Football maintains focus despite long layoff until bowl

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly launches a pass after rolling out of the pocket during the Sun Devils’ 45-43 loss to UCLA on Oct. 27. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

When ASU takes the field in San Francisco for its game against Navy for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, 37 days will have passed since the last time the team took the field. With the long layoff between games, the players are focusing on the Midshipmen, but the bulk of their attention is on themselves.

“I come out here and focus on getting better every day,” redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee said. “I think about the bowl game, but I also think if I don’t come out (to practice) and get better, I’m going to look horrible in the game.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly is trying to treat the layoff like an extended bye week and believes the way the coaches have structured the bowl practices is important to the team’s success.

“Our coaches do a great job of keeping our practices short and being smart with our legs,” Kelly said. “They’re also keeping us mentally checked for our communications, alignments and (making sure we) watch film.”

Neither Kelly nor Magee played in ASU’s trip to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas a season ago and have never experienced such a long layoff between games in their athletic careers.

Despite having a break of more than a month between contests, Kelly does not believe his team will show any signs of rust or emotional jitters.

“I think we will be fine,” Kelly said. “We do a good job of keeping the tempo going during our team periods. As long as we do our jobs and focus we will be good.”

ASU still has to wait a couple more weeks until it tries to finish the season with eight wins and the team’s first bowl win since 2005. The Sun Devils know they need to continue to wait for the opportunity to play again, but the players are anxious to get back onto the field and finish the season strong.

“It’s been a great season and to go out against a great team like Navy, it’s going to be great,” Magee said. “I’m excited. I’m going to have a lot of family there.”

 

Team Awards:

The Sun Devils held their team banquet Saturday night at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort and presented several team awards. Some of the more notable awards are listed below.

 

Bill Kajikawa Award (Presented to the team’s top freshman)

Freshman running back D.J. Foster

 

Danny White Offensive MVP

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly

 

Mike Haynes Defensive MVP

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Will Sutton

 

Babe Alex Demon Special Teams MVP

Senior punter Josh Hubner

 

Frank Kush Captains Award

Redshirt senior safety Keelan Johnson

Redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee

Senior running back Cameron Marshall

Redshirt senior offensive guard Andrew Sampson

 

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu