Devils Den Blog

Spring Scrimmage #1 Summary

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With only five practices under their belt, the 2012 Sun Devils held their first spring scrimmage in Sun Devil Stadium Saturday March 31st.

The Sun Devils entered the field through the tunnel just like it was a game day.  Special teams first. Next the offense in all white, and then the defense in all black.  Warm-ups had a completely different feel than the previous regime.  Every motion, drill, and movement was for a specific purpose.  All performed under the eye of the position coach.  The running backs did route running, catching, and some light blocking with Coach Larry Porter.  The tight ends warmed up with proper stance and motion movement drills, followed by a great drill of blocking, releasing into the flat, and catching.  The wide receivers ran strong hitches and out routes while the QBs warmed up their arms.  Coach Mike Norvell was bounding around the field shouting words of encouragement to his QBs and WRs.   The defense started together as a unit where they did some formation work while reading motion on the offense.  Then the defense broke into its positional groups where the linebackers worked on shuffling through cones then squaring up to tacklers.  The secondary did a lot of cutting to begin their warm-up, followed by hands work, and ending with cutting to a ball carrier while squaring up and wrapping.  Coach Ball had positive but strong words for several players during warm-up while watching each and every member of the secondary.  Coach Randolph had his defensive line working on lining up and blasting off the snap as their warm-up.  It’s clear that this coaching staff is going to continuously teach these kids in every minute of spring practice.

The scrimmage started out with the first team defense dominating the first team offense, led by Mike Bercovici, on a 3 and out series.  On 3rd and long, Coach Randolph blitzed all 3 of his linebackers and Israel Marshall got there for the sack.  As the scrimmage developed, it was clear the offensive mentality of this team is going to be running the football.  The offensive run plays were downhill, between the tackles, with some counters.  Of course, this offensive scheme goes right into the strength of our defense.  Running back James Morrison shined on the field.  Every time he got the ball, Morrison had punishing runs up the middle and he was hard to bring down.  He maintained his strength throughout the session as he continually got hit, fell forward, and rushed back to get the ball again.  When the offensive play calls go away from the down hill run, look for the team to try to get Jamal Miles and Rashad Ross the ball in space.  Both Miles and Ross had a play for 30+ yards out running defenders.  Deantre Lewis returned to the field for the scrimmage and looked good.  Lewis had 1 touchdown running and 1 touchdown receiving on a beautiful route around linebacker Grandville Taylor.  Lewis didn’t have that same killer explosive high gear one would remember from 2010, but that isn’t to be expected this soon after his injury.  Lewis shifted his way strongly through the line for some nice positive yards, and the fact that he is on the field is a positive for the team.  As for the three-way quarterback battle, no quarterback shined over the other.  Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank, and Taylor Kelly had average afternoons in the new offensive system.  Each showed their strengths and each had some things that need to be worked on if they want to start against NAU.

The defense had a great afternoon, and the fans got to sit right behind Coach Randolph and watch him coach up these players.  Kipeli Koniseti and Carl Bradford were all over the field making numerous tackles during the game.  Koniseti had multiple sacks on blitzes, and linebacker Marshall showed some impressive speed in coverage.  Defensive tackle Will Sutton continues to lead as he is the first to sprint into position, and he made the first tackle of the morning in the backfield.  After about an hour, Coach Randolph pulled the defense around him and told the defense that they were doing well, but he wanted takeaways as the defense had zero up until that point.  Safety Alden Darby, cornerback Robert Nelson, and cornerback Osahon Irabor responded with big interceptions in the second half of practice.

Placekicker Alex Garoutte struggled again, but he ended the scrimmage with a nice mid-40s field goal.  Several minutes earlier after pulling a kick left, Coach Todd Graham spent some time coaching Garoutte.  You could see Graham was working to build Garoutte’s confidence by talking about Garoutte’s focus and mental clarity while lining up.   Josh Hubner as usual had some massive punts with his one shank.  True freshman long snapper Easton Wahlstrom has a nice fast snap, but he is small out there in blocking situations.  Wahlstrom should be a high school senior right now.

Two plays really stood out.  H-back Marcus Washington caught the ball in the flat, turned it up field, and hurdled a diving defender. Washington was a stand-out hurdler in high school, and while his form was a bit rusty, he got over the defender and rumbled down the field for more yards.  The second was Darby’s interception.  Darby read the route by Middlebrooks and went straight to the ball for the INT.  Darby beat Middlebrooks to the spot and put a good lick on Kyle while safely catching the ball and getting Coach Randolph a takeaway.

Overall, this was a first scrimmage in a new football team system.  The team did commit too many penalties.  The new quarterbacks had their struggles, especially with the down field passing.  It didn’t help that their new wide receivers had some key drops.  However, the two hour scrimmage was passionate, and the players were focused and open to coaching.

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