On the final day of weeklong Camp Tontozona practices, 3042 people showed up for a scrimmage between the Sun Devils’ offense and defense that saw the high-powered offense struggle.
The offense has been one of the most consistent parts of this team throughout Todd Graham’s tenure as head coach, but on Saturday, they struggled to get it together during their scrimmage, as be said the defense “won the day.”
The defense was tenacious and gave the offense no room to work. While the quarterbacks didn’t play lights out, the skill positions players also struggled in the beginning.
Sophomore Blake Barnett felt the offense “came out a bit flat” in the beginning of the day.
Due to the quarterback ineffective play, the receivers didn’t have a great day, as none of them broke 50 yards during the game. Whether it be the ball was overthrown or the defense was harassing their quarterback, the receivers started off slow. Even when the receiver got the ball, most of the time a defensive player was right on top of them and stop them before they did any damage —- of course, unless it was Kalen Ballage.
As the game went on, the group did better, as the coaches went from scrimmage play to an overtime setting (beginning each play from the 25-yard line). The offense finally found its groove and produced some big plays, including a dime thrown by Barnett to sophomore Kyle Williams for a 25-yard touchdown.
Even though the offense did better as the day progressed, that doesn’t justify their bad play in the eyes of redshirt junior Manny Wilkins.
“I think personally I missed a lot of throws, a few throws I shouldn’t miss and I take full accountability for that,” Wilkins said. “I just got to go back and fix those things and we’ll bounce back.”
The running backs did better for themselves in the beginning of the game, as they were able to make plays from what looked out of nowhere. But most often the group found themselves getting a yard or two after every carry. The defense smothered the offensive line on most plays and this didn’t help the backs whatsoever.
When the team began to play in an overtime setup, the backs found themselves pushing through the line and into the endzone for six points. Senior Demario Richard was the most consistent of the backs as he ran the ball 10 times for 51 yards a touchdown.
With 25 days before their first game, the Sun Devils still have some work to do. But from what was seen at camp, the defense looks like a new and improved unit that can do some damage.
“It was very encouraging to see that,” Wilkins said on the defense’s performance. "We have some DBs that came in here, some young DBs that are making some noise and that’s awesome to see. Those guys are playing with confidence and at that position they really need to play with confidence so I’m proud of those guys.”
*All statistical are unofficial and courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics