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August 7, 2013
Carrington leads in battle for open cornerback spot
After the morning practice new Arizona State players stay and get extra instruction from their position coaches.
One surprising face among the newcomers was starting redshirt senior Osahon Irabor. As they were leaving the field one player jabbed at Irabor saying, "What's up newcomer?"
Irabor laughed and answered back, "They told me I can't wear flip flops."
Irabor comes late to the morning practice and practices in the afternoon session with the newcomers because he is taking a class. While the returning multi-year starter might receive some grief from his teammates, other players are taking advantage of his absence in the morning.
It is common knowledge the starting boundary spot belongs to Irabor. The question this fall is who will be on the other side of the field.
Currently, junior Lloyd Carrington, senior Robert Nelson and sophomore Rashad Wadood are all competing for the job.
"Carrington has been the one who has been the standout I think and developed a lot in the spring and summer," ASU coach Todd Graham said Wednesday. "Very strong and very physical.
"I think right now, Lloyd and Irabor are probably ahead of the game there."
With Irabor off the field in the morning those three corners are getting extra reps, which is helping to prepare them physically and mentally.
"(I'm) just trying to soak up as much as I can from coach (Todd) Graham and coach (Joe) Lorig," Nelson said. "It's just learn, learn, learn. You're never in a position where you can't learn any more so I'm just trying to learn and compete with these guys out here."
Both Nelson and Carrington said they are working to master the playbook to compete for the position.
Carrington has the physical skills to get the job done and said that being the smartest corner on the field will enable him to win a starting nod.
In Wednesday morning's practice the corners and coaches were focusing on pre-snap alignment.
"[Coach] emphasized being at a certain yard maker before the play and then just being able to turn and key on which technique we are going to use just to throw the quarterback off," Carrington said.
While the players are focusing on their cerebral aspect of the game, cornerbacks coach Joe Lorig said they are not forgetting about physical skills at all.
"We're going to be the most physical corners in the country," Lorig said. "So that's my expectation. We're going to have to be to beat the teams like we play like Stanford and Wisconsin."
At Thursday night's practice Irabor will be back practicing with the veterans, which means fewer reps for at least one of Carrington, Nelson and Wadood.
With even more limited time on the field to catch coaches' attention, Nelson said he has to take advantage of every opportunity. Even when he is on the sidelines he said he will watch the corner on the field and go through the footwork in his mind.
Nelson was a back-up corner last season, and often played as a nickel back in man coverage situations. Going into his senior season he knows it is his last chance to change that and believes an attitude adjustment will help.
"If I was having a bad practice, if I started off bad, then the whole practice would be bad," Nelson said. "(Now I) just let my mind know that I have been training too hard and came too far, it's my last year, so I got to make something happen now."
For Carrington the one facet of the game holding him back is communication. He said if he does not do a better job communicating coverage with the safeties he could lose the job.
His solution has been to watch extra film. After practice Wednesday morning he and other teammates were going to break down film even without coaches present.
The way Arizona State's fast paced offense works, the offensive linemen need to be a paradox. They need to be large and thin at the same time.
When Sun Devil offensive linemen like senior tackle Evan Finkenberg and redshirt junior tackle Jamil Douglas started spring ball they were huge.
As they start fall camp this week, their good size is still apparent in all the right places like the arms and thighs, but they have leaned out their guts.
Finkenberg said that is always the plan for strength and conditioning coach Shawn Griswald in the summer.
"Since we are such a high up-tempo offense each game, each day we are trying to get as many plays as possible and we're trying to make sure our conditioning is top par," Finkenberg said. "Coach Griz told us this is the hardest he has ever pushed one of his groups."
The summer conditioning has really made an impact on Finkenberg and shown especially in his foot speed.
In Wednesday morning's practice Finkenberg was able to get to the third level and put a block on a safety in a team drill. In a pulling drill he was moving laterally and to the edge faster than most position-mates.
"I've been talking to our nutritionist a lot, trying to get my diet down, just trying to get my body lean and trying to get as strong as possible for season as best I can and I think I really accomplished that," Finkenberg said.
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