Arizona State football managing loads with spring game approaching

Apr 19, 2024, 8:38 AM

Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State head coach...

Head coach Kenny Dillingham during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, with the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Arizona. (Jeremy Schnell / Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell / Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — As Arizona State football enters the final week of its spring session, the Sun Devils look to be ramping up at just the right time for head coach Kenny Dillingham. Or maybe a little too much?

Managing the team’s workload was one of the main points of emphasis for Dillingham, as Thursday’s practice ended right at the two-hour mark.

Over the past few weeks, most practices have started at 9 a.m. and ended at noon.

“We monitor every movement in our player loads essentially. Our player loads have been 11% to 13% higher per practice,” Dillingham said. “The last player load was a little higher than what we wanted, which is a good thing. But we wanted to de-load them a little bit, take some helmets off and take the banging off before we have a great, hard long practice on Saturday.”

Arizona State quantifies “load” by combining yardage moved, top speeds and acceleration by position groups. Coaches use “loads” to measure how hard the team is practicing.

Dillingham and Co. can even compare workloads from last spring to this spring, which he said is 14% higher this year.

Could this defense win a championship?

Arizona State’s defense has been getting praise throughout spring from Dillingham and defensive coordinator Brian Ward.

The secondary, in particular, has had standout after standout. Whether it is Keith Abney II, Xavion Alford or Cole Martin, the secondary has shined. Add Javan Robinson’s name to the list of standout defensive backs.

Robinson, a redshirt sophomore, has already taken a leadership role in the cornerback room after transferring in from Washington State, where he played three games in Ward’s system as a freshman prior to the defensive coordinator making his way to Tempe before last year.

“I’m loving it out here, loving the atmosphere and loving our team so far,” Robinson said. “The only thing that is different is I feel like my role. Our cornerback room is really young, and I’m one of the older guys. So it was like just teaching those guys what to do, what not to do and taking those guys under my wing. That’s my role.”

Robinson praised cornerbacks coach and recruiting guru Bryan Carrington, whose coaching style he appreciates.

“He allows us to go out there and play,” Robinson said. “He allows us to make mistakes, and then he coaches up while we’re watching film. While we’re on the field, he doesn’t really say a lot to us because he wants us to go out there and feel it out ourselves and play, and then we’ll just coach it up later.”

Redshirt senior Ed Woods, who has appeared in 32 games for the Sun Devils, stressed the importance of making sure everyone does the little things right.

“I try to push the younger guys, making sure they are on time to class and doing the right things when no one is looking. That is what really matters at the end of the day,” Woods said. “Everybody is going to do the correct thing when people are looking, just making sure that they’re doing the extra stuff off the field like watching film.”

With both a veteran presence and youthful expertise, the secondary can take the defense to new heights during the 2024 season.

Spring game next Friday

Arizona State has three more practices until its annual spring game next week on April 26.

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Arizona State football managing loads with spring game approaching