ASU football focuses on itself during bye week

Freshman running back D.J. Foster (8) stiff-arms an NAU defender during the Sun Devils’ 63-6 win over the Lumberjacks on Aug. 30. (Photo by Vince Dwyer)

This week, the Sun Devils do not face any opponent.

Even without a foe to face this weekend, this week might be one of most important weeks of practice.

The focus for the ASU football team this week has been the four R’s: returning to fundamentals, recruiting, retaining strength and relaxing.

Since there is no team to game plan against, the Sun Devils are strictly focused on themselves.

“I wanted to challenge them to take the approach of this a week to get ahead,” coach Todd Graham said. “Obviously we don’t have any off weeks…we spent a lot of time fundamentally working hard.”

The words “fundamentals” have been the common phrase around practice during this bye week.

Redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee said it has definitely been the focus around the line-backing corps.

“We just want to get out here and get better at the little things that we kind of shied away from, like foot-work, knowing your gap responsibilities in base defense and stuff like that,” Magee said.

 

Coaches take advantage

Practices this week have been ending shorter than usual. Coaches, however, have been taking a little extra time to stop drills and use the time to teach.

During a hand-off drill between the centers, quarterbacks and running backs, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell stopped everyone to fix minor problems.

Freshman running back DJ Foster said coaches are working to sure up details during this off-period.

“Hand-offs, pitching and stuff…little things like that we are we trying to make sure that we are getting that down one hundred percent and make sure it is crisp,” Foster said.

 

Pitching the Pitchfork

Coaches have been taking advantage on the practice field and on the recruiting path.

Certain coaches have not been at practice this week because they are tracking down and visiting different ASU recruiting targets all across the country.

Defensive coordinator Paul Randolph was not at practice on Tuesday and even Graham himself said he was leaving on flight Wednesday to visit some players.

Graham said this week is huge for recruiting. During the rest of the season coaches will not have time to make trips.

To Graham the answer to pulling in good recruits is simple.

“The best thing that you can do with recruiting is win,” Graham said. “Nothing is more important than winning this football season and competing for a championship. If we win a championship, then recruiting will be easy.”

 

Sleep and strength

Most of the coaches are gone Thursday and Friday to focus on recruiting.

Graham said the players have a running and lifting day Thursday and Friday will be off. The team will return to full practice Saturday.

Over the next two days, ASU will be focusing on the other important factors of bye week practices, conditioning and recuperation.

Magee said the team must put work in the gym Thursday. On Friday he wants to take advantage of the time off.

“To relax, I need to get a girl to give me a massage,” Magee said. “Probably eat some ice cream, watch a movie (and) kick my feet up. I don’t know but I’m going to do something to relax.”

 

Notes

Junior defensive lineman Mike Pennel still was not present at practice on Wednesday.

Redshirt junior defensive lineman Will Sutton is having an eventful week. On Monday, he was award the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week and Wednesday was his birthday.

 

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu