Every team is going to hit a rough patch or have an off day every once in a while. Arizona State is bound to have it's fair share of ups and downs, especially with a younger group of players than in years past under Todd Graham. Tuesday that youth and inexperience on the defense showed.
"This is the first day we haven't met my expectations from an effort standpoint," Graham said. " Too many communication errors and things like that."
He wanted the team to bring more passion to what they were doing. It was clear from the beginning of the day in the walkthrough and install portion that Graham wasn't pleased with how his team was going about practice.
"It was just the way it started off, their body language, a little immaturity here and there and that's where we're showing our inexperience," Graham said. "If you're not at the top of your game when it comes to your attitude and your effort, then you're just not going to get there."
He called out the defense specifically for not getting it done on the field, but had some great things to say about the offense and the way they were competing in the running game.
Marcus Ball out of green, almost cleared
Tuesday was a long time coming for Ball, who went down at Camp Tontozona in 2013 and sat out the year with a shoulder injury. Coming into 2014, he had another undisclosed medical issue that kept him in a green no-contact jersey. He had shed the jersey before, but only for practices with the team in shells. Tuesday, he wore a normal white defensive jersey in full pads.
"I'm glad to be back on the field with my brothers," Ball said. "I've got to get the rust off soon."
He ran with the second team defense at boundary safety on Tuesday, picking off a Mike Bercovici pass during the 11 on 11 segment of practice. The official word on Ball is that he is very close to getting full medical clearance and should have the two thumbs up soon.
"I'm glad to be out of green," Ball said. "I'm so anxious, obviously because I haven't played in so long but also anxious because I just want to get out there and hit somebody else."
Ball added that because he has taken so many mental reps over the past year in the green jersey, he feels confident in his knowledge of the defensive scheme and that he can shake any rust off easily. When asked to quantify just how quickly he would be able to "shake the rust":
"We play in nine days right? So its got to be soon," Ball said.
Ball ran with the first team at Camp Tontozona in the scrimmage, actually making some tackles in the green jersey, but he should be in direct competition with James Johnson for the starting spot at boundary safety.
"He needs to get in shape and he needs to get the rust knocked off of and he's got to compete to play first," Graham said. "He's not just going to walk out and be starting."
- D.J. Foster dressed and was a full participant in practice. Kalen Ballage was dressed out but only did light skill work.
- The team split the scout team (wears gold), freshman corner Tyler Whiley was not in gold, but Chans Cox was.
- First team defense: Linemen: Marcus Hardison- Jaxon Hood-Tashon Smallwood Linebackers: D.J. Calhoun (WILL), Salamo Fiso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR). Antonio Longino (DEVIL) Corners: Lloyd Carrington, Solomon Means Safeties: Damarious Randall, James Johnson
- First team offense: Running back: D.J. Foster Wide receivers: Jaelen Strong, Ronald Lewis, Cameron Smith Tight ends: Kody Kohl, De'Marieya Nelson
- Second team defense: Linemen: Edmond Boateng-Demetrius Cherry-Corey Smith Linebackers: Ezekiel Bishop (SPUR), Christian Sam (WILL), Marcus Washington (DEVIL), Alani Latu (SAM) Corners: Kweishi Brown, Armand Perry Safeties: Marcus Ball, Jordan Simone
- Second team offense: Running back: Deantre Lewis, Demario Richard (some slot WR, some RB). Wide receivers: Gary Chambers, Fred Gammage, Ellis Jefferson
- Notice the shake up at wide receiver with Cam Smith now getting first team reps, Nelson (slot) and Kohl (H-Back) were on the field at the same time. Connor Humphreys, who got some first team snaps at Camp Tontozona, was present but didn't get any reps today.
- Graham kept his word to using the best players on special teams. Punt cover notables: DJ Calhoun, Kweishi Brown, Marcus Washington, Jordan Simone, Lloyd Carrington, Ronald Lewis. Kickoff cover notables: Armand Perry, Christian Sam, DJ Calhoun, Kyle Middlebrooks, Laiu Moeakiola, Antonio Longino
- Play of the day: 15-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to De'Marieya Nelson who had an acrobatic catch near the sideline