Graham anticipates Wilkins to play Saturday at Colorado

Arizona State sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins missed Saturday's game against UCLA but could play against Colorado.

Arizona State sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins was held out of individual and team drills open to the media during practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, but on Thursday, head coach Todd Graham said he anticipates his injured signal-caller to be healthy enough to play against Colorado.

"I anticipate him (Wilkins) to play, I don't know how much, obviously that could change, but I anticipate him to play," Graham said. "But if we had to play today, it would probably be a combination. We'll see, hopefully a couple more days and he'll be ready to go. But he threw today, he did the two-minute drill today and looked good."

Wilkins suffered an ankle injury during the second quarter of ASU's 41-20 loss to USC on Oct. 1, and missed Saturday's game against UCLA as a result of the injury. Wilkins' backup, redshirt freshman quarterback Brady White went down with a season-ending foot injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, which forced the Sun Devils to burn the redshirt of freshman quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole.

With Wilkins' health status still uncertain for Saturday's game, Sterling-Cole and fellow freshman Jack Smith have spent the week prepared to lead ASU's offense in the event that Wilkins cannot play. 

"Solid, I mean, obviously he's (Sterling-Cole) young, but he and Jack, both of them have had solid weeks," Graham said. "They have different skill sets so we're going to do whatever we have to do to win."

The quarterback position is not the only spot in which ASU has been troubled by injuries this week. Sophomore starting cornerback Kareem Orr and sophomore safety Armand Perry were both limited in practice throughout the week.

Orr suffered a knee injury in the second quarter against UCLA when he collided with junior cornerback Maurice Chandler on an attempt to block a UCLA field goal while Perry has been dealing with an undisclosed injury that forced him to wear running shoes, not cleats, to practice early in the week.

Still, even though both players are banged up, Graham said he expects Orr and Perry to take the field Saturday against the Buffaloes.

"I expect both of them to play. Kareem practiced today, Armand was limited but he'll be ready to go," Graham said.

Graham said even though the Sun Devils have been decimated by injuries, he's proud of the resiliency ASU has demonstrated this year. Even without Wilkins, the Sun Devils were able to topple a UCLA squad picked by many to win the Pac-12 South and one that had already defeated ASU twice at Sun Devil Stadium during the Graham era.

"We were worried a little bit but I don't really think of it in terms of, players always surprise me," Graham said. "You know, I wish I could take a snapshot of like when you walk out on the field and Manny gets hurt or Kareem Orr gets hurt and I'm going, oh, like oh my gosh, this is just going to be catastrophic. In my mind, I'm not telling anybody that. And then you see guys that rise up and take it to a different level. That's what teams with character and synergy do."

Graham did admit all of the uncertainty at quarterback has provided a bit of a distraction for the Sun Devils and the coaching staff, but said injuries are a part of the game and that ASU needs to continue to find ways to overcome adversity. 

"It's been a distraction and I'd much rather not have those distractions but it's part of it. I think too our guys don't, there's no excuses. Figure out a way to get it done. That's part of our mentality and there's lots of challenges with coaching and running the team, especially in a sport like football."

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