Chris Ball elated with secondary’s depth

Just one day after Marcus Ball put on a white jersey for the first time all year, clearing him to fully participate in practice; he was in the starting lineup at bandit safety. The change added some talent to the starting lineup of the ASU defense and some increased depth to the rest of the secondary. Depth that defensive backs coach Chris Ball raved about after practice.

“It’s the deepest group I’ve ever had,” Ball said of the team’s safeties. “We’ve got some great competition going on there and we’re still going to compete and it’ll be a week-to-week deal. The great thing about it is there are four of them that can play at both safety positions so we’ve got a lot of things that we can do.”

Marcus Ball is one of those four players, along with Damarious Randall, James Johnson and Jordan Simone, each of whom have received reps with the first-team defense in fall practices.

With all eyes on Marcus Ball’s re-entry in the ASU lineup, Chris Ball wouldn’t guarantee that the freshman would see the starting lineup against the Weber State Wildcats next week. However, he had no concerns about the safety’s ability to be in the right place in the Sun Devils defense.

“Mentally he’s fine,” Chris Ball said. “It’s just the physical stuff he’s got to get down. He’s a little bit out of shape, so he has to get back in shape and knock a little bit of the rust off.”

“[Marcus] offers great leadership. He’s a high character guy who is extremely smart; he’s a great communicator, so he brings a lot of leadership to the table.”

While there has been plenty of shuffling at the bandit safety position, the free safety position has been locked down by returning starter, Damarious Randall. Consistently praised by head coach Todd Graham, Chris Ball echoed that sentiment about Randall.

“He’s gotten a lot better, he’s got a really good understanding of the defense,” Ball said. “He’s become a great leader; he comes out here and works hard every day. He’s trying to improve his game every day. He’s working on his tackling; he’s made a commitment to tackling. He’s done a great job.”

With Marcus Ball back in the lineup and Randall snagging all of the first-team reps at free safety, there is decreased time for Simone and Johnson. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Coach Ball.

“Once you bring another guy in to the mix, everyone’s reps kind of fall off,” Ball said. “It’s just great competition. Whenever there’s competition, it elevates everyone’s level of play. James Johnson and Jordan Simone both can really, really help us this year.”

Ball is similarly enthused about the play of the team’s cornerbacks, particularly junior Lloyd Carrington.

“He’s a good leader. He’s not a vocal guy, he leads by example and he’s our best corner,” Ball said. “He’s a silent leader. He leads by example, he’s very coachable and when he does something, it means something. When he says something, it means something.”

Opposite Carrington is a battle between true freshman Armand Perry and redshirt junior Solomon Means that still isn’t decided with just a week until the season kicks off.

“There’s some competition still going on,” Coach Ball said. “Armand Perry has had a great camp. For a freshman to come in and do what he’s done is great. And then Solomon is having a great camp. Solomon’s one of our fastest guys and has demonstrated some great coverage skills.”

Likely out of the starting lineup for now is highly-touted junior college transfer Kweishi Brown, who has instead spent most practices preparing for a nickel cornerback and second-team role.

“He’s learning. This is all new to him,” Coach Ball said of Brown. “He got here this summer and all this stuff was new to him, so it’s going to take a little while.”

With eight days before the team kicks off the season, Ball is confident with the team’s progress but says the team still needs to emphasize improvement on little things before they open up the 2014 season against Weber state on August 28th.

“We just need fine tuning with the proper alignments and knowing where we’re supposed to be. Not giving up any cheap passes that go for touchdowns.

“We’re getting there; we’ll be ready by Thursday. And then we have to continue to get better each week. If we can continue to get better, we’ll be pretty dang good.”/P>

Sun Devil Source Top Stories