ASU football's Graham: Running back Kalen Ballage could return vs. USC

The sophomore could make his return after recovering from mononucleosis

ASU football could see one of its biggest offensive weapons return to the field on Saturday night, according to head coach Todd Graham.

Sophomore running back Kalen Ballage, who has not played this season after contracting mononucleosis, could see some time against USC.

"We're sure hoping so," Graham said. "I don't know that for sure, but that's what we think."

Graham said he "doesn't know 100 percent" if Ballage will be able to go Saturday, but he will practice this week and is not expected to play any defense.

"Yeah, we wouldn't have any plans to use him on defense," Graham said. "That's mostly because of conditioning and stuff like that. It's pretty hard to do that. It'll take him a little bit to get back to where he needs to be there."

Ballage ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries in 13 games last season.

Devin Lucien 'doubtful' to come back this week

While ASU may get Ballage and redshirt junior running back De'Chavon Hayes back this week, Graham said he is not sure the Sun Devils will have the services of redshirt senior wide receiver Devin Lucien.

Graham said Lucien, who suffered a left knee injury against New Mexico, is "doubtful" to play this week.

Lucien has 13 catches for 147 yards in three games this season, with four catches for 43 yards before suffering the injury last Friday.

Offensive line still a work in process

ASU's offensive line has been a weak link through the team's first three games, forcing Graham to use a three-man tackle rotation between redshirt junior Evan Goodman, redshirt senior Billy McGehee and redshirt freshman Sam Jones.

"Those are our three tackles that are going to play," Graham said. "I think getting them healthy where they can play each week. Sam was hurt in camp. That slowed his process. And then Evan got hurt, now Billy got hurt. So it's trying to get a rhythm there.

"You want to have five guys that are playing all the time, and so as long as you're rotating them, that hasn't established yet. So that's been slower than we thought it would be, but I think it has a lot to do with the injury things, and then just getting those guys experience."

Despite the offensive line struggles, Graham said that there has been no consideration to move redshirt senior guard Christian Westerman outside to tackle and presumably moving redshirt junior Stephon McCray to replace him.

"We've got too much really invested there," Graham said. "We could do that. I just don't know how — I don't know if that's — right now I don't think that's the best for our team and probably definitely not what's best for Christian."

Bercovici is anxious for rematch against hometown team

ASU redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici and USC are no strangers — Bercovici grew up in nearby Calabasas, California and his second career start featured the "Jael Mary" — and Bercovici said Monday that the Trojans mean something more to southern California kids.

"I don't think there's any more oomph to an SC rivalry than when you sign up to be a Sun Devil," Bercovici said. "I think for anybody, especially Southern California kids that commit to ASU, you know that game is automatically circled on your schedule."

Related Links:

Report Card: Grading ASU's performance against New Mexico

ASU vs New Mexico: By the numbers


Reach the reporter at fardaya@asu.edu or follow @fardaya15 on Twitter.

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