ASU football emphasizes focus, discipline after Weber State win

Jaelen Strong Redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong runs the ball during a play against Weber State on Aug. 28 at Sun Devil Stadium. (Photo by Andrew Ybanez)

Coming off their 45-14 win over Weber State, the ASU football team has faced some question marks from outside sources about the "quality" of their win. Coach Todd Graham, who is not a fan of the tradition of scheduling FCS teams, does not believe this to be fair.

"I'm not a big (proponent) of those games, because it doesn't matter what you do," Graham said. "I'm sorry, I'm not leaving my quarterback in there. Everybody wanted to keep him in there except me. But the atmosphere, you just keep looking at the clock like, 'Will that thing just hurry and move down?' And then it gets sloppy and that's all anybody remembers. No matter what you do, if you do good, it's only an (FCS) opponent, and if you do anything bad, you can't win for losing in those games."

Graham does not believe that his young players will be fazed by playing on the road for the first time, citing their excellent pregame before Weber State. "We have a lot of newcomers, but it's better than it was last year," Graham said. "The pregame meal, our bus ride over, our hotel, everything. Talk about focus and no distractions at all. It was the best everything up to the game."

Graham attributes the quality of the pregame routine to the burst in youthful energy.

"A lot of times youth helps with that," Graham said. "Because you have guys that are a lot more focused in and a lot more trying to please."

Graham said he is not concerned with heading on the road because the team already has shown it can execute.

Graham believes his two young starters, freshmen lineman Tashon Smallwood and linebacker DJ Calhoun were able to stay focused very well, especially for the circumstances.

"How can you not be (distracted)," Graham said. "You just got to college, you're a true freshman. That's kind of distracting in itself, because you're so excited."

Graham said there have been internal discussions about taking cell phones away from players before the game to cut down on distractions.

"Imagine how many phone calls they got the night before the game," Graham said. "One of the things we've even talked about doing is taking their cell phones from them and collecting them so they don't have all those distractions. Everybody means well, but that's a distraction in itself."


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