Wednesday’s practice was a light one, but the subsequent media availability session was not. Following the quick on field session, Ricky Pearsall, Eddie Czaplicki and coach Chris Claiborne gave their thoughts.
ASU has enjoyed a relatively clean bill of health so far on the young season. Aside from Jermayne Lole’s season ending injury in preseason camp, the Sun Devils have been able to stay off the injury report for the most part. Following game one, this trend has continued with one noteworthy exception. DeaMonte Trayanum hasn’t practiced since sustaining an unspecified lower leg injury in the second half Thursday night. It doesn’t seem to be serious. Fellow back Daniyel Ngata was sporting a green non-contact jersey as well.
Run Ricky Run
Junior wide receiver Ricky Pearsall has emerged as the lead dog in a very talented but largely inexperienced receiver room. The local product (Corona Del Sol) is relishing his role as a leader and high profile target.
“It was a pretty good start, we had a few completions down the field in the beginning of the game. Going forward we’ll be throwing the ball a little bit more than we did last week when the run game was clicking,” Pearsall said of the week one air attack. “There’s always things we can get better. We’re used to coach Hill’s offense now and we’re moving fast. Personally I’m a really confident player, wherever I can help my team and wherever the coaches need me I’ll be there.”
Special Teams, Special Moment
As a whole, the Arizona State special teams unit didn’t put together a great performance last week. On individual levels, however, return man DJ Taylor and punter Eddie Czaplicki were highlights. Taylor was named Pac-12 player of the week for his efforts in the return game, while Czaplicki made his collegiate debut with a gorgeous first quarter bot to pin Southern Utah on the one yard line.
“It was definitely a confidence boost, I knew I’d prepared well but to go out even when I had all the nerves and do that, I knew I could just trust my training and do my job,” Czaplicki said of his inaugural punt. “I realized this was the big time in warm ups, when I went out for my first kick I was really focused even though it was only the second time I had kicked in the stadium.
We got to speak to linebackers coach Chris Claiborne for the first time in nearly a month Wednesday. The first-year cosch heaped praise on his starters, while acknowledging the impressive play of the defense as a whole as well as the backup linebacker unit.
“We’ve been getting better as a unit, playing together. Again, we want to build as much depth as we can everyday within our group,” he said. “At the end of the day we want to strive for perfection, and doing your job. Sometimes doing your job doesn’t mean making an interception or a great play, it’s being where you’re supposed to be when the play finishes.”
On the Maturation of the Starting Trio
“They (Merlin Robertson, Kyle Soelle and Darien Butler) are just maturing as young gentlemen. You forget sometimes they’re just kids, but they’re doing a great job of communicating and that helps us get things done.”
UNLV’s running game is no joke. Claiborne shed some light on how his guys have been preparing to stifle it.
“You have to be gap sound. Do your job. Whatever coach calls be ready, don’t freestyle. Just got to go out and execute. When coach Pierce calls your number, make a play.”
Saturday night’s home game kicks off at 7:30 pm.