TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State concluded its spring session following its spring game Saturday afternoon. The Maroon team, composed of the Sun Devils’ first-team offense and defense, defeated the White team, 60-3, in a full-length scrimmage in front of 4,624 inside Sun Devil Stadium.
Players worked through one-on-one, seven-on-seven and W-drills prior to the scrimmage.
For the first time in 2017, fans had the chance to see ASU play 11-on-11 football. The viewing started with an eight-yard touchdown run by Kalen Ballage that gave the Maroon squad a lead during the opening drive.
The offense’s rushing attack, spearheaded by the senior duo of Ballage and Demario Richard, looked impressive. Assistant head coach John Simon, the Sun Devils’ running backs coach, noted that the two seniors have much to play for entering their final season.
“Now is the time for them to grow to their own,” he said. “To take the things that they’ve learned, take the coaching that they’ve received and just begin to grow in their own.
“A coach can only you so far, but the great ones have to be willing to take it further on their own.”
The quality and depth of the backfield hasn’t come under question at any point this offseason. However the most pressing concern Sun Devils’ fanbase has displayed may surround whom ASU’s starting quarterback will be.
On Saturday, reps under center for the Maroon team, representing the Sun Devils’ starting unit, were split between Manny Wilkins and Blake Barnett.
“I thought both of them did a good job managing the ball and getting everybody lined up,” said head coach Todd Graham. “I thought it was good. It was a good day.”
The two each had success throughout the day, in great part due to play of the team’s receiving corps, despite not having N’Keal Harry available (injury).
Junior Jalen Harvey was a menace out of the slot, hauling in several passes on the day. His effort was combined with that of newcomers John Humphrey, Jr. and Ryan Newsome, who both found the end zone multiple times for the Maroon squad.
Humphrey hauled in three touchdowns during the scrimmage, including a 36-yard pass from Wilkins and another deep pass of over 20 yards from Barnett.
3 for 3! @Manny_Wilkins5 connects again with @TEAM_JHUMP for their 3rd TD.— Sun Devil Football (@FootballASU) April 15, 2017
“It felt great, man,” he said. “I’m glad that football season is here. No more waiting—it’s my time now.”
“John’s impressive,” Graham said, before mentioning the play of his other wideouts. “Our receiving core has been impressive.”
Defensive back Maurice Chandler forced the game’s lone turnover when he picked off an errant pass from Dillon Sterling-Cole after the quarterback was pressured by defensive end JoJo Wicker. Chandler, who saw time at both corner spots with the Maroon squad, returned the interception 65 yards for a touchdown.
“It makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “We just gotta know and take it step by step each day.”
He's gone @Mochantheman2 with the Pick-6. pic.twitter.com/cV9e8Tz12h— Sun Devil Football (@FootballASU) April 15, 2017
Graham said he thought the defensive unit looked impressive.
“Our most improved unit has been our backend,” Graham said. “The defense has been impressive all summer.”
ASU’s regular season begins on August 31, when the Sun Devils host New Mexico State at Sun Devil Stadium.
- Quarterbacks Bryce Perkins and Brady White, safety Marcus Ball, as well as wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Cameron Smith suited up, but did not participate in the scrimmage.
- Kicker John O’Brien made two kicks, including a 24-yarder.
- Several former players, including Alden Darby, Jordan Simone, De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes, Kody Kohl, Matt Haack and Zane Gonzalez attended the game.
- ASU offered several local high school recruits being hosted as visitors following the contest.