Practice report from day three of fall camp: ASU football is focused on fundamentals and discipline

Day three of preseason practice showed dedication to mastering the basics

ASU football is on day three of its preseason practices, and the environment is already competitive because all elements of practice are being taken seriously by the coaches and players, especially the fundamentals. 

“Championship fundamentals. That is what football comes down to,” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “During the summer, you’ve got some extra time and you get to watch games. I watched the first three games (from last season) and we just didn’t have championship fundamentals.”

One of the fundamentals that was a major focus was agility, especially in regard to footwork. 

The offensive line spent an extended period of time doing power-step work before any other play-based drills were done. 

“It all starts with your stance first and then it goes straight to your footwork,” Likens said. “Anything after that, whether its mechanical throw, where your hands are placed on the ball and things like that.”

Additionally, the linebackers followed suit by focusing on one of the position's most basic skills — blocking. All the linebackers worked on hand placement with the sliders to hone in on that skill. 

As practice moved on, the fundamental work was put into action as the players started to run plays and practice general team based work. 

Junior wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams solely played on the first string with senior Manny Wilkins as the quarterback. 

“He's great. I just feel like we have that connection,” Harry said about Williams. “We came in the same class, we’ve been together for a couple years now.”

Harry was the most consistent with the most completed plays, including a couple of dazzling moves in the open field that he punched in for touchdowns during 11-on-11 play between the first team offense and defense. Junior wide receiver Ryan Newsome also made some impressive grabs on the second string offense.

All plays were carried out in an intense and competitive fashion, and this is all a part of ASU’s new way of practicing. 

“I think just the way we do stuff, just the way we go about practice. He [Likens] wants us to take practice as a game and not take anything lightly,” Harry said. “Just make sure we’re doing what we can to be the best team we can be.”

This focus, as well as the concentrated work on fundamentals, is possible because the ASU football team utilized its summer very well. 

“Summer was really big for us and how we do things,” Wilkins said. “We’re being a lot more disciplined in everything we do.”

This discipline is becoming more apparent as the team is quickly adjusting to more new things, such as practicing at night to begin fall practice.

“It comes with the advantages and the disadvantages just because we get home so late,” Harry said. “But I really feel like it will help us because this is really what time we play, and we’ve got to get used to it." 

For now, ASU’s goal is to have all fundamentals function as the core of its game, and with the progress made on the third day of practice, that is certainly a possibility. 

It's often the little details of the game that pay the biggest dividends once the season unwinds, and for ASU, establishing fundamentals is a key in the early stages of fall practice.

“I like the way they’re starting to figure things out,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “The more they understand it, the more we can practice out there. Still a lot of things we’ve got to cover, a lot of little things we’ve got to do right.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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