With rain in the forecast, Arizona State moved Friday night’s practice up an hour. Smart thinking. The Sun Devils had no problem finishing their sixth practice.
ASU is practicing at night for the first two weeks. Once school starts later this month, the Sun Devils will practice in the morning.
“We have a chance to be pretty good on offense, but we were sloppy with the ball. The ball was on the ground way too much. Can’t allow that happen, especially down there in the red area. You got to score. That’s great for the defense, but when you’re the head coach, you have to look at it from both sides of it. It got a little sloppy.” — coach Herm Edwards.
Starting temperature: 96.
Ending temperature: 89.
Media viewing: Entire practice.
Herm Edwards discusses Friday’s ASU practice.
Doug Haller, azcentral sports
Sun Devils set for scrimmage
ASU will scrimmage Saturday night at the Kajikawa practice fields. The session is expected to start around 7:20 p.m. and is open to the public, but the viewing area is limited.
“They’ve convinced me a little bit to do some tackling, but when you watch it (Saturday), watch who’s doing the tackling and watch who’s not involved in that period and I’ll just leave it like that,” Edwards said.
In other words, don’t count on senior quarterback Manny Wilkins and junior receiver N’Keal Harry, among others, doing much.
The practice is expected to last 90 minutes or so. The Sun Devils also will sign autographs. This is the first of two preseason scrimmages. The second — scheduled for Aug. 18 — currently is closed to media and public.
-Edwards on how the secondary in the 3-3-5 shapes up: “As you know, this is one of those defenses that is kind of a little bit of a quandary in how we line up and how we do things, but it’s still predicated on the back end. On what coverages can we live in every week. There’s a certain base coverage package that we have, but then every week as we go into game-planning teams we’ll have certain coverages, so every week you might see something different as far as the back end and how we play things. And it’s important to figure out what every guy can do well so we can put him into position to have success.”
-Something odd: Senior linebacker Jay Jay Wilson — who earned praise all spring — hasn’t run much with the first-team defense this camp. Friday night, he stood beside position coach Antonio Pierce as freshman Merlin Robertson lined up with the first team during team action. I asked Edwards if they were holding out Wilson for a reason. “Yeah, a little bit because Merlin is in there, too, and we want to rest (Wilson) some,” he said. “We kind of know where he’s at; he’s been doing a great job being a leader. You’ll see as this thing starts winding, I’m always (thinking), ‘How many reps does this guy need?”’
-Moving forward, Edwards said he might hold out players such as Harry and sophomore running back Eno Benjamin to keep them rested and healthy. Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales recently told azcentral sports that his goal is to push hard during camp but to allow enough recovery time so that the Sun Devils are in their best shape for their Sept. 1 opener.
-Junior defensive end Darius Slade walked on crutches with his left foot in a protective boot. “You know what? We had a walk-through and he just turned his ankle,” said Edwards, adding that Slade should return by Monday. After opening camp on the second team, Slade had practiced recently with the starters. Sophomore Shannon Forman was in his place Friday.
-Among those out or limited: Junior linebacker Khaylan Thomas, sophomore receiver Frank Darby, senior linebacker Koron Crump, sophomore defensive back Evan Fields, junior tight end Tommy Hudson, redshirt-freshman defensive back K.J. Jarrell and sophomore defensive back Ty Thomas.
-With Hudson out, sophomore Jared Bubak got some first-team reps. Defensively, junior George Lea rotated in with senior Renell Wren at first-team nose tackle.
-Junior receiver Brandon Aiyuk — a junior-college transfer — continues to have a strong camp and took initial first-team reps along side Harry and junior Kyle Williams.
-As Edwards mentioned, the defense for the most part held strong in goal-line situations. Senior Tyler Whiley knocked away a pass in the end zone intended for Harry. Sophomore cornerback Chase Lucas also broke up a pass.
-With Fields out, Whiley continues to get first-team reps at the hybrid “Tillman” position. Senior Dasmond Tautalatasi backs him up.
-Manny Wilkins fumbled an exchange near the goal line, but he got lucky. The ball bounced right back to him and the senior quarterback easily ran into the end zone.
ASU is scheduled to practice at 7:20 p.m. Saturday at the Kajikawa practice fields. Practices are open to the public unless the team moves indoors to the Dickey Dome due to weather conditions.
Monday: — Practice, 7:20-9:30 p.m.
Tuesday: – Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: – Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.
Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/DougHaller. Download and subscribe to the ASU Pick Six Podcast, available on iTunes, Stitcher and the Google Play Store.