Manny Wilkins focused on playing game, not talking much about it

From an external standpoint, there's a difference with Arizona State's 2016 football team that starts with its most visible player.

At least publicly, Manny Wilkins hasn't had a whole lot to say since officially becoming Arizona State's starting quarterback two weeks ago. 

Even prior to receiving that designation from coaches before the team's season opener against Northern Arizona, the sophomore has been very businesslike in dealings with reporters all year.

"This team is just, we're not very loud, we're not very talkative," Wilkins said on Wednesday. "We don't need to do talking, we kind of let our play do everything. When adversity strikes we all kind of come together and lead together."

Whereas previous ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici was very expansive in his answers, Wilkins is almost terse. The style contrast is stark. ASU coach Todd Graham has said on several occasions that he enjoys how this team conducts itself. 

"Leadership comes from your work, not what you say," Graham said on Monday. "I like that he doesn’t say that much. This week, we need to do the same thing and do better every day so that we can go out and have a better Saturday.”

In his weekly press interaction Wednesday, Wilkins maintained a posture that has become very familiar, even predictable. When asked for perspective on ASU's 68-55 victory over Texas Tech, he said, "Just happy to get a win."

His thoughts on this week's opportunity on the road at Texas-San Antonio? "I'm excited to get out there and go get a win," Wilkins said. 

Even after what was by all accounts a very impressive showing in his first start against a FBS opponent, Wilkins didn't reveal much. He play did though, as he completed 28 of 37 passes for 351 yards with two touchdowns and not even a glimmer of anything resembling an interception. 

Though his comments about that game may have been relatively bland, Wilkins didn't lack flare on the field. For the second week in a row he hurdled a defender, this time D.J. Polite-Bray on a play in which he scrambled right, then worked his way back left across half of the field before the familiar leap.

ASU coaches may have held their breath in the moment, but apparently they aren't advising him to not attempt similar plays in the future. 

"We want to be smart, don’t get me wrong, but I like the fact that Manny is a guy who isn’t scared for someone to hit him," Graham said. "He is a guy who could hurt you with his legs. He did a great job in that game really hurting them with his arm. I like that play, it kind of got me fired up. That was a heck of a play.

"I think Manny had an outstanding game taking what they gave him and making the reads that he made. He did a great job of distributing the football and he made a huge improvement from week one to week two. 

Wilkins did admit that he took a step in the right direction last Saturday. He just wants to keep the right frame of mind and overall perspective going forward. 

"Obviously I was a little more comfortable but I mean, I've been ready since beginning of the season and I'm going to continue to better myself every week and better this football team," he said. 

"I've been a believer in myself since I can remember. I just take it game by game, play by play. Things aren't always going to be perfect, things aren't always going to go well and when they do I just got to make sure I keep leading this football team."

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