Football is back! Sort of.
With spring practice underway for the Arizona State Sun Devils, there are plenty of storylines set to unfold following an offseason that saw plenty of turnover within the coaching staff and a handful of key players lost to graduation.
Here are some notes and observations from today's first spring practice:
Three quarterbacks: Manny Wilkins, Bryce Perkins and Brady White each took first-team reps in warmups. There will be a three-man battle, which will become a four-man battle in the fall when Dillon Sterling-Cole joins the competition.
New faces on the defensive side of the ball
The JUCO faces are popping up.
Defensive backs Maurice Chandler and J'Marcus Rhodes saw time in the rotation during defensive walk-throughs. Chandler (sporting No. 8) manned the boundary corner spot with the first team. Rhodes (sporting No. 17) rotated at the field corner spot.
Here's what we observed on the offensive side of things:
Offensive line: one arrangement appeared pitted Evan Goodman (LT), Sam Jones (LG), Tyler McClure (C), Stephon McCray (RG), and Quin Bailey (RT) together.
It's worth noting Corey Smith (listed as a defensive lineman on the official roster) rotated amongst the offensive linemen, too.
ASU trotted out a few different wide receiver combos, with the three-man pairings featuring two groupings: Tim White (flanker/2), Ellis Jefferson (X/9) and Cameron Smith (split-end/Z); Terrell Chatman (split-end/Z), Frederick Gammage (X/9) and Jalen Harvey (flanker/2).
Here's what we observed on the defensive side of things:
- DL: Tashon Smallwood, Viliami Latu, JoJo Wicker, Christian Hill
- LB: Salamo Fiso, Alani "A.J." Latu, D.J. Calhoun, Marcus Ball
- DB: Kareem Orr (field safety), Maurice Chandler (boundary corner), De'Chaveon Hayes (field corner -- listed as a running back on the official roster), Chad Adams and Armand Perry.
Notable number changes
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Brady White is now wearing No. 2. He previously wore No. 7, and assumes last year's starter, Mike Bercovici's vacated number.
Junior running back Kalen Ballage is now wearing No. 7. He previously wore No. 9, assuming White's vacated number.
Kareem Orr led the defensive backs out onto the field, and has apparently assumed the leading role within the unit. He finished with 7 interceptions in his freshman year.
Todd Graham: "I liked their approach," Graham said of the first day. "We feel good about the foundation we've laid. We've just gotta focus on the things we need to eliminate. We have those specific goals for spring."
"I like the energy," said of the new faces on the coaching staff. "There's a newness. When there's new, it creates an energy and a synergy."
Noted that the changes along the offensive line, within the secondary and at starting quarterback excite him.
Said he expects junior college players to have an impact right away.
Was impressed by the 'passion and positive energy' of coaches John Simon and Jay Norvell. Complimented Keith Patterson, Chip Lindsey, John Semaulo and T.J. Rushing, too.
Happy with the way the veterans of the defense performed.
"Our goal is to establish and re-establish our identity," Graham said. "Who are we? That PT42 mentality, the energy. Let's not talk about it, let's be about it, and bring it every single day. The biggest thing we want to come out of spring is to establish who we are -- our identity -- and make sure everybody coming in that's new understands that."
Ball security is a key concern offensively, along with being timely offensively.
Defensively, Graham wants to negate negative plays and create more turnovers.
Brady White: "I got recently switched to two. I got texted about it, and was like 'cool.' I wore it in high school, so I think that's why they switched me." Said it's an honor to wear the number. "We're just going at it," he said of the three players competing for the open tryout at starting quarterback.