Camp Tontozona? More Like Camp Payson

PAYSON - After battling record heat in the valley earlier this week, The Sun Devils thought that trekking 100 miles north to Camp Tontozona would reveal Mother Nature's kinder side for a change. Think again. The on and off rains have forced ASU to conduct all their practices so far at Rumsey Field in Payson.

Coach Koetter said that that the biggest drawback of practicing in Payson was the commute. "Half an hour bus ride – no fun. You just got to adjust. We're lucky they have such an awesome facility, and thanks to the City of Payson's Parks and Recreation for letting us use it." The team intended to practice in Tontozona this afternoon, and actually did so for a short while. But a downpour forced them for the third time in a row to board the buses heading west. The ASU coach mentioned that the two worst areas of the field are between the 40's and in one of the end zones, as well as in areas around the field. "We just don't want to tear it (the field) up. If we tear it up we'll ruin it for the rest of the week. Now, we're gonna reach a certain point where we don't care if we tear it up – but we're not at that point yet."

The change of venue didn't do any good in yesterday's practice, but today it was quite different. Even the post-game snack reflected that. "When you practice good you get Popsicles (smile). They paid attention, they listened, they hustled, and they didn't make mental mistakes. They learned how to practice together, cooperate…much better." Following the afternoon practice, Koetter commented: "First two a day at pads...it was sluggish at times, but we got in some good work."

The Sun Devil skipper singled some of his players that shined today. "Brett Hudson continues to be impressive in all phases, not just defense, but also special teams. The speed of a secondary, Mike Williams looks good at practice…Emmanuel Franklin has been breaking off the ball well. He's gotten stronger over the summer. He's not playing with any hesitation…Manny is doing pretty well right now."

When asked to evaluate the running game, Koetter quipped: "You guys all want us the run the ball better on Aug. 16th. Let's just wait until we get into the season and I'll evaluate the running game. You guys want us to be Oklahoma in one day (smile). Come on now…" Earlier in the day the pre-season Associated Press Top 25 poll came out and for the first time since 1999, the Devils were ranked – at #22. Koetter however, put this honor in a practical perspective. "Being 22 didn't help us in practice yesterday, did it? (smile). It's nice for our program. But if we practice many times like we did yesterday, we won't be there for long."

On the injury front there were no serious injuries to report, just a few minor scrapes. "Stephen Berg had a concussion this morning, and will be out a couple of days. Skyler Fulton dislocated his finger, but he came back in. Stephen Smith, a freshman tailback, was held out from contact with a stinger. He'll be back in a day or two. Barton Hammit is back practicing today. Matt Miller is getting very close (according to Miller he's two days away.) " Miler was seen sprinting on the sidelines excessively during practice rehabbing his ailment. Koetter jokingly explains the reason: "We're trying to give Matt Miller a hint. We're working him out so hard so he'll come back to practice. They (the trainers) said that they just need to get that hamstring stronger. It's the same one he hurt before." The ASU coach also stated that Ishmael Thrower had a slight MCL sprain, but is real close to returning. Joey Smith re-injured his shoulder, and this too doesn't look to be extremely serious.

Most of the coaches were sporting shirts with the initials CPC on them. That ream motto stands for Compete with Passion and Character . Koetter explains where this saying originated from: "(Assistant Athletic Director) Jean Boyd came up with that. That's one of the things two years ago that we were missing. We weren't competing very well, we didn't show passion, and we didn't have good character. That (CPC) was our big thing last year. Our players liked it so we carried it over."

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