The sound heard from the Carson Student-Athlete Center this weekend was a huge sigh of relief from ASU football coach Todd Graham.
Redshirt junior defensive tackle Will Sutton “received a good prognosis” from the medical staff on Friday and suited up during Sunday’s practice.
Sutton did not participate in practice, but his presence on the field was a glimmer of good news following a 43-21 blowout loss to Oregon on Thursday.
“It’s good to see him dressed out here today, working hard and hopefully (the training staff) can do some magic and work him back,” Graham said.
His status remains week-to-week for Saturday’s homecoming matchup against UCLA. Sutton went down on the second play of the game when he banged knees with Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota. Sutton forced a fumble on the play, but he did not return.
“Will is such a catalyst for our team,” defensive coordinator Paul Randolph said. “He makes a play and gets everyone excited offensively, defensively and special teams. He has that effect on his teammates. Naturally in losing him, we lose him making a great play.”
His absence was felt throughout the game. Oregon has one of the fastest offenses in the country and had its way with the Sun Devils after Sutton left the game. Sutton has 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss this season, which rank No. 3 and No. 5 in the country.
“It’s not going to be a long term deal because we’re not going to let it be a longer term deal,” Randolph said. “It’s day-to-day and Will knows that. He’s working and I ask him, ‘You running yet?’ about every two minutes. He wants to get back.”
Randolph said he personally expects to see Sutton running “in a couple days” and said the team will be fired up whenever he does return.
But if he’s not able to play Saturday, senior linebacker Brandon Magee expects the defensive line to step up in Sutton’s place — as big of a task as that sounds.
“We have the talent for people to step up with the system and the coaches to work around that, so it won’t be as much of a loss,” Magee said. “I mean Will Sutton, that’s a heck of a loss, but we can minimize it, sort of. We’ll see what happens. He’s still day-to-day, week-to-week.”
Mike Pennel returns
Junior defensive tackle Mike Pennel returned to practice for the first time in three weeks.
Pennel ran with the scout team Sunday. He was suspended indefinitely after the California game on Sept. 29 for not meeting team standards. It was the second time he was suspended by Graham this season.
“He made it through the day,” Graham said. “He’s on scout team and he’s working his way. He’s on scout team and we want him to be successful.”
“Big Mike” was the sixth-best junior college defensive tackle prospect on Rivals.com last year. Randolph said the staff would take it “day-to-day” with Pennel and his status moving forward. He expects Pennel to have a good work ethic throughout practice in his return.
“Mike came out today with a great attitude, working, having fun and loving football,” Randolph said. “We had a great conversation and he said, ‘Coach, I missed it. I missed football. I missed the guys.’”
Randolph thinks Pennel is happy to be back with his teammates. Pennel’s return brought a smile to junior defensive tackle Davon Coleman’s face.
“I kind of went through the same situation, and it’ll probably help him become more humble and a better person,” Coleman said. “That’s what helped me … Just keep working, that’s all it comes down to. You’ve got to keep your head down, keep your mouth shut and just work.”
Magee said it was nice to see him at practice and feels he’ll work his way back into the system.
“He’s a good kid,” Magee said. “He just got caught in the wrong foot and now he’s back and improving every week. I’m proud he made it back out here.”
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