Eight weeks into the college football season, the carousel at ASU football’s linebacker spots continues.
Coach Todd Graham and co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Paul Randolph have been cycling different players through the four different linebacker positions, with the only constant being redshirt junior Carl Bradford playing Devilbacker.
“That’s a position where we want to improve the level of play,” Graham said. “It’s been adequate, but it’s where we give up a lot of big-play runs.”
Redshirt freshman safety Laiu Moeakiola practiced at Spur linebacker on Tuesday and Wednesday, trading time with redshirt senior Anthony Jones in first-team reps.
“He’s just a guy that’s very dependable and guy we’re trying to provide depth with and upgrade that position,” Graham said.
Moeakiola started the first four games of this season at field safety, beating redshirt junior Damarious Randall and freshman Marcus Ball for the starting job in fall camp after Randall and Ball were hampered with injuries.
However, Randall recovered from his groin injury and started over Moeakiola in ASU’s loss to Notre Dame on Oct. 5.
Randall recorded 17 tackles against the Fighting Irish and has remained as the starting field safety since, moving Moeakiola to the bench.
The coaches found Moeakiola another place in the first-team defense by inserting him at Spur linebacker and could especially use him against the Sun Devils’ next opponent, No. 20 Washington.
“Laiu can play,” Randolph said. “He’s big; he’s about 210 pounds and can run. Also, he’s a really good cover guy. He tackles well and he’s gotten a lot of reps in coverage. Naturally, Washington throws the ball quite a bit, so Laiu we feel could help us in certain packages.”
Moeakiola said he’s never played linebacker before, but some of the similarities between safety and linebacker can help him make that transition.
“I played ‘rover’ in high school, so it was basically a hybrid outside in a 4-2-5 defense,” he said. “It’s pretty similar, just come in, set the edge, down block, fitting the edge, so it’s pretty fun.”
Hood reflects on hamstring injury
Sophomore nose tackle Jaxon Hood spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in ASU’s loss to Stanford on Sept. 21.
Hood came back and played against Colorado last Saturday and recorded two tackles in the team’s win.
Although it wasn’t a tear, Hood called his hamstring injury the worst injury he’s ever had. He said he couldn’t walk and added he still can’t touch his toes while leaning over to his left. He was concerned that he would’ve needed surgery to repair his hamstring, forcing him to miss even more time.
“I went to 10 different doctors and they said no surgery was needed, so that was a blessing,” he said.
Hood admitted that it was tough dealing with being injured.
“It was so hard to sit out because, y’all may not know this, but I’m hurt all the d-mn time,” Hood said with a laugh.
Now that Hood has made his return, he hopes to increase his reps by getting in shape and said he wants to command double teams against Washington on Saturday.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the dust off and get my lungs back. I’ve been running after practice and everything. I would say I’m closer to 90 (percent). Every day, I’ve been rehabbing and trying to get closer to 100.”
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