ASU football's offensive carousel still spins as two weapons remain limited

With several players limited in practice and a fierce quarterback competition, the offensive line seems to be the only constant this spring

ASU football began the countdown of its final two weeks of spring practice on Monday with six players whose participation was restricted at the Bill Kajikawa practice fields in Tempe. 

Wearing the green, limited participation jerseys were two of ASU's high profile offensive weapons — senior running back Kalen Ballage and sophomore standout receiver N’keal Harry.

Although these two key players were limited in practice, both participated in position drills and kept control of their starting roles. 

Ballage took reps as the starting running back while a trio of wide receivers lined up several yards from the tackles.

Harry was the No. 1 wide receiver with fellow receivers redshirt sophomore and Oklahoma transfer John Humphrey, and redshirt junior Jalen Harvey joined the first team offense.

While the unsightly green jerseys may concern fans, the regular season is still four months away and the Sun Devils have plenty of time to get healthy.

Barnett takes first-team reps under center

With several months until kickoff, the quarterback competition took a surprising turn today as sophomore quarterback and Alabama transfer Blake Barnett commanded the first team offense. Barnett looked natural as he rolled out on the goal-line formation and threw to Harry.

Sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole swapped roles with Barnett and took over the second offense. 

This came as a surprise, especially with the way Sterling-Cole threw the ball this morning. He did complete passes here and there, but a fair amount of his throws were either too low or too far. 

Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins didn’t throw with either offensive group, but after practice Wilkins didn’t look concerned, casually walking around the Ed and Nadine Carson Student-Athlete Center.

It’s anyone’s guess who will start come Aug. 31 when ASU plays the New Mexico State Aggies.

Offensive line adding grit, versatility

The offense is a carousel with several players hoping on and off of starting roles. The only consistent position group is the offensive line. Part of the steadiness of the O-line is thanks to first year ASU offensive line coach Rob Sale.

Head coach Todd Graham said he believes Sale adds grit to the team.

“You can be around Rob for five seconds and he’s got a little edge about him," Graham said. "He’s got a toughness about him. He’s a competitor, and I like that.”

The men in the trenches are focusing less on competing against one another and instead on perfecting their game.

This is especially true for redshirt junior right guard Sam Jones, who said competition does make everyone better. For him, it's about adding finesse to his game.

“Just technique work, polishing up all different types of my game and staying up on the playbook,” Jones said. “Making sure I can play any position if I have to.”

In individual workouts the offensive line consistently looked fluid, working on staying low and executing a powerful first step.

With a solid starting five continuing to take their game to the next level the group will have to do so without any certainty of who they will be blocking for under center come August.

However, Jones said he doesn’t really worry too much who he is blocking for.

“We just go out there and do our job,” Jones said.


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.

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