After getting knocked out of Arizona State’s game against USC on Saturday, ASU sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins could be back sooner than expected.
ASU head coach Todd Graham said on Tuesday Wilkins is “questionable this week to doubtful” to play Saturday against the UCLA Bruins. Graham said he thought Wilkins’ lower left leg injury was going to be worse than it was after watching the tape, but it is really a “pain thing” and how much pain Wilkins can tolerate.
“He’s out of the boot and rehabbing and we will see how it goes,” Graham said. “We got good news yesterday and I will look for him to be back soon. Whether he can make it this week or not I don’t know.”
At ASU’s Tuesday morning practice, Wilkins was lightly jogging through the warmup line in high-top cleats and looked a lot further along than a player who was wearing a walking boot and on crutches in the second half of ASU’s 41-20 loss to USC.
Wilkins was noticeably limping with his left ankle heavily taped, but still went through the entire warmup and was throwing the ball back and forth with redshirt freshman quarterback Brady White during position drills.
“He’s a fighter,” White said. “He’s a competitor and I know that’s my brother and I know he’s not going to get taken out of the fight and obviously the video looked pretty ugly but he has responded pretty well so we’re just going to continue to rally around him and he’s going to be a leader for this team like he always is and I’m going to do whatever I can to help lead this team as well and take over and if I get called on Saturday I’m going to help us win the game.”
Wilkins was injured on Saturday after getting sacked by USC sophomore defensive tackle Rasheem Green with 1:19 left in the second quarter. The signal-caller was slow to get up and was holding his left leg as trainers came to look at him on the field.
Wilkins was able to walk off the field with some assistance and then went into the locker room. He came out for the second half was in a walking boot and with crutches on the sidelines. Before getting injured, Wilkins was 13-of-21 for 148 yards with one interception.
On Monday, Graham said x-rays were negative and Wilkins wouldn’t be out for an extended period of time. If Wilkins isn’t able to go this weekend against UCLA, White could get his first start of his collegiate career.
“That’s not our first choice,” Graham said. “Our first choice is to have our starter so I’m really confident in Brady. Great character, smart guy.”
White played the whole second half for ASU on Saturday night in place of Wilkins. When White entered the game, ASU was already trailing 27-6 and the game was approaching halftime.
“I’ve known the kid ever since I’ve been here and it’s just starting to go out there and unfortunately Manny went down and that’s not good, but Brady went in there and took charge and did really well, especially in the situation we were in,” ASU redshirt freshman running back Nick Ralston said.
White, 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, finished Saturday’s game 6-of-13 for 80 yards and one touchdown.
“I think he (White) did exactly what he should have done,” ASU senior wide receiver Tim White said. “Coming in and just being thrown into that spot I think he did a good job and now he has time to go through his reads and figure out the offense in the starting position role so I feel like he’s going to take big jump and mature a lot.”
Despite four straight three-and-out’s by ASU’s offense to start the second half, Brady White finished the game with two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter. ASU only gained 11 yards total in the third quarter -- 10 rushing yards and one passing yard.
It was Brady White’s first significant game action after playing one snap in a goal line scenario against Northern Arizona.
Tim White said he has built a chemistry with Brady White through fall camp and they are comfortable with each other on the field.
“Manny can run, but Brady can run a little bit too so it’s going, we are going to try to work our run game and pass a lot and I don’t think it changes anything schematically, but we are going to get out there and have fun and enjoy the game,” Tim White said.
Ralston said the team has “100 percent” confidence in either Wilkins or White and he’s “excited” to see White play this week.