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August 24, 2014
Starting spots still up for grabs
Even as Arizona State had a mock game Saturday, there's still some uncertainty as it relates to the final depth chart ahead of Thursday night's opener against Weber State. Most of the volatility is on the defensive side of the ball.
"I think there's still a lot of competition," ASU coach Todd Graham said.
The Sun Devils will find out Tuesday whether redshirt freshman safety Marcus Ball will be cleared to play Thursday. Ball was not dressed for the mock game but has been practicing sans contact in the last week.
If Ball doesn't play, junior Jordan Simone is expected to get his first career start a week after earning a scholarship from Graham.
Elsewhere, a competition continues at field corner, where true freshman Armand Perry is pushing junior Solomon Means.
The ASU defensive line depth chart remains largely in flux, with senior Marcus Hardison a starter at end being the only rock-solid reality. True freshman Tashon Smallwood is very likely to start at the 3-technique tackle spot where he's worked since the first week of camp.
Juniors Jaxon Hood, Mo Latu, Demetrius Cherry and true freshmen Renell Wren, Connor Humphreys and Emanuel Dayries are competing for two-deep status. Wren is likely to play as a back up to Hardision at field end. The nose tackle position is most up for grabs, with Hood, Cherry, Latu and Humphreys possible starters.
"None of those (freshmen) guys has disappointed me up front," Graham said. "I think Renell is going to end up paying end for us but eventually he'll be a 3-technique."
Graham said six or seven true freshmen would be on the two deep defensively. Smallwood, projected starting WILL linebacker D.J. Calhoun and Perry are givens. Others will likely be Wren, linebacker Christian Sam. Humphreys, Dayries and safety Chad Adams are other possibilities.
Adams has come on a lot in the last week at safety, Graham said, but depth there appears more solid than cornerback.
"I almost wish I left him at corner because he might be in the starting lineup," Graham said.
"The big thing is, we've got to continue to mature. It's going to be a process. We've got young guys, they've got to mature in a hurry. They're tired of practicing so you get a little distracted but too many mental errors today."
"I want your eyes burning out of your head ready to compete," he said.
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