Arizona State football completed its sixth spring practice Friday at Sun Devil Stadium with nine practices remaining over the next three weeks. The spring game is April 15.
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ASU football coach Todd Graham discusses hiring Danny White and Dave Christensen as consultants. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
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Arizona State football has completed a third of spring practice, five of its allowed 15 practices.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic
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Arizona State football began the second week of spring practice Monday. The Sun Devils also will practice Wednesday and have a closed scrimmage Friday this week.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe/Arizona Republic
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Wide receivers Ryan Newsome and John Humphrey – transfers to Arizona State from Texas and Oklahoma – discuss playing as sophomores in 2017 after sitting out last season. Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, David Wallace/Arizona Republic
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Quarterback Blake Barnett, a transfer from Alabama, is in his first year at Arizona State. He is competing with four returners to be the starting QB.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Schumacher, Nick Oza, Thomas Hawthorne/Arizona Republic
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Arizona State head coach Todd Graham discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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ASU football begins sixth season under coach Todd Graham with five new assistant coaches. (Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports)
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Transfer quarterback Blake Barnett talks about coming to ASU to compete for the starting job on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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ASU football coach Todd Graham talks about the challenge of hiring “good people” and losing them to other schools entering ASU’s 2017 season on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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New ASU offensive coordinator Billy Napier talks about the culture at ASU and working for Todd Graham on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins talks about how his injuries frustrated him last season on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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New ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett talks about his friendship with head coach Todd Graham and his thoughts going into the 2017 season. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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ASU head football coach Todd Graham talks about the two quarterback recruits, Blake Barnett and Ryan Kelley, on Signing Day on Wednesday. David Wallace/azcentral sports
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ASU head football coach Todd Graham talks about top running back recruit Eno Benjamin on Signing Day on Wednesday. David Wallace/azcentral sports
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ASU head football coach Todd Graham talks about ASU’s signees on National Signing Day on Wednesday. David Wallace/azcentral sports
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Here’s a look at some of the top underclassmen planning on entering the 2017 NFL Draft.
USA TODAY Sports
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Head coaches in the college football playoff won’t be the only coaches reaping the benefits.
USA TODAY Sports
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The early front-runner became the first Louisville Cardinal to hoist the prestigious award.
USA TODAY Sports
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Dan Bickley: Let’s not forget, this was never a season of high expectations. But clearly, Todd Graham needs to change some things. Video: azcentral sports
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Todd Graham talks about ASU’s 56-35 loss to Arizona in the Territorial Cup. (Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports)
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azcentral sports’ Doug Haller and Paola Boivin discuss Arizona’s 56-35 beatdown on ASU in the Territorial Cup. (Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports)
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At its annual Legends Luncheon during Homecoming week Friday, ASU honored its 1986 football team, which won the school’s first Pac-10 title and beat Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl. John Cooper, ASU coach from 1985-87, is being inducted into the ASU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Video: Jeff Metcalfe/Arizona Republic
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ASU football completes second week of spring practice
Todd Graham on new consultants White, Christensen
ASU football completes fifth spring practice
ASU football begins second week of spring practice
ASU WRs Ryan Newsome and John Humphrey discuss eligibility
ASU QB Blake Barnett on starting spring
Todd Graham on opening of ASU spring practice
ASU football opens spring practice
Transfer QB Blake Barnett on coming to ASU to compete
Billy Napier discusses first day of ASU practice
Todd Graham talks staffing challenges, 2017 season
ASU offensive coordinator Billy Napier talks working for Graham
ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins on last season’s injuries
ASU DC Phil Bennett on friendship with Graham, 2017 season
ASU coach Todd Graham on QBs Barnett, Kelley
ASU coach Todd Graham on top RB recruit Eno Benjamin
ASU coach Todd Graham on National Signing Day
Top underclassmen entering the NFL draft early
College Football Playoff is lucrative for assistant coaches
Lamar Jackson wins 2016 Heisman Trophy
Strictly Bickley: It’s the right call for ASU to stick with Todd Graham
Todd Graham talks about ASU’s loss to Arizona
Doug Haller, Paola Boivin discuss the Territorial Cup aftermath
ASU honors 1987 Rose Bowl football team
Arizona State held its sixth spring practice Friday at Sun Devil Stadium, completing the second of five weeks of spring workouts.
Coach Todd Graham opening statement: “I thought our guys competed well today. We’ve got a lot of install in, lots of explosive plays today. Last practice offense won, today the defense won. Lots of good work.”
Media viewing period: 30 minutes.
Limited: QB Bryce Perkins, S Marcus Ball, CB Kareem Orr, OL Cade Cote, RB Eno Benjamin, DB Dasmond Tautalatasi.
Out: S Armand Perry, QB Brady White, TE Jay Jay Wilson, WR Cam Smith, LB Drew McIntyre.
After the first two weeks of spring practice, new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett believes the front seven has “a chance” to be good although more linebacker depth is needed and that the secondary “better be” improving like coach Todd Graham said it is.
“We’ve put a lot of stuff in,” Bennett said. “We’re a work in progress, but getting better.”
The second team defense was not good Friday, Bennett said, but the No. 1 defense returned two takeaways for touchdowns (during a period not open to the media). He sees progress in limiting explosive plays that have plagued ASU over the last two seasons, and the Sun Devils are drilling extensively on back pedal and other techniques critical to pass coverage.
“Knowledge is power, you have to know your ability,” Bennett said. “When I was at LSU, I had a 4.7 (40-yard time) safety that could cover Eddie Kennison (a future NFL wide receiver who ran a high 4.2/low 4.3 40) because he had knowledge. He knew when to back pedal, when to weave, when to break. My job is to take those drills and as we’re watching team say what drill is this. You can’t do BS drills. These kids are smart. They’ve got to see the drills you’re doing and want to get better.
“The thing we’ve got to do, however fast (cornerback) Kareem Orr is, I’ve got to get him to play faster. However fast Mo (Chandler, also a corner) is, get him to play faster. You’ve got to play with your mind and your technique fundamentals. It’s crucial.”
In Bennett’s final game at Baylor, the Bears won the Cactus Bowl 31-12 over favored Boise State, not allowing a touchdown the final 90 seconds, forcing three turnovers and recording four sacks.
WEDNESDAY: ASU practice report
“We gave up six points (not counting field goals) in 91 snaps,” Bennett said. “They had 388 yards, but we kept the ball in front of us. Make them earn everything they get and still be aggressive. Sometimes you’re going to give up 10 or 12 yards or maybe even a 40, but it can’t be fatal (go for a touchdown).”
Bennett already is sold on veteran defensive linemen Tashon Smallwood and JoJo Wicker and linebackers Christian Sam and DJ Calhoun as well as Devil backers Koron Crump and A.J. Latu. The development of players such as George Lea, Jordan Hoyt and Renell Wren up front and linebackers Malik Lawal, Khaylan Thomas and Deion Guignard, moved from defensive back, is crucial to the depth and overall soundness of the front seven.
Hoyt is a transfer from UC Davis who redshirted last season. Guignard came from Tyler Junior College (Texas) and played in six games as a sophomore in 2016. He returned an interception for a touchdown Friday and also has been recording some tackles for loss, catching the eye of Wicker.
“I’m more confident and humbled,” said Wicker, now a junior. “It’s a different feeling than last year. It’s just calm. We know what we have to do to win now, and I feel like we’re going to get it done. I’m not saying we’re going to be perfect at everything, but it’s going to be a lot better.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be patient. Maybe it just wasn’t our time (in 2015 or ’16). We’re ready to work and approach it a different way and ready to learn.”
Be better than before
“We’re not interested in anybody being what they were before,” Graham said when asked about the return of Sam, who missed all but one game last season due to injury. “We’re interested in them being better. I’m proud of how they’re working toward that.”
Sam played in 12 games as a true freshman backup in 2014 then started in 2015 when he was the second leading tackler (98).
“He’s got the talent box checked and is responding well,” Graham said. “That’s an experienced group (linebacker) and a talented group. It’s great to have him back out here.”
Watch this video to hear new wide receivers coach Rob Likens when he was using a microphone during a recent practice. “We’re going to hit the field like Braveheart,” Likens says. “Attack, let’s go.”
Graham said Likens, who also has the title of co-offensive coordinator, is “a phenomenal person and receiver coach. I’ve got great confidence in him.” Likens formerly was at Kansas and California.
Former ASU football coach Dirk Koetter, in town for NFL meetings, stopped by to visit with friends from his Sun Devils years (2001-06). Koetter, going into his second season as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, talked after practice with Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Billy Napier.
Linebacker coach Keith Patterson was celebrating the birth of a grandchild Friday.
The Sun Devils will practice at 8:30 a.m. Monday at Kajaikawa practice fields. All practices are closed to the public other than the spring game April 15.
Contact Jeff Metcalfe at 602-444-8053 or at [email protected].