After a month of open competition, ASU football coach Todd Graham announced his starter at the open safety spot for Thursday’s season opener against Sacramento State.
“Laiu (Moeakiola) will start at free safety and Robert (Nelson) and Lloyd (Carrington) will start at that corner position,” Graham said.
Moeakiola, a redshirt freshman, played in two games in 2012 and collected four tackles.
He had been on and off with the first team during fall camp and seemed to be losing his spot to true freshman Marcus Ball before Ball injured his shoulder during a scrimmage at Camp Tontozona.
Graham said earlier this week that Ball would have been his week one starter if he wasn’t injured, but he will go with Moeakiola over the redshirt senior Nelson, who transitioned from corner to safety after Ball’s injury.
Kicking the idea around
The punting game is still in flux for the Sun Devils and Graham said both junior Dom Vizzare and freshman Matt Haack could see action Thursday.
“Yeah, I think we could (see both of them), because every other day I change my mind,” Graham said.
Graham said Vizzare, a walk-on, is slightly ahead of Haack at this point but hasn’t done enough to earn the starting position outright.
Once one of the players steps up and becomes more consistent, the job will sort itself out, Graham said.
For now, though, the battle continues.
“I think they’ve had a really good battle,” Graham said. “Both of them will do really well one day and then both of them will do really bad.”
Rush defense continues to be a hot topic, and Graham reiterated after practice how relative its improvement is to the defense’s success.
“We want to lead the country in takeaways and in scoring defense and the number one thing that affects that is rushing defense,” Graham said.
Graham believes ASU’s defense, specifically the rush defense, is fundamentally better now than last year but can only take the team’s 40th ranked scoring defense in 2012 as testimony.
“Scoring defense we have 39 slots to go,” he said, “and if you watched every game last year, that’s a pretty good place to judge where we are at.”
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