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ASU Football: Offense rules the day

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The defense may be the primary storyline but offense took center stage Thursday

Kyle Middlebrooks, Kalen Ballage and Deantre Lewis go through a drill Thursday morning at practice
Kyle Middlebrooks, Kalen Ballage and Deantre Lewis go through a drill Thursday morning at practice
Nick Krueger/House of Sparky

Trying to figure out who to play at Devilbacker and on the defensive line have been the primary story lines at fall camp. Today Todd Graham, a defensive minded head coach, did a 180 degree turn and praised the offense.

"Every champion has to line up and run the ball with great efficiency, that showed today," Graham said. "Today was dominated by the offense, I thought we really did a good job of executing and then that opens up those play action passes."

Graham has been a football coach for a long time. He didn't come out and say it, but underneath the surface, this could be just as much about praising the offense as it is calling out the defense to step up.

"I'm pretty passionate about it, I know what wins games and you have to be able to line up and run the football," Graham said. "The offense averged 11 yards per carry on inside direct runs which is pretty good."

Qualifying 11 yards per carry as "pretty good," shows that Graham has incredibly high expectations for the Sun Devils' offense in 2014. Graham also highlighted Deantre Lewis and Kyle Middlebrooks as the playmakers.

"Every one of those big runs was on movement, so that's pretty good that our offense was able to handle that," Graham said. "I think that's what caused a lot of the big runs was guys not getting where they were supposed to be and getting blocked."

As much as the offense is progressing with Taylor Kelly at the helm, their are still questions to be answered. The Sun Devils need a new tight end to replace Chris Coyle, and that race seems to be shaping up between Kody Kohl and Grant Martinez. The maroon and gold are also still trying to figure out the rest of the wide receiving core outside of Jaelen Strong. Eric Lauderdale, Jalen Harvey, Tyler Whiley,  Fred Gammage and Gary Chambers are competing for the remaining spots.

It wasn't the best day for the defense, but Graham still found  a few positives about the group.

"We have everything installed, now we aren't good at all of it, but we have it all installed and that's amazing with all the freshman and newcomers on the defense," Graham said.

Notes

  • D.J. Foster has held out of practice for the second straight day, Graham called it, "precautionary" yesterday. Jaxon Hood is still not here, but is expected early next week. Demario Richard was also held out of practice today. Armand Perry is out of his green no contact jersey and participated fully. Marcus Ball remains out until after Camp Tontozona with an undisclosed medical issue.
  • First team defense: Linemen: Marcus Hardison-Mo Latu-Tashon Smallwood Linebackers: De'Marieya Nelson (DEVIL), Carlos Mendoza (WILL), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR), Salamo Fiso (SAM). Corners: Lloyd Carrington, Solomon Means. Safeties: Damarious Randall, Jordan Simone
  • First team offense: Running back: Deantre Lewis Wide receivers: Fred Gammage, Gary Chambers, Jaelen Strong (Ronald Lewis got a few reps). Tight end: Grant Martinez
  • Second team defense: Linemen: Renell Wren-Connor Humphreys- Corey Smith Linebackers: Christian Sam (SPUR), Alani Latu (SAM), DJ Calhoun (WILL), Antonio Longino (DEVIL). Corners: Kweishi Brown, Armand Perry. Safeties: Chad Adams, James Johnson
  • Second team offense: Running back: Kyle Middlebrooks Tight end: Dan Vear Wide receivers: Ronald Lewis, Tyler Whiley, Ellis Jefferson
  • Graham mentioned Edmond Boateng for the first time all camp today, saying he got first team reps during the portion media could not see.
  • Last night, Graham said the competition for the other starting safety spot between Jordan Simone and James Johnson is "neck and neck."
  • Graham said the offense only turned it over once today, the defense had a record low three tackles for loss.
  • Graham said DJ Calhoun is coming on strong and said he feels he made the right decision keeping him at WILL (instead of SPUR).
  • Play of the day: Mike Bercovici threw a wide receiver screen pass to Fred Gammage that Gammage broke for about a 70-yard touchdown. Chad Adams had a false step and blew the coverage.
  • Ronald Lewis and Eric Lauderdale stayed late to catch passes.