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April 6, 2012

Mixed results in half scrimmage under lights

It was laundry day during Arizona State's half scrimmage under the lights at Sun Devil Stadium Thursday, just not the type of linen its coaching staff wanted to see.

Flags were thrown on a regular basis as penalties and miscues were aplenty. The mistakes ran rampant before the scrimmage even stated when ASU practiced special teams scenarios. Out of close to 10 kickoff scenarios, two resulted in flags and another two in fumbles by the receiving team.

The problems didn't cease there, as the offense and defense combined for five penalties within the first three series'.

"We had too many penalties, the defense had too many penalties," coach Todd Graham said. "We had too many penalties that kept drives alive, and that was a big factor early."

Unofficially, there were 10 penalties out of 52 plays, excluding the special teams' flags before the scrimmage began. Also, ASU had two bad snaps that resulted in negative yardage.

ASU's offense moved the ball with relative ease in the first of two scrimmage segments as the offense ran the ball effectively Thursday, with sophomore Deantre Lewis having arguably his best practice this spring.

Lewis carried the ball nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown. According to Graham, Arizona State's rushing prowess was largely due to softness in the defensive interior.

"We ran the ball big time tonight, and that can't happen defensively," said Graham, who didn't have the help of inside linebacker Brandon Magee, still only cleared for 7-on-7 as he recovers from injury. "It's pretty slow with our defense right now. We've got to do a better job inside, because that's where we're running the ball is inside with our inside linebackers. Right now, that's an area of concern with our inside linebackers."

Junior strongside linebacker Kipeli Koniseti, who had a tackle for loss and several other nice plays in a mixed performance, said the defense is still adjusting to the new brand of defensive.

"This year it's a lot more downhill," Koniseti said. "Last year it was more reading keys and getting over the top for middle linebackers, but this year it's more of both of us plug and we have outside guys filling gaps and cutback lanes."

Still, Graham was proud off Lewis' performance Thursday after he rushed for 45 yards off 13 carries and struggled with conditioning during last Saturday's spring game.

Although Lewis is still far from regaining his full explosiveness from before the shooting, he's progression day-by-day.

"Wow, Deantre I thought is just getting better and better," Graham said. "His timing and all that is not full speed and where it should be, but I'll tell you he's making some great cuts, great runs, running physical. And it's violent; I mean it's a violent deal running downhill like that."

Redshirt freshman Michael Eubank started with the first team and had an unremarkable performance, completing 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards and an interception but making some plays with his feet on read option keepers.

Sophomore Taylor Kelly went 4 of 6 for 70 yards and showed his running ability as well. Kelly carried the ball seven times, mostly on designed option plays for 60 yards in what has become his clear strength.

Sophomore Mike Bercovici completed his first eight passes during the half scrimmage and finished with 102 yards and a touchdown off 11 of 17 passing. However, Bercovici was also credited with two fumbles.

Graham wasn't too worried about the quarterbacks' play during the scrimmage, though, knowing there's still plenty of time for them to develop.

"The big thing is the intangibles," Graham said. "I want to see the guy that has some bad things happen to him, and how does he respond. I want to see the guy that gets put back going with the (second team) that won't stay there. So we're doing all kinds of things to try motivate them and kind of work in their head and see who the real guy is."

Another area of needed improvement is functionality at tempo according to Graham. Although it's improved drastically throughout the spring, Graham said it's nowhere near where it should be.

"What you see right now is very slow," he said. "Very slow from where we can be, even though tonight we were rolling those plays out there right around 16 seconds. So that's pretty fast."


Unofficial Stats

Passing:

Mike Bercovici: 11-17, 102 yards, TD

Michael Eubank: 4-7, 32 yards, INT

Taylor Kelly: 4-6, 70 yards

Rushing:

Kevin Anderson: 2 carries, -3 yards

Deantre Lewis: 9 carries, 64 yards, TD

Jamal Miles: 3 carries, 50 yards

James Morrison: 6 carries, 14 yards, TD

R.J. Robinson: 1 carry, 2 yards

Receiving:

Kevin Anderson: 1 catch, 12 yards

Alex Bykovskiy: 1 catch, 16 yards

J.J. Holliday: 2 catches, 9 yards

Karl Holmes: 2 catches, 31 yards

Jamal Miles: 4 catches, 56 yards

James Morrison: 3 catches, 21 yards, TD

A.J. Pickens: 2 catches, 17 yards

Darwin Rogers: 3 catches, 33 yards

Max Smith: 1 catch, 9 yards


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