Arizona State dealt with injury issues and key personnel losses through the early portion of the season, so it should come as no surprise that the Sun Devils are still dealing with bumps and bruises as they reach the halfway point of their year.
After sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins suffered an ankle injury against USC in the Sun Devils' 41-20 loss to the Trojans on Oct. 1, redshirt freshman quarterback Brady White went down with a season-ending foot injury in the fourth quarter of the Sun Devils' 23-20 victory over UCLA on Saturday.
White's injury forced ASU to burn the redshirt of freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole, who threw an interception on his lone pass in place of White, and Sterling-Cole spent Tuesday morning preparing for Saturday's contest against Colorado with the first team offense.
On Monday, head coach Todd Graham said he "fully intended" for Wilkins to play against Colorado, but Wilkins did not jog during team warmups Tuesday and instead walked along the side of warmups with his left ankle heavily taped. During individual drills, Wilkins tossed the football off to the side of drills, and despite his lack of participation, Graham said after Tuesday's practice he is "very hopeful" Wilkins can play Saturday.
"Yeah, it's just like we would do any week, like I said, we're very hopeful that we're going to have Manny back and we're getting Dillon and Jack (Smith) and those guys ready," Graham said.
Wilkins is not the only ASU starter who was limited at Tuesday's practice, as sophomore cornerback Kareem Orr and sophomore field safety Armand Perry also warmed up in the injury line. Instead of participating in individual drills, Orr and Perry spent time working out at Muscle Beach and stretching with ASU trainers.
Orr arrived at practice with a knee brace on his right knee while Perry was not wearing cleats, and instead wearing running shoes. Nevertheless, Graham said he expected to have both players back in time for Saturday's matchup with the Buffaloes.
"They'll be good to go, him (Orr) and Armand will be good to go," Graham said. "I think one of the things, rest, really trying to manage the physical part of it this time of the year is really important. We're halfway done. We've got six games left to see what you can get to do from there. They've got the normal bumps and bruises but both of those guys are fully expected to play."
Orr was injured at the beginning of the second quarter of Saturday's game against UCLA when he and junior cornerback Maurice Chandler collided in an effort to block a Bruins' field goal. In his absence, ASU senior cornerback De'Chavon Hayes entered the lineup, and Hayes came up with a critical third quarter interception of UCLA backup quarterback Mike Fafaul that set up a third quarter field goal.
Hayes exited Saturday's game in the fourth quarter with what Graham termed Monday as cramps or illness, but was practicing normally Tuesday.
Perry played the entirety of Saturday's game, and after the victory, Graham praised him for his ability to play through serious pain.
So far this season, the Sun Devils have played without a handful of critical defensive pieces including senior Sam linebacker Salamo Fiso who missed three games due to a team rules violation, junior Christian Sam who has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the season opener against Northern Arizona, senior defensive tackle Viliami Latu who missed the USC game with a knee injury, and senior Spur linebacker Laiu Moeakiola who missed an early portion of the season with a hamstring injury.
"I cannot control injuries and that is part of the game, and that's the way we approach it so I think when those things happen, our guys are better prepared for that and they understand that we've got to have people step up," Graham said. "Whether it's one side of the ball or the other side, everybody has to step up."
News and notes
- Redshirt freshman quarterback Brady White was not in attendance at practice Tuesday. On Monday, Graham said White is out for the season after suffering an injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game.
- Sam did not participate in any portions of practice open to the media. Sam walked through the injury line during warmups and spent individual and team periods working out at Muscle Beach.
- Junior wide receiver Cameron Smith left individual drills to stretch at Muscle Beach. After doing some additional stretching, Smith rejoined offensive drills and participated with the second team offense in a team period.
- During an 11-on-11 tempo period, ASU used its backup guards in place of its starters, which it has done in the past to give linemen rest. Redshirt freshman Zach Robertson worked with the first team at right guard while redshirt freshman Steve Miller worked with the first team at left guard.
- Freshman Jack Smith led the second team offense during the 11-on-11 tempo period. Smith looked great operating the second team offense, leading the unit down the field making quick decisions and engaging his teammates. After the drive, wide receivers coach Jay Norvell and junior wide receiver Jalen Harvey were very animated in their excitement for Smith and the drive he led.