Everybody knew it was going to be different, but I imagine even the Arizona State football team didn’t envision their first practice under new head coach Todd Graham would go quite like it did Thursday afternoon in Tempe.
The workout was scheduled to start at 4:00, but with the entire team on the field, Graham and his staff began around thirty minutes early and ended shortly past 6:30 under the quickly setting sun.
In the middle of the near three-hour practice were detailed sets of drills at a pace that hasn’t been seen at ASU in quite some time. Players were instructed by coaches to sprint from station to station and those who loafed, were called out and some were told to do “up downs” as punishment.
“We run to everything we do,” Graham explained to the media following practice. “It’s the little things that make big things happen. These guys have never heard me raise my voice until [Thursday]. I’m going to coach them in short, verbal blasts, but it’s always positive.”
It’s not only a clean slate for Graham and his assembled staff, but also the Devils who look to re-establish their identity heading into the fall after losing their last five games in 2011. They’ll have to do it with a new quarterback after record-setting junior Brock Osweiler announced he would enter the NFL draft.
The three prospects (Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank, Taylor Kelly) all have potential to thrive in Graham’s offense, but lack experience with only Bercovici having any college experience having played sparingly last season.
The most intriguing prospect is the 6’5, 242-pound redshirt freshman Eubank who Graham recruited at Pitt, before signing with Dennis Erickson. He has the big play ability Graham loves and a big arm to stretch the field.
“I’m coming from [being] a scout quarterback so it’s lovely to be considered [as a possible starter],” Eubank said. “Utilizing my legs is definitely something we can capitalize on.”
The Sun Devils will practice under the lights Wednesday and Thursday afternoon before the players start spring break. The fourteen practices will culminate to the spring game April 21st at Sun Devil Stadium.