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ASU Football: Situation is dynamic at running back

Todd Graham views the offense a little differently this season

DJ Foster finds some shade under the goal post at practice Wednesday. He sat out with a migraine.
DJ Foster finds some shade under the goal post at practice Wednesday. He sat out with a migraine.
Nick Krueger/House of Sparky

Kalen Ballage is big and powerful, D.J. Foster is dynamic, Demario Richard is a good inside zone runner and Deantre Lewis is a slasher. This is how head coach Todd Graham described each of the running backs available to him after practice Wednesday morning.

He thinks the Sun Devils will be well served by using all of them this season.

"I can't imagine all the talent we have there and not getting those guys on the field," Graham said. "We utilize our guys in a lot of ways so we are a two-back set, there's going to be two backs on the field, we're going to utilize those guys."

Foster is still the odds on favorite to be the primary running back in 2014. Graham added that getting Foster 20 to 30 touches a game would be, "ideal," but  in order to use every player he wants to, the Sun Devils will need to run a lot of plays, a concept Graham fully understands.

"If we can run and speed up our tempo, we'd like to run 85 plays a game," Graham said. "I think that we're never going to be a one dimensional team, we're not going to sit there and hand it to him every play. We got a lot of guys."

Longino emerging as a potential second Devilbacker

At practice on Tuesday, Todd Graham put Antonio Longino in as a Devilbacker in 11 on 11, rushing off the edge. Wednesday, Longino was in the same spot and Graham acknowledged the switch, saying Longino has, "found a home at Devil."

"We've gone from not having any devils to having quite a few," Graham said. "I think De'Marieya Nelson and Longino are really similar and really different. Longino has never put his hand on the ground and the other likes to put his hand on the ground."

Graham mentioned that he was still planning on giving De'Marieya Nelson roughly 15 plays a game on offense and added that Marcus Washington is still in the mix at Devilbacker as well. Graham feels that having more than one candidate, or being indecisive about what to do at the position isn't a bad thing.

"I really like how that makes us diverse and if you notice I'm putting both of them (Nelson and Longino) out there at the same time," Graham said. " I'm using defenses where I can use both those guys off the edge and that's exciting."


  • Graham said he expects Jaxon Hood back early next week. Marcus Ball is out until at least the end of Camp Tontozona according to Graham. D.J. Foster was held out with a migraine today, Todd Graham called it "precautionary"
  • First team defense: Linemen: Tashon Smallwood-Demetrius Cherry-Marcus Hardison. Linebackers: De'Marieya Nelson (DEVIL), Carlos Mendoza (WILL), Salamo Fiso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR). Corners: Solomon Means, Lloyd Carrington. Safeties: Damarious Randall, Jordan Simone
  • First team offense: Running back: Kyle Middlebrooks Wide receivers: Jaelen Strong, Fred Gammage, Gary Chambers. Tight end: Grant Martinez
  • Second team defense: Linemen: Renell Wren-Connor Humphreys-Corey Smith Linebackers: Antonio Longino (DEVIL), Christian Sam (WILL), DJ Calhoun (SPUR), Alani Latu (SAM).  Corners: Armand Perry, Kweishi Brown. Safeties: Chad Adams, James Johnson
  • Second team offense: Running back: Kalen Ballage Wide receivers: Eric Lauderdale, Jalen Harvey
  • NFL team scouts at practice: New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans
  • Todd Graham interrupted his own interview with the media three times, yelling individually at Edmond Boateng, Demetrius Cherry and Renell Wren after he caught them walking off the field and wanted them to run.