SP football practice report from Wednesday: Defense finds ways to shed blocks

ASU's defense continued to work on forcing turnovers in Wednesday's practice

On Wednesday, the Sun Devil football team took to the Kajikawa Football Practice Fields to continue improving as a team before the first game of the season on Sept. 1 against UTSA.

Quarterbacks and centers arrived earlier than the rest of the team to practice taking snaps. The first team duo of senior redshirt quarterback Manny Wilkins and junior center Cohl Cabral were joined by second team redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Kurt Walding and Dillon Sterling-Cole

Sterling-Cole took snaps from redshirt junior offensive lineman Cade Cote, and Walding received snaps from redshirt junior guard Alex Losoya, who was working on his technique. 

Offensive coordinator Rob Likens made sure that the o-lineman were to "press the 'a' gap." 

"The key is you got to get the linebacker," Likens said. 

This opens holes for the running backs to run through and get down field. One player that Likens showed positive support for was freshman running back Brock Sturges who has become a part of the offense in ASU's last two practices. 

Coach Shaun Nua led the defensive linemen in working on the sleds.

D-lineman who participated in the drills: 

Darius Slade, Jermayne Lole, George Lea, Dougladson Subtyl, Shannon Forman, Jordan Hoyt, Renell Wren, Jalen Bates and D.J. Davidson.

Nua helped Forman on his form so he could fight through blocks.

In another drill, Nua had the defensive linemen go one-on-one with a man in the backfield. The goal was to fight through the block and wrap up the running back.

Immediately following the drill, the second field specialized in kick returns. The return team was led by junior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and redshirt sophomore running back Isaiah Floyd, who were back deep to return kicks. 

Junior wide receiver Ryan Newsome and redshirt senior wide receiver Ryan Jenkins also returned kicks with Aiyuk and Floyd.

The team then moved to 11-on-11 drills for a brief stint.

The first team offense moved to the second field for 11-on-11:

  • QB: Manny Wilkins 
  • RB: Eno Benjamin
  • WR: N’Keal Harry, Kyle Williams, Terrell Chatman
  • TE: Ceejhay French-Love
  • OL: Casey Tucker (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Cade Cote (C), Zach Robertson, (RG), Quinn Bailey (RT)

First team defense:

  • DL: Jalen Bates, Renell Wren, Shannon Forman
  • LB: Malik Lawal, Merlin Robertson, Darien Butler
  • DBs: Langston Frederick, Chase Lucas, Dasmond Tautalatasi, Kobe Williams, Demonte King

Other players that took first team reps included Floyd, Newsome, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frank Darby and sophomore wideout Curtis Hodges.

For the defense, linebackers Stanley Lambert, Nick Ralston, Kyle Soelle and Khaylan Kearse-Thomas saw action. As for the defensive front, defensive lineman Darius Slade, D.J. Davidson and Tyler Johnson also took the field.

After breaking off from 11-on-11 action, the linebacker coach Antonio Pierce had the linebackers practice forcing fumbles by punching the ball out.

"Eyes on the punch," Pierce said as the drill was performed.

Lastly, the linebackers worked on running in a figure eight and keeping themselves tight in cuts before working on a drill that helped them strip the ball out of the quarterbacks hands as they beat a blocker.

"If you don't hit it, it's not a fumble," Pierce said as the linebackers performed the drill.

Other notes: A New England Patriots scout was at practice on Wednesday, and the team's warm-up stretch song was In My Feelings by Drake. 

Reach the reporter at sbemanue@asu.edu or follow @SebastianEman5 on Twitter. 

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