Spring Football is about two and a half weeks away. But it’s never too early to start talking about football.
ASU begins their spring practices on March 18. Spring ball is an optimistic time for every team in the country. No matter what last year’s record was or how many seniors are lost, every team looks at spring ball as a rebirth.
For the ASU football team, fans and alumni, Spring Football is a curious look at a football program trying to balance expectations, excitement and reality. ASU is the reigning PAC-12 South Champions. The Sun Devils are looking to build on two consecutive winning seasons. Year three of the Todd Graham era is understandably filled with optimism.
But there is work to do. Nobody is more aware of that than Head Coach Todd Graham himself. After two years of success, Graham and his staff are looking to take the next step. They want to win a conference championship and play in the Rose Bowl.
The retooling begins on defense. ASU has to replace 9 starters from last year’s defense. That’s a huge task, no matter who you are.
Good defense begins with proper alignment. If a defensive unit is lined up wrong, it can give up an easy touchdown in an instant. A big part of retooling the ASU defense is cultivating new leadership to make sure the entire defense is checking into the correct alignment. This isn’t as easy of a task as one might think. The vast amount of variations in offensive formations can challenge a player’s individual and team “rules”. Throw in different concepts such as down and distance and whether the ball is in the middle of the field or on the hash mark–and you have the potential for confusion.
So, coach Graham not only has to find the most talented players to put on the field, he has to find the right chemistry of players that will do the correct assignment and be in the right place.
Spring ball will be the opportunity begin that process. Roles will become more defined. Capabilities and limitations will be more apparent. Leaders will emerge. That’s what makes spring football so magical.
Of course, nothing will be solidified until preseason practices conclude in August, but Spring football begins the on-field auditions for playing time. It’s also the onset of building the mentality, identity and “habit of mind” that is critical of every defense and every team.