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ASU Football: What we learned following Wednesday's practice

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Read what we learned following Wednesday's spring practice, including what ASU's plan is for Saturday's final spring practice.

Has ASU found its Devilbacker?

Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham didn't even need to be asked, in fact he posed the question himself on Wednseday.

"If you said ‘who is a newcomer or new player who's made the best transition?'"

He slightly hesitated, then answered his own question: "(Koron) Crump."

Graham called the junior college transfer relentless, saying he's been impressed with how Crump has listened and adapted well.

"He's a guy that he won't always do it right, but he's gonna do it 100 mph and he's got a lot of athleticism, and he's gotta continue to be more physical. But he's a guy that out of all of the newcomers, he's really stood out to me the most."

It's been long-noted that the Sun Devils are in need of a Devilbacker, an athletic edge rusher who can consistently provide pressure on opposing offenses. If Crump continues to impress, he'll surely earn at least an opportunity to fulfill that role which was just vacated by Pac-12-leading sack artist, Antonio Longino.

Defense coming into its own

JoJo Wicker garnered praise from his head coach following Wednesday's session.

"(JoJo) is really gifted," Graham said. "When he has a knowledge and understanding of what he's doing, he's got a chance to be special. He's not right now, but he's got a chance to be, but I love his attitude. He's a dynamic player for us that can really, I think, is a guy that needs to fill that role much like maybe Will Sutton did. That front three -- Ami (Latu), Tashon (Smallwood) and JoJo -- are pretty special."

While the secondary continues to be sorted out, any type of success the ASU defense has in 2016 begins with the play of the front seven (and more importantly, the defensive line). Graham has noted his down linemen group as a strength, and even went on to praise George Lea, Renell Wren, Christian Hill and Jalen Bates for their continued development through the spring, too.

Still, the secondary is an important cog, and during the practice the group stood out on the stat sheet, tallying three interceptions.

One pick was made by an unidentified walk-on player whom Graham referred to as "20" when asking for help recalling who had made the other two interceptions during the scrimmage.

"(With the third team) we had an interception for a touchdown today," he said. "I can't tell you who it is."

We'll keep an eye out.

For the known players there this year, however, the plan is to display the required versatility to manage in whichever facet they're called upon.

"They've been working us in, dual training us and stuff," defensive back Kareem Orr said. "I like that. I think everybody is adjusting well to it as well."

Orr, coming off a freshman campaign during which he nabbed six interceptions, has assumed the alpha-role in the secondary.

"I'm just working hard this spring," he said. "Doing everything I need to do, communicating on the back end, make sure every body else is doing it. Doing my job, pretty much. Trying to be a leader for us this year -- we need it."

The state of the running game

Running back Kalen Ballage gave an honest assessment of the offense's scrimmage performance during his presser.

"You know, we kind of started off slow," he said. "Like we said, we're two weeks in and learning a whole new offense, so some things are just not as fluid as they should be, but we're moving along and getting better."

Graham and other coaches have tabbed the duo of Demario Richard and Ballage as the offensive standouts to this point in the offseason, but the latter said that there's still parts of the offense that needs to come together. Ballage said that the two players are still very involved, just differently in hopes of giving defenses different looks.

When asked if he felt more pressure with there being a new face under center at quarterback, he showed determination.

"I feel like other teams think that (there's more pressure on the running game," he said. "I feel like they're gonna try and key on us. And when they do that, we're gonna be able to hurt them in other areas and in other aspects. I believe in every quarterback we have, and when it comes down to it, whoever's the starter, he's gonna be great, and he's gonna do a good job."

On what's the deal for Saturday

For the team's final spring practice, they'll be at ASU's soccer stadium. It's also only open to season-ticket holders.

Heads up: there will be no scrimmage or tackling on Saturday, according to Graham.

"We won't scrimmage Saturday. It'll kind of be just a regular practice, sort of a fan appreciation-type deal," Graham said. "There'll be a lot of interactive stuff with our fans that are there. It'll be very much controlled. There will be no tackling or anything like that."