Full Of Energy, Short on Execution

According to head coach Dirk Koetter, practicing in shells, as the team did the last couple of days, is not a whole lot different than practicing in full pads, as they did for the first time on Tuesday evening. The session's tempo is still good, but it's the carrying out of plays on offense that is unsatisfactory at this time.

"We're installing a lot, and when Sam (Keller) and Rudy (Carpenter) are in, things run relatively smoothly," explained Koetter. "Our execution isn't where it needs to be. That's the thing about offensive football, when you have one guy breaking down it screws it for everyone else. We have too many individual breakdowns, we're dropping the ball…our defense is playing with so much better energy, which is a good thing overall. I like our energy, our execution has been up and down (the last two practices)."

Koetter pointed out that Tuesday's practice included a five-minute live drill, and in the next few days more and more live drills will incorporated in practices, leading up to the team's first scrimmage on Saturday up at Camp Tontozona.

Tuesday not only marked the inaugural pads session, but also the first day that linebacker Beau Manutai, who's vying for a starting job at the MIKE linebacker, was practicing without an orange jersey. "A guy in an orange shirt, other than a few drills, is doing everything anyway," stated Koetter. "This is the first day he has been in the run stuff, but he was already in the pass stuff." The Sun Devils skipper added that cornerback Littrele Jones and defensive end Kellen Mills are pretty close to coming back. On the other hand, Marin Tevaseu had an MRI and will see the doctor tomorrow; who will determine the next course of treatment. "His knee cap is dislocated," said Koetter, "and they may have to scope it and see how serious it is. It (rehab) can be from anywhere from two weeks to two months."

The two most high profile injuries occurred on Monday, where both defensive ends, Loren Howard and Tranell Morant wee banged up. Koetter commented that Howard has a mild quad strain and his day-to-day, as is Morant with a mild groin strain. "Morant said that this is the best defensive line in ASU history. Well if they are the best defensive line in ASU history, they should play through mild injuries," quipped Koetter, who added that Morant already got an earful, at 5AM the other day, from defensive coordinator Bill Miller for making that bold statement.

Safety Ryan McFoy is swimming in terminology, just like any newcomer, but he has been receiving the praise of Koetter. "He has a really good feel," he remarked. "He's a physical player; His body is mature beyond his years. Right now the backup safeties and how we'll play them in the nickel is up for grabs. Right now you have (Jeremy) Payton, (Rodney) Cox, (Troy) Nolan, McFoy and Uriah Marshall battling for the third through seventh safety spot. Rodney Cox is out to a fast start. Payton started slow, but has been better the last two days. McFoy is hanging in there; Troy Nolan is hanging in there."

On the defensive tackle front, the ASU head coach mentioned that Shannon Jones has lost weight and is in slightly better shape, and it remains to be seen how much of a contributor he'll be. "(Michael) Marquardt and David Smith jumped out probably to the fastest start, and Jordan Hill is slightly below that," said Koetter. "If Will Kofe doesn't play at end, he'll be the fourth tackle. Shannon is a ways out and down the depth (chart). I like what I see out of (Jon) Hargis. Brett Palmer is hanging in there. Fa'agai is a little bit away…his knee is real solid, he just hasn't been able to condition and is working his way into shape."

True freshman linebacker Gerald Munns ran with the first team at the SAM position – a role that is being truly occupied for the first time since last season. "In the spring we really played without a SAM," explained Koetter. "We had to play nickel every time because we were so beat up. Right now it's Munns and Judah at SAM, some kind of combination of Manutai and Nixon at MIKE, and then Robert James and (Travis) Goethel at WILL. That's just the two-deep…Jamar Robinson is battling there at MIKE, Chad Lindsey still battling at SAM, Derron Ware still battling at WILL." Newcomer Jeff Bereuter has missed the last couple of days with an injury.

Robert James had many personal issues the last several months ranging from a sick father to himself becoming a father for the first time last spring. His focus on these aforementioned off the field events, can legitimately come into question, although his play is suggesting otherwise. "He's out to a fast start and I like what I see from him," said Koetter. "But Robert has been inconsistent in his career and hasn't been the most dependable guy. You can't be mad at guy for having life issues, because family has to come in front of football. He certainly has the strength, the speed and the experience to be a major contributor. If he lived up to that he sure would help us."

Koetter confirmed that linebacker Adam Vincent has left the team, and stated that "We wish him the best. Adam is a good kid, and it just didn't work out for him here. This has nothing to do with any discipline or academics. He felt that it wasn't best for him to stay, and we wish him well – he's a great kid."

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