ASU Football: All eyes on Wisconsin

Wide receiver Rick Smith dives for the extra yard. - Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As the Sun Devils' game against Wisconsin is right around the corner, Marcus Ball is ready to begin his recovery process.

Tuesday's practice dwindled down and the large contingent of media stood around overlooking the intense atmosphere. Coach Todd Graham and his players understand the opportunity at hand, facing the reigning Big-10 Champions, the Wisconsin Badgers.

"Good Tuesday, we got after it today and I love our guys' attitude and how they are working," Graham said. "They know how good of an opponent they are playing and this is what we do this for. Guys are excited."

Sun Devil Nation may have been disappointed by falling outside the Associated Press top 25, but a victory over the Badgers would solve the problem. Heading into the ESPN clash, Graham believes turnovers, running the ball, and discipline will decide the outcome.

"The team that is the best disciplined team, the team that takes care of the ball the best or owns the ball, turnover ratio and the team that dominates run game is going to win."

All three areas of the game are continuously being drilled home by the entire coaching staff. Graham went on to praise the team's discipline, and how it puts them in position to win.

Projected starting safety Marcus Ball finally took off his sling after suffering a dislocated shoulder four weeks ago. Ball still sported the green non-contact jersey and didn't participate in any individual drills. The timetable for Ball to return hasn't been set, as the true freshman will have an X-Ray in the upcoming days.

Graham was asked about Ball's recovery and said: "Slow, we're taking it cautious and the X-Ray coming up, and then he'll start progressing."

Other Practice Notes

  • Despite scoring 55 points, Graham was displeased with the offensive tempo in week one. "I think the worst thing we did in game one was our tempo, and a lot of people think it was fast. It was slow." Graham wants Taylor Kelly to snap the ball with about 20-25 seconds left on the play clock.
  • Safety Damarious Randall should play on Saturday, but he could see limited action. Meanwhile, starting safety Laiu Moeakiola impressed in his debut and will retain the starting job for now.
  • In the ASU secondary, a lot of responsibility will be placed on corner Osahon Irabor. Graham thinks Irabor can handle the pressure. "Irabor is twice as good as he was last year."
  • According to Graham, linebacker Carlos Mendoza looked "sluggish". Mendoza's playing status remains up in the air after two strong practices and a disappointing Tuesday showing.
  • Slowing down Wisconsin's potent running backs is the major key for the ASU defense. Graham said "20", otherwise known as James White, is the Badgers' best player. "He's (James White) a dynamic player, I don't find a lot of weaknesses in the running backs."
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