Both offensive coordinator Rob Likens and defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales each spoke about the bye week and the progression of the team as they head into their sixth game of the season.
Progression of the team
Likens has been pleased with where the offense’s progression has been so far into the season. With Jayden Daniels and the offensive line being more comfortable, Likens believes that the non conference games aren’t anything to look at...it’s the conference games.
“You kind of kick those out a little bit and I look at the last two conference games where we are at and look at the drives and the drives we put together and the results,” Likens said. “There’s a lot of places where we can improve but with what we have got going on right now, I think we are in a good spot.”
He also added that the offense has missed out on some explosive plays but in the two games against Michigan State and Cal, both ranked road games, the team had a gameplay.
“We went into the Michigan State game and the Cal game with a very similar game plan,” he said. “You are going to have shot opportunities but if you miss those and you have the game plan of going into with ball control and you are going to run the ball more, those opportunities you gotta hit them or you are not going to have those explosive plays and I think that attributes to it right now.”
O-line changes with Cade Cote returning to practice
Likens had iterated earlier in the season that he wants to keep the same starting five at o-line for the rest of the season. Now, senior center Cade Cote has returned to practice after recovering from a broken foot that he suffered before the first game of the season. Cote has taken reps with the second team. Likens said that if he is ready to go, “Then we will definitely roll him in there and get him some reps.
Another offensive lineman who has been taking reps at right tackle is Roy Hemsley. He took over for Steven Miller after Miller left the Cal game with an injury. Likens pointed out that a few series of play for the second team guys is all healthy competition.
“I think it creates great attitudes at practice because you know even if you are a second team guy you know you are going to play in the game so it keeps your concentration during practice,” Likens said. “It really helps even if you rotate them in for a series.”
Update on Cornerback Kobe Williams injury
Gonzales has spoken highly of Williams as he is dealing with a broken middle finger that is below the knuckle. He isn’t worries about Kobe because that’s who he is.
“Defensive wise, he is the most consistent and might be physically or mentally the toughest kid on our side.” Gonzales said about Williams and his injury.
Williams was on the sidelines during the bye week practices but will be back taking reps on Tuesday. He will have a splint on his index and middle finger, followed by being wrapped and having to play with a club.
Gonzales says injuries like Williams hurt like heck the day after and he usually finds out how tough the player is mentally. However, he won't question the captains toughness.
“I don’t question Kobe’s toughness at all.”
Washington State Preparation
Everyone in college football knows what kind of offense Mike Leach runs at Washington State. The air-raid offense always catches college football fans eyes as the team puts up 50 points seemingly easily. Gonzales knows what's to come and he is preparing for the Cougars to pounce and be ready to steal a win.
“He’s called his team out so they are going to come out here fired up with their hair on fire ready to go,” Gonzales said. “He’s a really good football coach that will have those guys. He says things and he believes in them and he has a way of getting his message across to his team.”
Leach made the comments about his football team that spread like a wild fire because of the words he used to describe his teams after their loss to Utah. He called his team fat, dumb and entitled.
Gonzales doesn't think those comments broke the team and he believes that they will be coming to Sun Devil Stadium ready to fight.
“I don’t take it they are going to fold on him because that’s not the culture that they built up there,” Gonzales said. “They are going to come in here ready to whoop our tail, so our boys better not feel good about themselves and know what challenge we have. He will have his boys ready to prepare and plus they have the extra week like us to get ready, so they will be healthy.”
That extra bye week has given the Sun Devils defense a chance to have players rest and return back healthy after three straight physical games versus Michigan State, Colorado and California.
“I like the way our guys are playing in the physicality portion of it so this bye week was good to get hose guys healed up,” Gonzales said. “I say it all the time, ‘if you don’t hurt, you ain’t a good football player.’ We got some guys dinged up but the good thing is that they practiced this week and there was a lot of good energy at practice this week which is good.
“They will get a couple of days off now and we then will start back on Sunday and we will get after them. Sunday there will be a lot of energy, especially from the coaches on Sunday, I promise you that because they will get lazy after being off for two days. We will have some fun.”