For the third time this spring, the Arizona State Sun Devils conducted the 'W' tackling drill in a portion of practice open to the media.
One of head coach Todd Graham's favorite drills, this was also the final time ASU displayed full contact in the spring, as Saturday's spring game will not feature tackling.
The drill has traditionally been one of the few full contact drills Graham allows the media to observe. This is the first spring in the Graham era in which the media has had no observation of 7-on-7, 11-on-11, or any other sorts of full contact tackling, other than the 'W' drill.
Consisting of seven total bodies, three blockers are face-to-face with a defensive player, standing in a line to signify three levels of the defense. The goal is to have each of the blockers handle their defensive assignment in a way that paves a narrow path for the running back to reach the end zone. The blockers, consisting of an offensive lineman, tight end, and wide receiver, face a defensive player appropriate for their position group.
Wide Receivers vs. Defensive Backs
Receivers whose reps appear on video include junior Jalen Harvey, senior Ryan Jenkins, sophomore Ryan Newsome, redshirt freshman Frank Darby, sophomore John Humphrey Jr., sophomore N'Keal Harry and sophomore Terrell Chatman.
As a whole, the receiver unit held its own against ASU's defensive backs. Redshirt freshman cornerback Chase Lucas made a tackle after slipping a block from Humphrey, but that was the only play any defensive back made on a running back.
Harvey, featured in the first and fourth clips, had probably the two best reps of anyone in the group. He was the most physically dominant, and never allowed either of his matchups (Chad Adams and Jalen Russell) to gain any ground on him outside the pads.
The defensive backs group of Chandler, Lucas, senior Chad Adams, walk-on Owen Rogers, walk-on Jalen Russell, junior Tyler Whiley, freshman Ty Thomas, and senior J'Marcus Rhodes. The unit only produced one tackle and very few managed to even escape their blocks.
Tight Ends vs. Linebackers
Overall in the 10 reps, the linebackers won four of them. Though he didn't make the play, on the first rep of the drill, senior D.J. Calhoun managed to push junior Jay Jay Wilson backward a yard or so. Calhoun also escaped a block and got in at the end of a run by sophomore back Nick Ralston. Sophomore Malik Lawal managed to bust his way into the end of a play off a block from Alexander Otero, while walk-on Bailey Higgins threw walk-on Kyle Remo to the ground.
The best reps of the tight end group came from senior Christian Hill and walk-ons Frank Ogas and Josh Pokraka, who all managed to put someone on the ground.
In senior Christian Sam’s one rep on video, he matched up with Hill and was pushed out of the play.
In maybe the most promising sign of the whole drill for ASU, juniors Sam Jones and Quinn Bailey each had a pancake block. Bailey’s victim was sophomore George Lea while Jones’ was senior Tashon Smallwood.