The Sun Devil football team finally has a bye week after six toiling weeks against opponents who have a combined record of 27-14.
“This bye week is much needed!!” redshirt junior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas tweeted on Monday.
It’s not exactly a full bye week, though, as coach Todd Graham has pointed out. The Sun Devils’ next game on Thursday, Oct. 31 is at Washington State, about 12 days after ASU beat Washington. This break really only gives the team three extra practice sessions to prepare.
The team began the week with a relatively easy workout at Sun Devil Stadium Tuesday and practiced in shells. The workout ended with 10 minutes of sprints between sidelines to maintain conditioning.
“We’re not doing any pounding, but we’re doing a lot of mental stuff, a lot of work,” Graham said.
That being said, Graham said the goal for the next several days is to maintain rhythm as the Sun Devils have another critical conference matchup on the road.
“When you do have a bye week, that’s important,” he said. “You don’t want to lose the momentum that you have, and you want to make sure you’re getting better every day. That’s a balance you kind of have to make. I think we have a good beat on that.”
Graham also said he has been pleased with how healthy the team has stayed so far this season.
The biggest injuries that have hit the team are sophomore defensive end Jaxon Hood’s hamstring injury — which he has returned from — and freshman safety Marcus Ball’s shoulder injury — which has kept him sidelined since Camp Tontozona in August.
“I’m not one of those coaches that sit and talk about, ‘Oh, we’re so sore, we’re so this, so that,’” Graham said. “I hate that way of thinking. So does everybody else.”
Ball fully participated in Tuesday’s practice without a green no-contact jersey for the first time since he hurt his shoulder, but Graham said he doesn’t know whether Ball will play against the Cougars.
The bye week is also good timing for some players to heal from a couple of minor, but nagging injuries as well.
Redshirt junior linebacker Carl Bradford sported a left wrist brace for a bruise during last week’s practice but took it off before Saturday’s game against Washington. He said it’s still sore, but that the week off will help it heal.
“This bye week is just going to allow my body to rest even more,” Bradford said. “Nothing too major.”
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who rolled his ankle in Saturday’s game, spent most of Tuesday’s practice on the sideline working on his balance despite not wearing a green jersey. Sophomore wide receiver Richard Smith had a green jersey after not playing in Saturday’s game, and sophomore running back D.J. Foster spent most of practice working out on a stationary bike.
ASU doesn’t have another week off this season. The team has a road game at Utah, a home match against Oregon State and a critical trip to No. 12 UCLA before a showdown with UA on Nov. 30.
Safe to say, the players are getting the most they can out of the bye.
“This is the perfect time of the season to have that break,” senior safety Alden Darby said.
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