Arizona State opened preseason practice Friday night at the Kajikawa practice fields. The Sun Devils are practicing at night for the first two weeks. Once school starts later this month, they will practice in the morning.

My report

From coach Herm Edwards: “I practice at night because I know you guys don’t like to put sun tan oil on during the day, so we decided to go at night. … What I’ve tried to so is create an atmosphere — it’s been a long day for these guys, for coaches, as well. But this is what a Saturday is before a game. It’s a long day, and I wanted the players to understand that when we get ready to play on Saturday nights, it is a looong day. So everything was structured to a (Game Day).”

Starting temperature: 106.

Ending temperature: 97.

Attire: Shorts and helmets.

Media viewing: Entire practice.

3 takeaways

-As expected, quarterback depth is limited. Although this is the first time Manny Wilkins has gone into camp as the clear-cut starter, he’s not approaching it as such. “I’m competing,” he said. “I’m competing with myself, I’m competing with the guys that are out there.” Even so, he’s No. 1. Sophomore Dillon Sterling-Cole is No. 2. As of now, there’s not a healthy scholarship No. 3, which puts ASU is a dangerous position. “If Dillon has to go in, it might not be the same offense,” Edwards said. “We might not ask him to do as much. Dillon, to his credit, he was pushed into service (as a true freshman two years ago) when he probably wasn’t ready. Now he knows what it feels like. He’s a guy that’s been conscientious all during the spring. He has some athleticism. You watch him out here and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ He can run around, he has a powerful arm. (But) we don’t want anything to happen to Manny. Trust me. I’ve lived in that world before, losing quarterbacks. But if Dillon has to play I’m sure we can do some things that highlight what he does.” Redshirt-freshman Ryan Kelley is still recovering from a shoulder injury. “He’s not even throwing yet,” Edwards said.


Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller discuss ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins and whether Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer will be out of a job.
Diana Payan, The Republic |

The defense has a lot to settle. With the way he wants to play, coordinator Danny Gonzales told me that the first and second teams almost have to be interchangable. On Friday, ASU tried a lot of different guys with the first team. “Who are going to be our (rotation players) in the secondary and with the linebackers?” Edwards said. “We have some guys who can run. If we can get them to run in the right places, I think we’ll be OK.”

A few newcomers look impressive. I’m breaking my own rule here.  Normally, I don’t like to mention newcomers for at least a week because initial impressions can be misleading.  But all along Edwards and staff have said that several newcomers would get a look and that was the case Friday. Defensively, freshman linebacker Merlin Robertson and freshman safety Aashari Crosswell got second-team reps. Offensively, junior-college transfers Brandon Aiyuk (receiver) and Isaiah Floyd (running back) got second-team looks. Freshman receiver Geordon Porter and running back A.J. Carter did as well.   


-Sophomore running back Trelon Smith broke a long run during team action. Smith is battling a trio of newcomers to join sophomore Eno Benjamin as ASU’s lead backs.

-The first-team offensive line looked like this: LT Casey Tucker, LG Alex Losoya, C Cohl Cabral, RG Steven Miller, RT Quinn Bailey. USC transfer Roy Hemsley ran at second-team left guard. 

-Junior receiver N’Keal Harry — a preseason All-American — made a nice diving catch near the sideline.

-Junior Terrell Chatman got the initial first-team reps at the Z receiver position. Chatman is battling sophomore Frank Darby for a starting spot there. Darby turned and caught a Wilkins pass that was thrown slightly behind him for a nice pick-up.

-For some reason, senior linebacker Jay Jay Wilson didn’t always participate in 11-on-11 action. Redshirt-freshman linebacker Kyle Soelle ran in his place. 

-Edwards on senior linebacker Koron Crump, who’s back after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury:  “We’re going to bring him along slow. We’re going to use him in a way where he can knock the quarterback down. That’s what he does.” Crump was an All-Pac-12 second-team selection in 2016.

Up next

ASU is back on the field at 7:20 p.m. Saturday. To start, it appears ASU is letting the public watch the entire session. That could change as the Sun Devils begin to game plan later this month.

ASU fall practice schedule

Friday, Aug. 3 — Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 4 — Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 6 — Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 7 — Practice 7:20- 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 9 — Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 10 — Practice 7:20- 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 11 – Open scrimmage, 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 14 – Practice 7:20-9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 16 – Practice 9:20-11:45 a.m.

Friday, Aug. 17 – Practice 9:20-11:45 a.m.

Practice dates beyond this will be announced later. 

The season opener is Saturday, Sept. 1 against Texas San Antonio.