CAMP TONTOZONA – For a moment, it looked like quarterback Taylor Kelly had simply forgotten his helmet.
There he was in full uniform, just like his teammates, but wearing an ASU baseball cap; certainly not the preferred head gear for a practice in full pads.
“I tried to put my helmet on today but (my forehead is) just too swollen and sore. Hopefully (Wednesday) I can put my helmet on and get back into team (drills),” he said.
Kelly participated in individual drills and 7-on-7 work, but then became a spectator when both the offense and defense lined up against one another during 11-on-11.
The Sun Devils’ starting quarterback is two days removed from taking an inadvertent elbow to his forehead that opened up a cut that required 11 stitches to close.
“It was a walk-through a couple of nights ago,” Kelly explained Tuesday. “Me and Kyle Middlebrooks just doing a play-action (drill). He was over-exaggerating his elbow on the handoff and we just connected and (blood) just started pouring out.”
With Kelly sidelined, Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank split the reps under center with the first-team offense.
The star of ASU’s first practice at Camp Tontozona was running back Marion Grice.
The senior broke off a 20-plus yard run through a huge hole over the right side of the offensive line, caught a screen pass for more than 70 yards down the right sideline plus found room to run around the left edge after a direct snap from center.
“I just pretty much try to give the defense a great look,” Grice said. “(When) they go against a great back in the Pac-12, they’ll be ready for them.”
A full week now into camp, Kelly, while admitting they are far from perfect, has liked what he’s seen from an offense that returns six starters.
“Overall, I think we’re doing a great job of taking shots down the field, being efficient and protecting the football,” he said.
ASU is spending the remainder of the week here, 17 miles northeast of Payson, with an intrasquad scrimmage scheduled for Saturday.
“It’s great,” Kelly said. “I love being up here; get out of the heat, just be with the team. I’m excited to come closer with our guys.”
Former Sun Devil All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame corner Mike Haynes, who addressed the team the night before, attended practice as did former head coach Frank Kush, who started the Camp Tontozona tradition in 1960.
“It was a really good day,” head coach Todd Graham said.
“I wish that we didn’t have summer school until the 13th,” he continued. “We would report to camp and come here, and spend two weeks here. I love it here. You couldn’t do more for your team than that. It’s the best investment that we do, and it’s also a great tradition.”