August 14, 2008
8/13 Sights and Sounds
Here are sights and sounds from Wednesday's two-a-day action, which included goal-line work with a fullback, an impressive touchdown catch by Dan Knapp and some hilarious commentary by Troy Nolan and Omar Bolden. Sensing his team was off to a sluggish start in position drills, coach Dennis Erickson took the unusual step of calling the entire team into a huddle less than hour into the morning session. The result of that meeting was improved energy and focus. It was just another example of how Erickson has his finger on the pulse of the program. Through 13 practices, ASU had perhaps had one poor workout and a few that were sub-par, and those all came around the weekend when they practiced four times in a 40-hour stretch with three outside in the heat. Other than that, the team has practiced efficiently and with good intensity. Erickson's effort probably saved a morning workout heading into the poor category.
Erickson's mid-practice pep rally wasn't the only thing that sparked life into the Sun Devils. While working in goal line situation, Jarrell Woods and Josh Jordan got into the first real fight of camp to this point, and needed to be separated by teammates. Coach Gregg Smith decided the scuffle provided a boost, calling out to the team, "Now we've got some energy." It was the type of event that is not uncommon once or twice in camp each year and not particularly a big deal. Both players immediately returned to action and the event seemed to light a fire under Woods, who went on to score a few hard fought touchdowns in the period.
Steven Figueroa was grinning ear to ear when we saw him dressed out for practice Wednesday morning, having been cleared to participate. There are no scholarship players enrolled who are not yet able to practice, and wide receiver Tony Simmons is now the only player not working with the team as yet.
One of the key developments, perhaps the big story of the day was the goal line situation, in which ASU used four tight ends at times and one of those players, Wes Evans, as a lead-blocking fullback who also could become a receiving threat out of the position. Evans had several blocks that led to touchdowns in the period.
Redshirt freshman Dan Knapp made back-to-back impressive catches in the side of the end zone for touchdowns in goal line work, the second of which came on a pass from Danny Sullivan where Evans flipped in the air as he caught it and landed on his back with the ball. With Knapp, there is no doubt he is a capable pass catcher who can run routes; he has to show that he's going to be consistent with his blocking assignments and physical play at the line of scrimmage. If he does that, he has a chance to be a very solid all-around player.
Good news circulated Tuesday that Nate Kimbrough would not need surgery for the injury sustained to his face during a weight room session, however we missed this announcement at the time because we were interviewing another player when Erickson said it. It was a surprise to see Kimbrough practice in position drills with the receivers on Wednesday, and after a week or so he will be able to resume full contact work, a very positive development.
Keegan Herring participated in shells Wednesday afternoon and showed that he's more than willing to be physical, delivering a big hit on Pierre Singfield and picking up an additional 10 or so yards in the process.
Though Singfield may have lost the battle with Herring, he won more than his fare share, including two beautiful back-to-back pass breakups against Gerell Robinson, who ran solid out routes, but Singfield closed to the ball and batted the passes down both times even as Robinson made his way back to the ball nicely.
One of the funniest moments of camp came during the goal line segment when Troy Nolan teased a loud-mouthed (in support of his teammates on offense) oft-injured Nate Kimbrough by saying, "There you go with your pom-poms again." To which Omar Bolden added, "Those ain't no T.O. (Terrell Owens) pom-poms either."
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