No. 11 UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley's availability for Thursday may still be under wraps, but everyone in the world knows that Mike Bercovici will start for No.15 Arizona State. Two days before the highly anticipated game, Sun Devils' head coach Todd Graham reiterated that he has all the confidence in the world in Bercovici's ability.
"I'm not worried about how he's going to respond," Graham said. "He's a veteran. I said ‘use the best personnel in the Pac-12. Just use the personel you have and take what they give you."
According to Graham, it was a positive that the new Arizona State signal caller was able to get into the game against Colorado. It wasn't pretty, but it allowed Graham's message of "prepare to play," to carry more weight.
"All he's got to do is manage the game, take care of the football, distribute to our guys and we'll be in great shape," Graham said.
He's also drawn a lot from last year's win over UCLA in the past two weeks, asking the players from last year to remember what it felt like. On Thursday, he said he called on Jaelen Strong to remember his touchdown catch right before halftime against the Bruins last season and what that felt like. Strong had six receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown last season in Pasadena. Graham added it's important the team always stay in an attacking mode and mentality Thursday.
"Things aren't easy, this is the toughest opponent we've had all year, it's the game that decides the south," Graham said. "I always tell them, if we're a UFC fighter, if we're going to lose, we're going to lose going forward and attacking."
Marion Grice joins the Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals picked up former Arizona State running back Marion Grice off the San Diego Chargers practice squad Monday. He was a sixth-round pick of the Chargers in the NFL Draft in May. Graham was overjoyed to hear the news Monday night.
" I'm just so happy for him, if people really knew his story? What an incredible young man that guy is and the unbelievable adversity and the things that he has overcome and accomplished," Graham said.
Grice rushed for 1,675 yards and added another 863 yards receiving during his two years at Arizona State in 2012 and 2013. He replaces running back Jonathan Dwyer who was recently arrested and placed on the NFI list. He will sign a two-year deal with the Cardinals per UT-San Diego.
"I think Marion being in the Cardinals system is really going to be a great fit for him," Graham said. "Very good move by them for bringing him in here because there is not a guy that I've coached that I think more of than Marion Grice."
- Graham said Tashon Smallwood and Viliami Latu would be in a rotation at three-technique. Graham also said he didn't know if Kweishi Brown would start. I asked Latu and Brown personally after practice if the plan was for them to start against UCLA and both said yes.
- Tyler Whiley is still in green but did some light running along the sidelines.Taylor Kelly is still on crutches and in a walking boot. Ray Anderson stopped by practice, shook hands with Kelly, and chatted with him momentarily.
- Defensive walkthrough- Linemen: Viliami Latu-Jaxon Hood-Marcus Hardison Linebackers: DJ Calhoun (WILL), Salamo FIso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR), De'Marieya Nelson (DEVIL). Corners: Kweishi Brown, Lloyd Carrington Safeties: Jordan Simone, Damarious Randall
- Christian Sam backed up Moeakiola at SPUR
- Special teams took of most of the practice time that the media was allowed to watch.