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ASU Football: Spring practice notebook No. 9: Devils run through situational drives

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Defense looked good first and then the offense started to come together

Jordan Kaye

The Arizona State Sun Devils were back under the lights at Kajikawa Practice Field Friday night. They were in full pads, tackling each other and even ran through very detailed, situational drives during the last 35 minutes of practice.

Last practice: Thursday, March 29

Next Practice: Tuesday, April 3 (9:30 a.m.)

Music

Powerglide (Rae Sremmurd Feat. Juicy J)

Injury update

Ryan Newsome, Ryan Jenkins, Mason Walter, DeMonte King, Ceejhay French-Love, Koron Crump and Deion Guignard each entered the bubble early, missing the remainder of practice.

For the second straight practice, running back Trelon Smith was not at practice. Afterwards, head coach Herm Edwards said that Smith was attending to family matters. Fellow running back Mark “Goose” Cosgrove was also gone for reasons we’re unsure of, so outside linebacker Abe Thompson took reps with the second team runnings backs for the second-straight practice along with walk-on Brandon LaMarche.

Red zone struggles

For about 20 minutes the Sun Devils ran simulated series from inside the redzone. The first and second-team offenses and defenses would alternate drives as the offense tried to punch the ball in.

That didn’t happen very often.

In that red zone simulation, the first and second-team offenses combined for 15 plays and only managed to score one touchdown — a three-yard run by tailback LaMarche.

In that 15-play span, the defense only forced one turnover, though. In the middle of the drill, Manny Wilkins lofted a corner fade for N’Keal Harry but put a little too much on it. Safety Langston Frederick was able to bolt to the corner and make a crafty over-the-shoulder interception in the endzone — barely getting his foot down.

The offensive struggles weren’t missed opportunities by the offense, either, the secondary’s coverage of the Devils’ receivers was superb. New defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales’ 3-3-5 zone defense emphasizes the secondary, and ASU seems to be utilizing it well so far.

Many of Wilkins’ passing lanes were clogged and his receivers were covered, so he often had to just take off with the ball or throw a little dump pass to one of his recievers (usually Eno Benjamin).

Offense looks great in situational drives

The coaches gave both offenses the same situation: You have the ball on your own 20 with 1:20 left in the game, one timeout and you need a field goal.

Wilkins and the first-team offense took the challenge first.

After an incompletion to Eno Benjamin on the first play and then a short 6-yard pass to wide receiver Terrell Chatman on the second, Wilkins and Co. had their first taste of adversity with a 3rd-and-4.

The coverage on his receivers was tight downfield, but Benjamin leaked out to the flat and Wilkins hit him with a quick pass. Benjamin had the yards he needed with the catch but he just kept running down the sideline before getting pushed out of bounds almost 30 yards downfield.

ASU’s offense then started to click.

Wilkins hit Harry on the sideline after that, and then Benjamin got the first down on another short pass. The only problem was the clock.

The first-team offense was forced to try a 41-yard field goal with three seconds left and kicker Brandon Ruiz missed it.

The second-team offense, manned at quarterback Blake Barnett, trotted out to the field next and didn’t find much success early.

After getting one first down via a short pass to Trevor Russell, LaMarche dropped a short pass and then Barnett was sacked.

It was 3rd-and-long, a down that ASU’s defense had tons of trouble with a year ago. Maybe it was something the coaches told them, or they were working on something, but the defense wasn’t in a prevent defense at all. They were playing tight, and their safeties were only about 15 yards deep.

On the ensuing play, the receivers got behind the Devils’ secondary and Barnett hit Chatman on a deep pass of at least 40 yards.

Barnett then spiked the ball and threw an incompletion to Curtis Hodges in the endzone from 25-yards out with only 15 seconds left.

Somehow, though, on the next play, Harry checked into the game for the second-team defense. Maybe he was trying to get revenge for their failed drive.

Regardless, though, even with the defense playing further back on another 3rd-and-long, Harry got behind them and grabbed the touchdown with 3 seconds remaining.

Dillion Sterling-Cole getting some second-team reps

Cole got a few chances to run the second-team offense during the red zone drills and looked solid. There were a significant amount of designed runs called when he checked in but then as the plays went on, he got to show off his arm a little.

His first throw of the drive, though, was rough.

He threw a short out-route and missed his target significantly. Not only that, but the ball was wobbling the whole time.

Him and the offense were lined up at the 15-yard line and on the very next play, the junior showed that his wobbling pass was only a fluke. Hodges ran a crossing route deep down the field and Sterling-Cole fired a bullet in traffic to a tightly-covered Hodges.

The throw was ridiculously impressive, probably the best one of the night.

After it, too, Wilkins sprinted over to Sterling-Cole yelling, “Yes, Dillion, yes.”

A little scuffle

After one of the red zone drills, offensive lineman Steven Miller and linebacker Malik Lawal got into a little shoving altercation after it looked like the two got tied up on the play.

I didn’t notice any coach’s running out there or yelling at the two afterwards and judging by Chase Lucas’ response of just screaming, “I love football,” I doubt it was too serious.

Herm Edwards clip of the night

Also, for Edwards full press conference after the practice, click here.

First-team offense

QB: Manny Wilkins

RB: Eno Benjamin

WR: N’Keal Harry, Kyle Williams, Frank Darby

TE: Tommy Hudson

OL: Tyson Rising (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Cohl Cabral (C), Steven Miller (RG), Quinn Bailey(RT)

Second-team offense

QB: Blake Barnett

RB: Brandon LaMarche, Abe Thompson

WR:Curtis Hodges, Terrell Chatman, Trevor Russell

TE: Jared Bubak, Mark Walton

OL: Mason Schell (LT), Corey Stephens (LG), Jonathan Sanchez (C), Cade Cote (RG), Zach Robertson (RT)

First-team defense

DL: Shannon Forman, Renell Wren, Jalen Bates

LB: Khaylan Thomas, Jay Jay Wilson, Malik Lawal

CB: Kobe Williams, Chase Lucas

Tillman: Evan Fields

S: Langston Frederick, Jalen Harvey

Second-team defense

DL: Darius Slade, D.J. Davidson, Jordan Hoyt

LB: Parker Higgins, Kyle Soelle, Nick Ralston

Tillman: Tyler Whiley

CB: Terin Adams, Darien Cornay

S: Caleb McShanag, Dominique Harrison (Dasmond Tautalatasi took a few reps in Harrison’s place)

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For other updates and videos from Tuesday’s practice, follow @jdestinsports and @jordan_kaye23 on Twitter.