ASU Football: Here We Go!


Today, the ASU Football team opens up their official training camp for 2015 in Tempe.  In typical Todd Graham fashion, there will be two workouts scheduled Wednesday.  The returning players will practice in the morning.  The newcomers will practice at night.  Coach Graham typically splits the workouts in this manner for two or three days before he combines all personnel into one practice unit.

Since spring football back in April, the entire ASU football program has been talking about training with urgency.  This urgency is fueled by the impending opening game in Houston versus Texas A&M on Sept. 5th.  Now that camp will be in full swing, spectators will be able to see if that urgent sentiment is true or not.

Besides the typical training camp objectives of getting in shape, perfecting technique and creating team chemistry, coach Graham and his staff have to solidify some “open” positions and foster the creation of an identity for this team.  In using the term “open positions”, it should be noted that all positions are considered open.  Competition for starting jobs begins now.  However, there is a depth chart.  Most of the starters on that depth chart are returning starters from last year’s team.  The holes to fill are for the annual exodus of players who have graduated and/or were drafted into the NFL.

Positions vacated by departed players include:

Left and Right Tackle (offense)

Jamil Douglas and Tyler Sulka are gone.  Now enter Evan Goodman, William McGehee, Sam Jones and Stephon McCray.  McCray is slated to be center Nick Kelly’s backup.  But he’s played other positions.  All of these offensive linemen are talented, but as usual for new starters, they are unproven at the tackle position.  And that tackle position will be critical this year with the presence of a drop back passer in Mike Bercovici.  Tackles are typically matched up with the opponents best pass-rushing defensive ends.  If either of these two new offensive tackles struggle with their footwork or technique to protect Bercovici, it could lead to serious issues with the offense.

Wide Receiver

While there are several talented wide receivers on this team, it would be irresponsible to say that the loss of Jaelon Strong (NFL) and Cameron Smith (injury) will not impact this offense.  Moving DJ Foster out to the slot position will surely create mismatches for the defense.  But you’ve still got to have legitimate receiving threats on the outside.  Ellis Jefferson, Gary Chambers, Eric Lauderdale and newcomer Terrell Chatman have to step up to be targets for Bercovici.


There is a lot of excitement about Mike Bercovici being the starting quarterback for this ASU football team.  He is officially the new starting quarterback, even though he started three games last year, winning two of them.

A couple thoughts on Berco:  First, he is not Taylor Kelly.  While he is no slug, he is not the running, dual-threat that Kelly was.  Because of this, the playbook changes a little bit.  Moreover, the opposing defenses will play it differently as well.  This is not a big secret and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell will make the proper adjustment.  Secondly, and probably more important, is the question about Mike Bercovici’s decision making.  The only knock on Berco since he arrived in Tempe is that he tends to be risky with the football.  He tries to make tough throws in tight spaces.  Those kinds of passes tend to get picked off.  Devils in Detail will be watching to see if Berco has adjusted his game to be a little less reckless with the football.

Defensive End and Safety

Safety Damarious Randall and Defensive end Marcus Hardison are on to the NFL.  Stepping into their spots are safety James Johnson and (most likely) DE Renell Wren.  There are other players vying for this position on the defensive line, but right now Wren is getting the nod.  Johnson is a little more seasoned with some good minutes last season.  Wren certainly looks physically suitable to replace Hardison, but that remains to be seen.

In truth, as stated earlier, there will be position battles all over the field for the next few weeks.  Devils in Detail has just highlighted the more obvious ones to keep an eye on.

But football is back in Tempe.  Sun Devil fans have got to be excited.  This team looks to be experienced and deep.  The expectations are high as the players and coaches are continually speaking victory.  Stay tuned.