ASU coach Todd Graham needed some speed at scout team quarterback, so he turned to two of his cornerbacks this week.
Redshirt junior cornerback Robert Nelson and sophomore cornerback Rashad Wadood have lined up at the quarterback on Thursday and Friday to help the defense prepare for Navy’s triple-option Saturday in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
“We practiced all the way up until yesterday (Thursday), and then felt like we were getting the ball out on the perimeter fast enough to simulate the pitch,” Graham said. “Those guys are giving us a great look.”
Nelson was an option quarterback in high school for two years. He jumped at the idea when Graham asked if he could help the team out. Nelson still participated on defense, but switched over to quarterback when needed.
“I understand going through the gaps that we (the defense) know this offense more than we thought we would,” Nelson said. “We’ve been practicing it for a whole month now. As I’m going through the holes, they’re already meeting me at the holes and everything.”
Wadood also had the same mentality in mind when Graham asked about the role. He said he wanted to help the team out with his speed and athleticism. It’s his first action since he had surgery on his torn labrum. Wadood wore a non-contact jersey during practice.
“We’re trying to find the best athletes to give us a look,” Wadood said. “I’m out so I’m trying to contribute to the team anyway I can. I’m all for it.
“I’ve been working in with the DBs (defensive backs) again and getting back to running around. This will be another way to help me run around again.”
ASU and Navy will be on the same sideline for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl game at AT&T Park. It could present some communication challenges Saturday.
“It’s probably one of the things I’ve never experienced,” Graham said. “There’s some vision issues. They’ve never had a no huddle team in this deal, so it’s a little bit different. Hopefully they let us get on the field a little bit because it’s going to be hard.”
The players could be at least 30-40 yards further away from the coaches than they’re usually used to. Graham said the team has practiced in anticipation for the challenge. Graham’s staff has experience with this bowl however.
“We’re concerned about when you’re backed up on the other side and we’re on the this end, can they see the numbers?” Graham said. “It’s a good 30-40 yards further yards from what they’re used to. And then the angles all change in our communication.”
Linebackers coach Ron West and tight ends coach Chip Long were here last season when they coached for Illinois.
As a part of the bowl festivities, both Navy and ASU took a tour of Alcatraz Thursday. Both teams went together on the same boat over to the island along with the coaches, their families and media members. Everyone seemed to love the tour, including senior punter Josh Hubner, senior wide receiver Rashad Ross and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.