First Scrimmage Showcases Dominant Run Game

The multitude of injuries on the defensive line, helped ASU's offense rule the line scrimmage, and ultimately contributed to a good day at the office for the Sun Devil ball carriers during Saturday's scrimmage.

Unofficially (no official stats were recorded in this scrimmage) Sam Keller was 12-22 for 184 yards. He had a 27-yard TD to Brandon Smith, and was intercepted once by Chad Green. Things took a turn for the worse for Green later on, when he was injured during a blocked field goal and will likely miss the rest of spring practice. Rudy Carpenter completed 16 of 26 passes for 228 yards. Both his touchdown passes were caught by Nate Kimbrough(14 and 37 yards respectively), and one of his passes was tipped by Zach Catanese and picked off by Kellen Mills.

Mike Jones, who has had a good spring thus far, caught six balls for 104 yards, including one pass for 45 yards. Kimbrough had four catches for 75 yards. As mentioned, the Arizona State backs had a fine day, collecting a total of 156 yards. Shaun DeWitty amassed 76 yards on four carries, including a 25-yard score and a long run of 40 yards. Preston Jones found the end zone from 14 yards out, and walk-on Evan Gammage, a pleasant surprise thus far in the spring, had a 3-yard score.

Joining injured defensive linemen Kyle Caldwell, Loren Howard and Tranell Morant, was Will Kofe who will miss the rest of spring with a knee injury. Shannon Jones missed the scrimmage due to a wedding (not of brother Shane). Nevertheless, the defensive line and the defense in general was able at times to get the quarterbacks (who wore no-contact orange jerseys) and made some nice plays in the passing game. Chris MacDonald looked good punting, and Brandon Smith showed nice moves at punt returner.

"There's plenty of good and plenty of not so good," said head coach Dirk Koetter as he summed up the scrimmage. "The one thing is that the defensive line is at a huge disadvantage – we had five linemen out today. Missing five guys on an already thin unit, doesn't make things easy for the D-Line. The offensive line and the running backs pretty much had their way in the running game. It was great to see the backs run hard. Keegan (Herring) got off to a great start early. We've really been working on trying to get him to be more consistent in the running game, and with the chances that he got today he did a nice job with that. Preston (Jones) and Gammage had nice runs…Shaun DeWitty, who really needed a chance to run live…that was great to see the plays he made. If he can run consistently like he did today, that a huge plus. That's what we need."

"The safeties (Josh) Barrett and (Zach) Catanese continue to make plays," Koetter continued. "Wes Evans made some nice plays at defensive end. The corners did some nice things…we still have to get better at wide receiver. Our wideouts have to play a lot more consistent, although they made some plays."

In the much anticipated quarterback battle between Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter, Koetter stated that no one signal caller has an advantage over the other. "For those two guys, it's so different…first we put on orange jerseys on them - we have to do that to protect them," he commented. "I thought they were much sharper today than they were yesterday. When you're out here with the clock and the officials, Sam and Rudy rise to the occasion and their game experience shows up. That drill we did in the end, those guys were calling out their own plays there. Some of this stuff is created just for them, to get them in good and bad situations and see how they handle it. I think both of them are doing fine and both of them are very close – the competition is tough."

While the injury bug has hit the maroon and gold pretty hard this spring, Koetter doesn't believe that he will have to change the way his team practices in order to avoid additional nicks and bruises. "We're not there yet and I still think that we'll get some of those guys back," he explained. "Spring football is two-way street. You don't want guys to be out long-term and have surgeries, buy yet you have to protect some guys too." Koetter added that Troy Nolan may be suffering from a torn meniscus in his knee that may require surgery, but the team could still have him back conditioning in June.

Some other notes to pass along:

- ATS, the acronym of the team's mission statement Answer the Scratch was painted at both ends of the field.
- Keegan Herring was sporting a Mohawk haircut in today's scrimmage.
- This weekend the ASU football staff conducted a coaches clinic, in which they entertained over 100 high school and JC coaches from around the country.
- Former Sun Devils Juan Roque and Shante Carver were in attendance, On that note, 105 former Sun Devil football players have signed up for the Alumni Golf Tournament that will be held on April 14th, which is believed to be the highest number ever.

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