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ASU Football: Todd Graham sees uncertainty on defense as a good challenge

It's not easy losing so much talent

Center Nick Kelly and right tackle Tyler Sulka get ready for practice Sunday.
Center Nick Kelly and right tackle Tyler Sulka get ready for practice Sunday.
Nick Krueger/House of Sparky

Head coach Todd Graham and his staff have to go back to the drawing board on the defensive side of the ball. The first few days of practice have shown a lot of different packages, whether its De'Marieya Nelson moving to Devilbacker or Marcus Hardinson sliding inside on the defensive line Saturday.

Graham admitted on Sunday that trying to find the right formula on defense again won't be easy, especially after the success last year.

"We were really comfortable in having Will (Sutton), and Carl (Bradford), and Chris Young, and (Alden) Darby," Graham said. "I had it figured out, what we were doing really matched what their skills I'm having to learn so I'm a little uncomfortable."

It's not often that Graham is willing to reveal a personal weakness, so it shows that Arizona State certainly has their work cut out for them. However Graham also offered a positive outlook on the task ahead.

"But I like that, that's a great challenge, I thought we looked pretty good today," Graham said. ""The key is to not do the same thing but also don't do too much."

He went on to explain that the adjustments that need to be made will have to circle around the players available to them and the way they play. He cited De'Marieya Nelson not really being the same player as Carl Bradford and the same can be said for Antonio Longino or DJ Calhoun not being an accurate comparison to Chris Young.

Plain and simple, it's a different team than a year ago, but it's also a group Graham has a lot of faith and confidence in.

"I really believe this is going to be the best football team that we've had because of how they surrender each day to the team,"  Graham said. "That's going to determine our fate; how well we commit."


  • First team defense: Linemen: Viliami Latu (tiger)- Mo Latu - Marcus Hardison Linebackers: Salamo Fiso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR), Antonio Longino (WILL), De'Marieya Nelson (Devil). Corners: Lloyd Carrington, Solomon Means. Safeties: Damarious Randall (field), Jordan Simone (boundary)
  • First team offense notables: Tight end: Kody Kohl Wide Receivers: Fred Gammage, Gary Chambers, Jaelen Strong. Quarterback: Taylor Kelly Running back: D.J. Foster Linemen: LT-Jamil Douglas, LG-Christian Westerman, C-Nick Kelly, RG- Vi Teofilo, RT- Tyler Sulka
  • Eric Lauderdale and Jalen Harvey ran with second team offense
  • Second team defense: Linemen: Renell Wren (end), Tashon Smallwood (nose), Connor Humphreys (tiger). Linebackers: Christian Sam (SPUR), DJ Calhoun (WILL), Chans Cox (Devil) Alani Latu (SAM) Corners: Kweishi Brown, Chad Adams. Safeties: DeAndre Scott, James Johnson
  • Mike Norvell drove the quarterbacks over to the practice field 10 minutes earlier than the rest of the team in order to start warming up.
  • Getting off the tram, the defensive backs had the most energy. Jordan Simone: "Woo! It's a beautiful day!". Lots of high fives and secret handshakes all around.
  • Kalen Ballage and Jaelen Strong got the first crack at kickoff return while Jalen Harvey and Kyle Middlebrooks got the next look. Kyle Middlebrooks got the first look on punt return followed by Jalen Harvey and Kweishi Brown.
  • Graham noted five takeaways on defense today and reiterated the perfectionist attitude that he's know for, saying that the team's number one objective is to make sure their aren't any turnovers.
  • 2015 quarterback commit Bryce Perkins attended practice today. Graham spent about 10 minutes talking to his family after practice was over.