The Arizona St. Sun Devils held their first football scrimmage on Saturday under head coach Todd Graham. It's never wise to read too much into a first scrimmage, but following are some key notes and relevant subplots to keep in mind from Saturday.
Running back Deantre Lewis shined in his first significant series of reps since last year's shooting injury. Cameron Marshall is recovering from a recent ankle surgery, and in his absence it's nice to see Lewis playing hard. The dynamic running back showed explosive ability in 2010-11 and may be on his way to providing that same energy this season. If both Lewis and Marshall can demonstrate full recovery from their respective injuries by the time the season starts, ASU will have a very strong platoon of runners (Lewis, Marshall, D.J. Foster, Marion Grice, Kyle Middlebrooks) to spearhead the offense.
Meanwhile, the quarterback competition between Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly remains close. Bercovici started with the day's first reps, but all three QBs saw relatively equal action; none of the three can be declared the clear frontrunner at this point. Bercovici was the most impressive of the group in the passing game on Saturday, though all three struggled with turnovers and completions, and Eubank showed the most promise on the run. The two will likely battle over the coming months for the starting job. Kelly appears to be third on the depth chart right now but will get opportunities and reps to prove himself as the coaching staff continue to assess ASU's three young quarterbacks.
Click through for more notes from Saturday's scrimmage.
The position that may have the most questions attached to it right now is wide receiver. ASU will have to compensate for the loss of several important seniors (Gerell Robinson, Aaron Pflugrad, Mike Willie) and the many yards that they compiled in the passing game last year. Coach Graham definitely has his thoughts occupied by the team's wideouts too, but not for the same reason. After the practice, Graham had this to say: "The biggest thing I'm concerned about right now is our blocking at wide receiver...You can see today we're pretty raw, a lot of missed blocks."
On the other side of the ball, the defense showed lots of pressure on Saturday and was aggressive. The Sun Devils could really benefit if the defense can continue attacking, something that ASU failed to do effectively down the stretch last year. One issue that the ASU safeties will need to work on, though, is making plays on the ball. The secondary dropped catchable interceptions throughout the day.
Overall, there's a lot to be happy about after this first scrimmage. There are question marks at quarterback and wide receiver in particular, but there is also a lot of practice to be had between now and the beginning of football season. It's up to Graham and his staff to start addressing the team's issues and building a successful football program.