ASU football credits conditioning for late game success

Redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee spies on Utah senior quarterback Jon Hays during the Sun Devils’ 37-7 win over Utah on Sept. 22. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

The ASU football team out-scored its opponents 47-7 so far this season in the fourth quarter.

ASU’s offense has finished off blowouts. The defense has limited teams late, even in close games like against Missouri and California. Players and coaches agree the main reason for the late game success is the team’s conditioning.

Coach Todd Graham said he has been happy with his team’s stamina, but the real challenge is on the way.

“This is week six, so now we’re fixing to find out where our conditioning is,” Graham said. “I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

Players and coaches give credit to Shawn Griswold, the director of strength and conditioning. Griswold’s work in the summer has shown on the field by the way ASU is finishing out teams.

In ASU’s last game, Cal scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That was the first time a team put up points against the Sun Devils in the final quarter all season.

Redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee said the team has also been staying fit during the season.

“We want to make sure that we are in the best shape in America,” Magee said. “It’s paying off though, because in the fourth quarter we are out-scoring our opponent. That’s the proof of being in shape.”

On the defensive side of the ball, no other position does more running than the secondary group. They have a pass-first mentality. Even when it is a run play, the cornerbacks stick with the receivers down the field.

That adds up to a lot of running.

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Deveron Carr said that the secondary’s conditioning improves every week.

He said at the beginning of the season, it would only take a couple plays in coverage before he would be gassed. At this point of the season, he can cover a receiver for 10 plays in a row and still be breathing easily.

On the outsides of the field, the corners and receivers exert themselves running. Inside the trenches, the linemen do not run as much, but their stamina is just as important.

Redshirt junior center Kody Koebensky said the strength that his line has late in the game gives them an advantage.

“It helps a lot in the fourth quarter,” Koebensky said. “Those d-linemen are putting their hands on their hips and they’re slow to line up. When you’re on top of them every play running it, running it they just start getting real tired and it’s really easy to move them.”

Intensity during practice has been a Graham mantra since the spring. The discrepancy in the fourth quarters shows the team is in strong condition right now.

Graham said it has not reached its overall goal.

“I think it takes two years to get into the shape to run what we want to run,” Graham said. “Our tempo is not where it needs to be, but it’s where it needs be for us to win right now.”

Graham said he would be happy if the team continues to out-score its opponents by this margin in the second half of the season.

 

Position battle at kicker

At the beginning of this week of practice, Graham said that the kicking game was where the team needed to improve on the most.

This week, he gave junior kicker Jon Mora a chance to challenge redshirt sophomore Alex Garoutte for the kicking spot.

“If we kicked today, Mora would probably kick,” Graham said.

Graham said he would discuss their options with special teams coordinator Joe Lorig and make a final decision for Thursday’s game against Colorado.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu