ASU Football: Sights and sounds from day two at Camp Tontozona

ASU quarterback Bryce Perkins has worked with Phoenix-area quarterback coach Dennis Gile to improve his mechanics and the difference is noticeable.

-- Redshirt freshman quarterback Bryce Perkins has noticeably changed his delivery and it's already paying dividends. Perkins worked with Phoenix-area quarterback coach Dennis Gile -- who has trained a number of college and NFL players -- to get more range of motion in his shoulder when throwing the ball. Last year and through the spring he had a tendency to shot-put passes a bit and it sapped his throws of much-needed velocity and limited his ability to get the ball down the field or to the wide sideline on time. Thursday, Perkins hit junior wide receiver Cameron Smith on a deep fade in stride for a touchdown in one-on-ones. It was a throw he probably couldn't have completed last year, and his coaches certainly took note. "What a ball," ASU head coach Todd Graham repeated several times. The play was also enabled by Smith's footwork at the line of scrimmage against defending cornerback Bryson Echols, who was trying to force the route inside where he would have safety help. Smith intentionally used a false step at the line of scrimmage to create the opportunity to beat Echols on the outside. Then Perkins took advantage of the opportunity. The improved throwing mechanics could allow Perkins to compete more seriously in the battle to be ASU's starter this year. 

-- ASU's freshmen wide receivers and defensive backs got some extended one-on-ones Friday in a spirited competition with quarterbacks Brady White and Dillon Sterling-Cole pumping a lot of balls way down the field. Sterling-Cole showed off a big arm and White had several deep throws right on target. But more than anything else, the play of several of ASU's freshmen wide receivers stood out. Nobody looked more ready to play right now than N'Keal Harry, who maximized his seven-inch height advantage over 5-foot-8 cornerback Robbie Robinson on a one-handed touchdown grab on a perfectly thrown ball by White. Robinson was in great position, completely in phase on the rep, but just couldn't get to the ball against the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Harry. On another rep, Robinson was again in perfect position down the field but the throw was just a bit tougher for Harry to come up with and he wasn't able to. The height issue with Robinson won't change but he showed the ability to run with one of the top freshmen wide receivers in the West. Harry wasn't the only freshman receiver to make an impressive play though, as slot receiver Kyle Williams also had a one-handed grab and Jeremy Smith flashed on several reps as well. 

-- Earlier in the session -- in fact, before it had even started -- Harry didn't fair as well. First-year wide receivers coach Jay Norvell grew frustrated with Harry's tardiness, telling him to get taped up when everyone else was already on the practice field. Harry wasn't going to take the field for another two hours as he was working with the newcomers, but it didn't matter. "You were late to the meeting and special teams and you're late now." He may be ASU's top high school recruit in the class but that doesn't mean much at this point. Harry is just another true freshman and he'll be treated as such. If he wants to play, he has to first do all the things that everyone else incorporates as a daily norm. 

-- Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chip Lindsey is very precise with how he wants his wide receivers to run their routes and where he wants the ball placed on the throw by his quarterback. "A space route is not a curl route" Lindsey said of the outside route that creates the exact amount of separation between the No. 1 receiver running the space on the outside and No. 2 receiver running the flat from the slot. "I want the ball out in space" ahead of the slot receiver running the slant so he can catch it at speed. Later, Lindsey worked with one of his receivers by articulating precisely how to execute the curl. "Stop and curl is right back down the stem you came from," Lindsey said. "Right back down the line." "Now sometimes the ball is going to come more outside and that's football." 

-- For the second day in a row sophomore cornerback Kareem Orr came up with an interception in which he undercut a poorly run route that perhaps gave the quarterback a misperception on the play. Sophomore Manny Wilkins delivered a throw to redshirt freshman Terrell Chatman on a meandering route that led to the ball coming out where Chatman wasn't going to be. But Orr was there and he made the play. After tallying a Pac-12-best six interceptions last year as a safety, Orr has moved to cornerback and looked good through two practices in the role. 

-- First year running backs coach John Simon worked with his players on how to set up a linebacker in man coverage in the screen game after redshirt freshman Nick Ralston asked a question that led to a lengthy demonstration. Simon explained how the running back can bring the linebacker to the line of scrimmage by moving vertically toward the A-gap before cutting laterally along the backside of the offensive linemen. The linebacker would be more inclined to mirror the running back by pressing up and as a result get caught in traffic by the defensive tackle next to him and unable to get to the screen throw which would be made to the outside of the tackle. During the practice Simon also worked to plant a seed in the mind of his running backs about taking care of the football, "99 percent ball security is not good enough." 

-- After working extensively on zone blocking concepts Tuesday, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen spent time teaching his group how he wanted them to execute some man blocking plays, including several pull concepts similar to what we've seen from the Sun Devils in recent years. "We don't have to slow down on the pull," Thomsen told his guards coming around two other players toward their target. "We want to chase it and blast that guy." Thomsen was also talking about some missed opportunities last year against Utah, when the Sun Devils really struggled in the run game. "Secure the block at his hip" on the combo block before climbing to the second-level, Thomsen said in a particularly technical demonstration. 

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