Each ASU football practice, there’s one constant: senior cornerback Osahon Irabor in the PT42 camouflage jersey.
Sun Devil coach Todd Graham took his praise of Irabor a step further after Thursday’s practice.
“I think Irabor is the best corner I’ve ever coached,” Graham said.
That’s high acclaim from Graham, who noted he coached Adam “Pacman” Jones at West Virginia.
With that, Graham said he plans to use Irabor on USC junior wide receiver Marqise Lee, who was a Heisman contender a year ago.
“He is playing at a top level right now, against the run and the pass, so yeah, he’ll be matched up on him a lot,” Graham said.
Graham didn’t limit his praise to Irabor, either.
The second-year coach called Lee, who has caught 23 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown this season, “the best wide receiver in America” and mentioned his ability to make any catch into a big play.
Graham thinks Irabor and the rest of the secondary is up to the challenge of stopping him.
“We have to play, be smart and mix things up,” Graham said. “Things like that.”
Lee’s production has been down this season, but the Trojans’ entire passing offense has been and ranks No. 108 in the nation in passing yards per game.
Graham isn’t buying the numbers, though, and said there have been “near misses” in the passing game which have held USC back.
“They are very lethal,” Graham said. “It’s just been an execution deal, (but) they are very capable.”
If Irabor and the Sun Devils can stop Lee, Graham said they will be one step closer to picking up their first conference victory of the season.
“This is a big game,” Graham said. “I haven’t dodged that with our kids at all. Every game in the Pac-12 South is a must-win and especially this one.”
Conway making easy to interior of defensive line
When Graham announced Monday that redshirt senior defensive lineman Gannon Conway would move to the interior of the line in light of sophomore Jaxon Hood’s injury, it wasn’t terribly surprising.
Three days later, Conway said he’s moved past the change and has found a new home, though temporary, on the interior.
“The first day was rough just trying to get comfortable there,” Conway said, “but it’s basically the same position as the seven-technique up against the tight end, so I’m getting comfortable there.”
Conway said USC will line up similar to Wisconsin, especially in their run packages, which has only aided his transition.
“They are going to be a little different from Wisconsin, but not much,” Conway said. “As long as we read our keys we are going to make plays happen.”
Conway said he’s just ready to get on the field at this point and see what happens.
“When the game comes, I’m going to get off the ball, read my keys and make disruption happen in the backfield,” he said.
-Hood was still in the green no-contact jersey and spent practice once again at Muscle Beach. He’s still listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game.
-Graham said he’d bring back freshman safety Marcus Ball right now if he could but that his return will most likely be in a “couple of weeks.”
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