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ASU Football: Coaches shift roles while players crank out best practice yet

Graham wishes his son luck and talks about Josh Martin's new role with the running backs and his confidence in the development of this Sun Devil team. That and more notes from Tuesday's practice.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Sun Devils continued to hone their focus on Texas A&M in Tuesday's practice and Head Coach Todd Graham said it was one of the team's strongest practices thus far.

"Today was one of our best days," Graham said. "There's great focus, just really shows our maturity and all these guys continue to impress me."

That all being said after the departure of Graham's son and former running backs coach Bo Graham Monday. Graham did not disclose any information regarding the reason for his son's resignation but hinted that a better opportunity awaited him on the other side of it.

"I'm very grateful," Graham said. "The time he spent here means the world to me and I wish him the best in his new job. He's got a new opportunity and it's an exciting opportunity to him. Our program's about relationships and we love each other and want the best for each other. It's the same talk I gave the receivers when Jaelen (Strong) decided to go to the draft."

Josh Martin's role

Josh Martin, an offensive graduate assistant previously working with the offensive line, will step into Bo Graham's role while maintaining some of his prior responsibilities with the O-line.  Graham said Martin's father and him "go way back" as they were competitors in Texas High School football long ago.

"I love having people that believe in what we believe in and good work has ways in opening doors for other people and Josh is ready for that opportunity and one of the finest young coaches we've had since I've been here." Graham said.  "He'll be working with the tight ends and three backs and him and Coach (Mike) Norvell and Chip (Long) will kind of team up with the running backs and we have a lot of two-back sets and things like that so we're ready."

Martin said his transition into the new role has been smooth and neither him nor Graham are worried about the fact that the transition is taking place in the heart of prime preparation time for ASU's first opponent of the 2015 season.

"I'm just excited to be here and ready to roll," Martin said. "We'll be just fine. Just like we tell our guys, 'One guy gets hurt and it's the next guy up.'"

Freshman Production

One thing Graham has up his sleeve for the future of his program is a very talented freshman class. Running back Nick Ralston, defensive lineman JoJo Wicker and defensive back Kareem Orr were among some of the standouts the head coach mentioned.

However Graham said these fresh legs need some time to season before they are ready to step into a starting role in such a complex system.

"Kareem Orr is a guy that just, man, he just gets better and better and better everyday and once he figures it out, he'll be a really tough guy to keep out of the starting lineup," Graham said. "That's how impressed I am with him. But those guys are going to have to get experience and there's no substitute. It's hard to take the fourth year and water it down to help somebody start so it becomes harder and harder to play in our system as a young player."

Notes

  • Tim White and Sam Jones were still in green non-contact jerseys but Graham said while they are questionable, he hopes to have both players Week 1.
  • The portion of the practice the media was allowed to be present for included the 11-on-11 drills only.
  • First team O-line included William McGehee, Nick Kelly, Christian Westerman, Vi Teofilo and Evan Goodman.
  • First team defense saw Jordan Simone (Tillman jersey) at single high safety with three corners in Kweishi Brown, Lloyd Carrington and Solomon Means.
  • Means intercepted an overthrown Berco ball in the short time the media was present.
  • Antonio Longino started at Devilbacker and Kalen Ballage rotated in at Devil on third downs.
  • Gump Hayes was in the slot for first team reps and continues to be utilized more at the receiver position than as a running back.
  • James Johnson was also in a Tillman jersey at Tuesday's practice.