With the season opener against Weber State on Thursday creeping closer and closer, head coach Todd Graham used Saturday's practice to help ease the newcomers into the routine.
"We wanted to get them under the lights, give them a run-through," Graham said. "We ran through our entire gameday procedure, how we warm up and what we do."
The evening session was held at Sun Devil Stadium, the final night practice before Thursday's opener. They went through the regular routine, then did an abbreviated version of the practice before the game.
Graham said it was for the benefit of the young players on the team, who he felt needed a shakeup of the regular practice grind.
"We've got young guys that need to mature in a hurry," Graham said. "They're tired of practicing so you get a little distracted. Too many mental young guys by the young guys. Not just young guys, but newcomers."
Graham said in particular he was pleased with the work of freshman linebacker DJ Calhoun, who was listed as the first-team WILL linebacker at the release of the latest depth chart.
"DJ's deal is when the lights come on, he's got to do what he's coached to do," Graham said. "You talk about tough, hard-nosed, fly to the football, relentless every play. You have to say woah, woah, woah, easy. He goes."
Along with Calhoun, Graham listed a few other freshmen by name with whom he was pleased, including Tashon Smallwood, Christian Sam, Chad Adams and Arman Perry.
"I like their attitudes," Graham said.
Positions still up for grabs
-Despite praising him at WILL, Graham said Calhoun is still in a battle with fellow freshman Christian Sam.
- Graham said he would like to see freshman Connor Humphreys compete for a spot at the nose. Although he saw some first team reps at the spot at Camp Tontozona, he was listed behind redshirt juniors Demetrius Cherry and Mo Latu, as well as junior Jaxon Hood on the depth chart.
- Boundary safety is still open if redshirt freshman Marcus Ball is not cleared to play by Thursday. Redshirt junior Jordan Simone and redshirt freshman James Johnson will compete there for reps. Damarious Randall will play field safety, but Graham and Ball have both hinted that the safety spot is more fluid in a positional sense. This means Randall could see some time at boundary and Ball may play some field safety too.
- Redshirt sophomore Lloyd Carrington will start cornerback, while redshirt junior Solomon Means and freshmen Chad Adams and Armand Perry are still fighting for time at the other corner spot.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
After practice, Graham and captains Taylor Kelly, Jamil Douglas, Damarious Randall and De'Marieya Nelson took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Here is the video from Douglas' Instagram page.