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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."

Notes

  • Graham talked to his team a lot Saturday about body language and intensity of purpose on game days.

    "I want your eyes burning out of your head ready to compete," he said.

  • Graham and ASU Associate Athletic Director for Football Tim Cassidy attended the funeral of senior offensive tackle Jamil Douglas' grandmother Friday in California. Douglas missed practices last Monday and Tuesday to be with family.

  • ASU's starters and Graham participated in the ALS awareness ice bucket challenge following Saturday's Mock Game at Sun Devil Stadium. A day earlier, ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson took the challenge and was doused by the school's mascot, Sparky.

  • Tempe, Ariz., Marcos de Niza High School standout Cassius Peat attended ASU's practice Saturday. Peat is a top Devil backer prospect.

  • Senior safety Damarious Randall was the team's punt returner in that segment of the mock scrimmage. Junior walk-on Donnie Shields was the long snapper.


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