or not could come down to the final minutes before kickoff against Notre Dame.
If Hood doesn't go, Marcus Hardison must step up his absence. Hardison, the highly touted junior college recruit, has failed to live up to expectations. The defensive line has been decimated with injuries, forcing Hardison into the fold regardless of the shaky production.
380-pound Mo Latu saw more involvement in team drills, but he didn't appear to be moving at full speed. Latu is an tough-run stopper on defense, but his conditioning is suspect. The Sun Devils hope to have their behemoth, Latu, clogging the running lanes.
For special teams, punter Mat Haack easily put together his best practice display of the season. Haack launched two punts around 45-yards each via tight spirals. Alex Garoutte followed suit with quality rugby style punts.
Other practice notes
- Todd Graham on returning home to Texas: "It really means a lot to me. My middle school, my high school coach, my mom and siblings are all going to be there. That's the first time I've ever had that in my entire coaching career. So it means a lot, I want to do well. I talked to my mom last night and she said, 'don't worry about anything else but winning.' So that's what we're going to try to do."
- Losing isn't the only obstacle for Todd Graham. "One of the things I thought we didn't do a very good job of last year was just preparing guys for success," Graham said. "It's kind of like when you score a touchdown. We just act like we have just done it before. We don't get too high or too low."
- Graham knows the atmosphere will be exciting, yet he knows the trip will only be memorable if they win. "This is a business trip for us. It's exciting for our fans and it's been a focal point for a lot of people," Graham said. "Everybody was talking about [this] game. And our focus is one thing: winning the game. Keeps all of our goals in tact."
- Returning punts outdoors is quite different than indoors, according to Todd Graham, who used to do so back in his playing days. Therefore, the punt returners will spend extra time pre-game working on the adjustments.
- Darren Woodson, Bob Breunig and Danny White will join the current players in the team walkthrough.
- The team will be bringing more players to Dallas, Texas than most road games, because Todd Graham wants young players to experience the bright lights.