ASU Football: Finishing Up at Camp T


Today, at around noon, the ASU football program wrapped up their four day Camp Tontozona experience.  “Camp T” is located just outside of Payson in the mountains of Eastern Arizona.

The culminating event for Camp T was today’s Maroon and Gold scrimmage.  For fans, this scrimmage is a chance to see their Sun Devils in action with the optimism that permeates every program in August.  For players, it’s a chance to cut loose and play.  It’s also an opportunity to show their skills and development to the coaching staff.

As for the coaches, this scrimmage is all about evaluation.  With exactly three weeks remaining until their opener with Texas A&M, there is urgency to evaluate and establish the depth chart.  Today’s Maroon and Gold game, while an event for fans and media, is a paradox for the coaching staff.  It is the final evaluation of fall camp.  Yet, at the same time, it is also the launch point for the preparations for the season.

Head coach Todd Graham has made it clear that when ASU returns from Camp T, there won’t be much work involved with the third-teamers and the scout team players.  From this point on, time constraints require that only the first and second team units get team repetitions in practice.  That’s what makes this scrimmage critical.  Similar to NFL teams that trim their roster after the first pre-season game, this ASU staff has to get the depth chart nailed down in order to maximize preparation in practice.

Perhaps the most talked about decision for the offensive coaches is determining who will back up Mike Bercovici at quarterback.  Going into today’s scrimmage, it was Manny Wilkins.  But the newcomers are making this decision difficult.  Coaches will tell you that it’s a good problem to have.  True freshmen Brady White and Bryce Perkins are both doing well.  Perkins has been especially productive.  While it wouldn’t be a total shock to see one of these freshmen named the backup, Devils in Detail believes that Wilkins will probably stay at #2.  But stand by.

The other question marks for this team that need answering are the wide receiver rotation, the offensive tackles and the Devil-Backer position on defense.  There was still movement and experimentation with different players at these positions at today’s scrimmage.  Monday’s upcoming practice will reveal the coaching staff’s answers to those questions.

Finally, Devils in Detail is curious about Special Teams.  The kicking game units usually take a back seat amongst fans and media during fall camp.  Of course, coach Todd Graham doesn’t view it that way.  Of the three phases of the game, none has vexed coach Graham more than special teams.  It started in 2013 and has led to ASU having their third special teams coordinator in three seasons.  This year, that duty falls on the shoulders of Shawn Slocum.  Coach Slocum has a ton of experience and is generally respected as an exceptional special teams coordinator.  Time will tell.  A turnaround in the return game and the coverage teams is an absolute necessity for this ASU squad with championship aspirations.

Stay tuned for more coverage as the Sun Devils prepare for their season opener on Sept. 5th.