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ASU Football: New Mexico's triple option has ASU preparing for perimeter attack

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ASU's offensive and defensive coordinators shed light on the Sun Devil's inability to defend Cal Poly's triple option offense and the similarities and differences they will face in facing a similar offense in the Lobos Friday.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils are taking their mistakes from last week and using them to compile a game plan that will allow for better execution against a New Mexico team of a similar style to Cal Poly.

Defending the Triple Option

The biggest focus in this week's game plan is once again defending the triple option. The Sun Devils struggled with Cal Poly's triple option attack in Saturday's matchup and will see a similarly designed offense this Friday against the Lobos. However, there are some differences.

"It's a different scheme this week," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "New Mexico's spacing is different because they are out of the (shot) gun. They can't have those wide splits because it's not as quick-hitting as the true veer teams."

Cal Poly registered 323 yards and two touchdowns with its triple option offense against ASU, a number that lent itself to the Sun Devils' inability to execute their defensive game plan at a high level. Patterson said Arizona State struggled stopping the dive early. When adjustments were made, he said the Mustangs made the necessary plays along the perimeter. Now the focus is on adjusting to the things that might be similar, while preparing for more of a perimeter attack.

"It's the same yet different," Patterson said. "It's the same in the sense that it's a triple option but it's out of the gun. To me, it's slower developing up inside, when you have people in the three-point stance, almost a four-point stance, fullbacks three yards from the football running the inside veer and the midline veer it sets up that quick hitting and before you know it, it's a three-yard, four-yard gain.

"But now everything is out of the gun, which defensively we're built for because there's triple option principles even in our system offensively," Patterson said. "So, to me it's more of a perimeter attack. If you look at most of (New Mexico's) big plays, it comes when they get the ball out on the perimeter with the quarterback and pitch him the football."

The Injury Plague

Last week ASU fans saw four Sun Devils (De'Chavon Hayes, William McGehee, Armand Perry and Viliami Latu) leave the game with an injury and not return. Tuesday in practice five players donned the green non-contact jerseys. Kalen Ballage also still remains out with mono.

This succession of injuries for Arizona State has resulted in a lot of younger players being counted on for bigger roles and the need for coaches to shift players around. This has been a feat through ASU's first two games, as fans saw D.J. Foster shifting back into the backfield and new receivers seeing more reps.

"It's tough," Foster said. "We got a lot of guys rotating, we got a lot of young guys out there too playing, especially at critical positions, but they're learning. Every game that's a new experience for them so they're just maturing and growing into it."

The good news about potentially keeping Foster in the backfield while players remain injured, is that one of Foster's best games came against New Mexico last year when he totaled 270 all purpose yards in ASU's 58-23 smackdown of the Lobos.

"That was a great game but this is a new season, new game," Foster said. "We just got to find our chemistry now. We just got to come out here and just keep practicing hard and get our timing down with Mike (Bercovici) and make sure Mike's protected as long as possible and just keep our rhythm going in practice."

Calling From the Press Box

ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell called plays from the press box in ASU's win over Cal Poly, a first since he came to Arizona State. The move was partly a result of Bo Graham's departure.

In Graham's postgame press conference, he related that he did not feel that Norvell could really see and get the information he wanted from the field, something Bo Graham helped with when he was in the press box.

However, Norvell had a much different reaction to his first time calling plays from up above.

"It was good," Norvell said. "It's something we've discussed for a while. Every year I've contemplated going up and I think it was an easy transition. I had great communication with Mike, was able to see things that I wanted to see and one of the big reasons we did that was with Coach (Chip) Long being able to be down there with the backs and making in-game adjustments and to have the position coach be there and to get that coached I thought that went really smoothly."

Tim White

Redshirt junior wide receiver Tim White keeps inching closer to a starting role after making a comeback from his recent hand injury.

White, who made his season debut against Cal Poly, broke out with a 59-yard run, registered a touchdown and caught two passes for 23 yards. Now, according to Norvell, it's all about cementing his timing with Bercovici.

"Tim started the game last week," Norvell said. "He got cleared, right before we kicked off in Week 1, and then we were able to progress and get those practice reps in this week and he's going to continue to grow.

"He's an explosive player. He's a guy we know can make plays. It's just the reps and timing now, it's hard to get the timing down with Berc since we've lost him since Camp T. I think he did a really good job last week and is showing that confidence every rep that he gets."

Notes:

  • Latu, Perry, Ballage, Jalen Harvey and Frederick Gammage were all in green, non-contact jerseys Tuesday.
  • First team offensive line included Evan Goodman, Christian Westerman, Stephon McCray (at center instead of Nick Kelly), Vi Teofilo and Sam Jones.
  • Raymond Epps started at tight end.
  • Ellis Jefferson, Gary Chambers and Eric Lauderdale rotated in at wide receiver.
  • Scouts from both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals were in attendance Tuesday.