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ASU Football: Sun Devils begin preparations for New Mexico

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Todd Graham praised a freshman cornerback and revealed the key to stopping New Mexico's triple option attack during his Monday press conference.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Graham is ready to put Arizona State's 45-14 shellacking of Weber State behind him. He mentioned multiple times before and after Thursday night's victory that he does not enjoy beating up on the FCS schools.

"I don't like those games and our fans don't either," Graham reiterated at his Monday afternoon press conference. "It doesn't matter what you do. If you do good, it's only a 1-AA (FCS) opponent and if you do anything bad..."

The good news is Monday officially starts a new game week, and for Arizona State that means a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to face the Lobos, who are coming off a 31-24 loss to UTEP.

"They had 410 yards of rushing last week," said Graham. "They were one of the most explosive teams in the country last year in long runs. They have very fast skill players."

The Arizona State head coach mentioned three players from New Mexico that caught his eye on film: Running backs Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson along with wide receiver Carlos Wiggins.

Pressley and Gipson combined for 155 yards on 22 carriers against UTEP. New Mexico's leading rusher was quarterback Cole Gautsche, who will miss the game this Saturday with a hamstring injury. The biggest challenge for the Sun Devils will not be the personal for New Mexico, but the scheme, as the Lobos run the triple-option.

"The biggest thing is being assignment oriented. Obviously when you play a triple-option team you have to do a good job with that," Graham said. "You have to stop the dive first and foremost and stop the quarterback and make sure you don't give up any edges.

"We talked a lot about discipline and not taking the aggression out of our defense. We are an attacking defense, we will always be an attacking defense. The big things are discipline and assignments. You have to be disciplined with this type of offense."

A Long Time Coming

Two local products finally got their opportunity to shine against Weber State. Linebacker Marcus Washington only played two defensive snaps, but one of them was forcing a turnover on downs at the goal line in the first half. Washington started his Sun Devil career as a running back, before switching to tight end and now finding a home on defense.

"Marcus Washington is the consummate team player. I think he's played five positions, and both sides of the ball," said Graham. "He plays on every special teams, whatever we ask him to do he does it. I'm really, really proud of him and he's a really good football player. He's a difference maker for us on special teams."

Redshirt junior wide receiver Gary Chambers recorded his first career touchdown reception against the Wildcats on Thursday night. Chambers, out of Glendale, Arizona, finished with 46 receiving yards on two catches.

"Gary is a guy who's been a scout team guy the past two years and has really worked his tail off," Graham said. "He not only did a good job at wide receiver, he was one of the players of the week on special teams. He was phenomenal. He did a tremendous job and has a tremendous attitude."

Rising Freshman

Even though DJ Calhoun was the talk of the game Thursday night, Graham noticed another standout freshman. Defensive back Chad Adams out of Allen, Texas. Adams played around 25 snaps in the secondary and Graham said he could see time at both safety and corner.

"I like him in the boundary, whether that be boundary safety or boundary corner," Graham said. "He' still learning the process. He looks a bit more comfortable at boundary safety. What I like about him is his ability to cover, he's fast and he has speed to recover. He can cover man to man and he is sharp in picking up concepts."

Road Trip

Even with so many fresh faces receiving significant playing time, Graham is not worried about taking this team on the road for the first time.

"This program is about winning championships, you have to go on the road and win," said Graham. "I'm not worried about them going on the road. If you can't go on the road and win you cannot win a championship. "We are just focused on winning, on beating New Mexico."

Notes

  • Graham said that Marcus Ball was a little rusty in his first action of the season. Because he missed so much practice this fall, Graham feels that Ball is a few weeks behind the rest of the defense.
  • Four Sun Devil rookies made 53-man NFL rosters after final cuts were announced over the weekend. Will Sutton (Bears), Carl Bradford (Packers), Davon Coleman (Cowboys) and Robert Nelson (Browns). Marion Grice wasn't initially cut by the Chargers yesterday, but this morning he was put on waivers.