Wilkins' X-rays negative, White could be in line for start against UCLA

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins left in the second quarter of Saturday's game and redshirt freshman Brady White went 6-for-13 as his replacement.

In two of Arizona State's last three home games against UCLA, backup quarterbacks have played critical roles, and after an injury to ASU starter Manny Wilkins on Saturday at USC, backup quarterback Brady White could make his first career start against the Bruins this weekend.

In 2010, Brock Osweiler came off the bench to replace Steven Threet in a 55-34 victory over the Bruins while Mike Bercovici earned his first career start against UCLA in a 62-27 loss after an injury sidelined then-starter Taylor Kelly in 2014.

After Wilkins was knocked in the second quarter against USC, White led the ASU offense for the final 30 minutes of a 41-20 loss.

ASU head coach Todd Graham expressed confidence in both Wilkins and White during their battle for the starting job during fall camp, and Graham re-iterated his thoughts after White earned the first extensive action of his career against USC.

Great confidence, and Bradys a guy who is interesting,Graham said. Ive talked to him every week about it. Ive talked to him and Dillon (Sterling-Cole) and all of those guys. I mean, youre one play from being in the game. I do think he was prepared when he got in the game. Its tough in those games, because each quarterback is different. So, you want to adapt to what the strengths of each one of them are. I thought he did a really nice job. Hes a guy that watches a ton of film. Hes very dependable. High character guy, very smart. He did a really good job. Ive got a lot of confidence in him.

Graham said Wilkins' X-rays came back negative and said he's already out of a walking boot, but wasn't sure if Wilkins would be available for Saturday's contest against the Bruins.

White finished 6-for-13 for 80 yards against the Trojans and tossed his a 13-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Raymond Epps in the fourth quarter.

If Wilkins can't play Saturday, Graham indicated true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole will be dressed as Whites backup.

Weve been preparing him,Graham said of Sterling-Cole. Obviously Brady is our two guy, and (Sterling-Cole) is our three guy. So, weve been preparing as well as we are preparing for a fourth (quarterback). Depending on how quick Manny recovers, well get guys ready that need to get ready.

Tackling issues persist against USC

After harping on the importance of tackling last week, the Sun Devils failed to break down in the open field against USC playmakers Juju Smith-Schuster and Justin Davis on critical plays Saturday.

Graham said the Sun Devils' coaching staff will need to continuously work on fundamentals with its defense as ASUs angles on tackles and ability to finish plays have cost the team greatly.

On Saturday, ASU's tackling issues and coverage breakdowns forced Graham to adjust the Sun Devils' defensive personnel, especially in the secondary where junior Bandit safety J'Marcus Rhodes struggled.

After Graham pulled Rhodes in favor of junior James Johnson, both senior Laiu Moeakiola and junior Chad Adams all saw action at Bandit safety.

The Sun Devils were also forced to swap out field cornerbacks, as senior De'Chavon Hayes rotated with Texas graduate transfer Bryson Echols throughout Saturday's game.

Its gotten to the point where even players who are not 100 percent healthy yet will have to try to make a difference in the back level of ASUs defense where they lack good technique across the board.

If ASU's personnel in the secondary continues to struggle, it's possible true freshman Kyle Williams could end up playing at bandit safety as well.

Like Hayes who transitioned from offense to defense last season, Williams moved over from wide receiver to safety at the conclusion of fall camp. Though Williams possesses great athleticism, Graham views the transition to the defensive side of the ball as a difficult one.

Its hard, its just like the same transition for a guy like Gump (Hayes),Graham said. I mean hes never played corner in his life. Weve had injuries and things like that. Guys like Maurice Chandler we expected to play. Mo is starting to get healthy. Thats been tough. Its just hard for a person who has not played that position. Theres just so much stuff to learn. Kyles doing a great job learning, and hes going to be a great player for us. Its just getting him ready where he can compete and be ready to play in a game.

Home cooking

Since 2012, Grahams Sun Devils have only lost six games inside Sun Devil Stadium, where ASU is already 3-0 this season.

Last week, Pac-12 schools finished 6-0 at home. 

On Monday, Graham emphasized the importance of winning home games for the purposes of remaining in contention in the Pac-12, especially in a wide open South Division.

You better play well at home,Graham said. Thats the one thing weve been able to do. Weve always for the last four, four and a half years weve played really, really well out here. And you have to win at home. You better win them all at home if you want to compete in this league. And then weve got to play better on the road than what weve played. Thats the reality, you have to be able to go on the road and win. We havent done very well the first few times out, but we cant worry about that. We have to figure out a way to go beat a very, very good UCLA team at home here. We need our fans. We need them loud and proud for this one, because we want to really impact their offense coming in and making it loud for them.

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