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10 things to watch over next set of ASU football practices

© Rob Shumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Arizona State football team will have four more practices before they start their game prep for Southern Utah.

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Dillingham said his team isn’t ahead of schedule in terms of where they should be at after the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday.

“We’re about two and a half weeks away from being ready to play,” he said laughing. “That’s about right. We’ve got a long way to go still. And it’s not just the scheme. It’s just the overall response, and we’re getting better and we’re starting to buy into it.”

Here are the ten biggest things I’m watching for from the team over the next set of practices.

1. The QB Battle

This is the most obvious answer. Jaden Rashada vs. Trenton Bourguet is heating up. I wrote all about this here:

Evaluating the Arizona State quarterback battle

2. Consistency

There are only four more practices left until the Sun Devils need to have their minds totally set on game planning for Week One against Southern Utah.

During this stretch, ASU cannot take any steps backwards, they have to work to continue to move forward and hone in on everything they want to get better at over the next week.

3. Responding to Adversity

How well can the Sun Devils respond to the adversity they’re hit with? They’ve had long enough in fall camp that they should know how to respond by now.

Going back to the above point, they can’t let any adversity affect them and make them take any steps backwards.

ASU has already had two players get kicked off the team. That needs to be just it. No more players should get kicked off the team this late into fall practices, and everyone needs to lock in and respond to the challenges they’re facing.

4. Slot WR Battle

I wrote about this a few days ago, and it still carries over to the next set of practices.

Returning sixth-year senior Giovanni Sanders and Colorado State grad transfer Melquan Stovall are battling it out for the slot wide receiver position. Before Camp T, Sanders was getting most of the reps with the first team. Now, it’s flipped with Stovall getting a lot of first-team reps and being a heavy target on top of that.

Sanders brings a lot of speed and looks like the best player on the second team when he plays with them. Stovall has a large catch radius and has made some nice plays, getting more targets than any other receiver when he’s out there. Both guys have proven that they are playmakers and can fit into this dynamic offense, so there should be a role for both of them.

5. Physicality

Since Day 1, Dillingham has said that physicality is the most important thing in fall camp.

“I really challenge the guys,” Dillingham said, “if we want to win this league, if we want to be a team who competes at the highest level, we got to be a team that embodies the Utah mindset of ‘We’re gonna be the most physical team on the field, the most physical team practicing’ and that’s why we’re (practicing) outside (in the heat).”

With more and more contact being allowed, can the Sun Devils channel more physicality. The Sun Devils’ best practices have come when they ramp up the physicality, so Dillingham’s message stands correct when they play with physicality.

6. LB Position Battle

The starting linebacker spot next to Washington State grad transfer Travion Brown is up for grabs. Right now Will Shaffer looks to be in the lead for the spot, but that could change.

Tate Romney, Caleb McCullough, James Djonkam, K’Vion Thunderbird and Krew Jackson are all in the mix to be the second starting LB as well.

7. Backup RB Battle

Wednesday’s scrimmage was our first time getting a good look at the  running back group. Previously, they had been marked down when touched, but yesterday they had to be a full tackled.

Cameron Skattebo continued to get first-team reps and looks to have the starting job on lock.

However, Cal transfer DeCarlos Brooks ripped off two really impressive long runs and broke a lot of tackles all day.

George Hart III had a 50-plus yard touchdown from Rashada off of a check down pass. Javen Jacobs has also looked like a great threat out of the backfield because of how good he is at catching the ball.

Some other names to watch are speedy sophomore running Tevin White and freshman running back Kyson Brown. The Sun Devils have a lot of players they can mix in, and the true running back group looks like it could run five-deep.

Overall, the group has performed very well, and the Sun Devils look like they have a lot of options to mix in.

8. CB and OL Rotations

These cornerback and offensive line positions have become more fluent with the same players as camp goes on, but there are still some questions of how they’ll all play out.

My notes on the positions from my report yesterday on Wednesday’s scrimmage:

First-team CB: Ro Torrence (outside), Jordan Clark (nickel), Dee Ford (outside)

  • Ed Woods will get a lot of playing time as well. He actually played over Torrence in the scrimmage, but think this was just a nod to how well he’s been performing in camp lately after Dillingham talked about him on Tuesday. Keith Abney and Macen Williams, who had the team’s lone INT Wednesday, have been impressive as well.

First-team OL: Isaia Glass (LT), Sione Finau (LG), Leif Fautanu (C), Cade Briggs (RG), Emmit Bohle (RT)

  • Bram Walden proving capable sliding in at LT and LG spots. Going to be interesting to see how Aaron Frost and Joey Ramos fit into this rotation as well, but as I mentioned before, this lineup has been consistent the past week. We’ll see if it could change.

9. Xavion Alford Eligible?

After ASU saw Jake Smith ruled ineligible last week, potential starting safety Xavion Alford is in danger of this reality as well. The junior also transferred from Texas to USC to ASU, but cited mental health as the reason for transferring. He has been firing off tweets related to the situation.

Alford has been taking first-team reps, but if he is not eligible Austin Peay senior transfer Shamari Simmons is next in line to start.

10. Putting Everything Together

With everything mentioned above, can the Sun Devils put it all together before their game prep begins? They need to have their minds right before the Week One matchup and not take it for granted.

Everything that they’ve learned, improved on and mistakes they’ve gotten better from need to all come to fruition before their first game.

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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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