ASU notebook: Wilkins and Harry’s health, Danny Gonzales’ promise
TEMPE, Ariz. — ASU football quarterback Manny Wilkins and wide receiver N’Keal Harry will use the Sun Devils’ bye week this week to rest up and, hopefully, take the field against Stanford next Thursday.
Wilkins was shaken up by a hit against Colorado on Saturday in the fourth quarter as he took a hit and fell awkwardly. ASU didn’t have another drive on offense after that. As for Harry, the junior wideout was returning a punt in the third quarter when he was drilled by a defender, and he would go on to play just 13 snaps in the second half.
Wilkins and Harry did not participate in practice but head coach Herm Edwards told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Monday, “They’re going to play. I’m not worried about that. I think this week helps us though.”
“I feel good, just getting our body back right,” Wilkins said Wednesday. “I went out early and threw, but besides that, I didn’t go to practice, no. When we’re doing all our Stanford stuff, I’ll be– I mean I can practice, but Coach Herm is just giving us a little bit of rest.”
After losing on the road to Colorado on Saturday, the Sun Devils are at the halfway point in their season and sit at 3-3. They get a weekend off before playing early in the week next week, hosting the 4-2 Stanford Cardinal. It will, obviously, be crucial that ASU has Harry and Wilkins back by then.
“You always do that, and I did that in pro football, that’s one of my things during the bye week,” Edwards said of resting players like Harry and Wilkins. “The players taking the majority of reps have been a little bit– they can practice, but why? […] So Manny and those guys, they go through the walkthroughs and then we’re letting them rest a little bit.”
Edwards went on to say that Wilkins and Harry aren’t the only players who are tending to nagging injuries.
Following the loss to Colorado, all three of ASU’s losses this season are by one touchdown.
“I had a player-led meeting a few days ago and I let our team know that we’ve got to look at this as such a good thing that three games, there hasn’t been no blowout, anything,” Wilkins said. “Combine the three games, we’ve lost by 21 points. So if we score four more touchdowns throughout this season and we win all of those games, now everybody’s talking to us about playoff and all this stuff.”
Wilkins, a redshirt senior, explained his predicament with playing on a football team that’s so close to a better record but hasn’t seized all of its opportunities to win games.
“I don’t have time. Time isn’t on my side to come back and have a season be over and say, ‘Hey man, we can put these little things together next year, we can do this.’ I don’t have next year,” Wilkins said. “We’ve got to figure it out. And we will. We’re so close. And I can see it, and that’s why I’ve been so encouraged with this football team and how hard we play. There isn’t a lot of negative things that you guys see on the field in terms of the effort that this team gives.”
DANNY GONZALES: ‘I’LL QUIT’
Speaking of being very close, defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales continued to reiterate his message that his defense isn’t “very good” yet.
“In my opinion, we’re still not very good on defense,” he said. “We’re good enough to be in games.”
He was, however, pleased with the fact that his freshmen starters — of which the Sun Devils have four — have played above where some may expect them to, given their inexperience.
Gonzales is encouraged that, given the promise some of the younger players have showed, ASU will be a good defense down the road. And if he doesn’t?
“Over the next two years, we’ll be really good on defense, or I’ll quit. Promise,” he said. “We will be really good on defense or I won’t be here.”