Sun Devils feeling healthy heading into Saturday’s showdown with USC

Sep 22, 2015, 12:59 PM | Updated: 3:12 pm
5. ASU 36...Duke 31 (Hyundai Sun Bowl) - The Sun Devils led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but fell behind 31-30 with just five minutes left. But freshman Kalen Ballage uncorked a 95-yard kickoff return which set up fellow freshman Demario Richard's fourth touchdown of the day to retake the lead just :18 later. DB Kwieshi Brown sealed it with an interception in the end zone with :45 left, and ASU had their second bowl win in three tries under head coach Todd Graham.
(Hyundai Sun Bowl)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State football team may be getting healthy just in time for Pac-12 play. Coach Todd Graham said after Tuesday’s practice that he expects running back Kalen Ballage (mononucleosis), defensive tackle Viliami Latu (leg/ankle), running back De’Chavon Hayes (hamstring) and wide receiver Devin Lucien (hamstring) to be able to play Saturday against USC at Sun Devil Stadium.

Free safety Armand Perry (ankle) is the only player Graham still believes is doubtful.

“We gave them two full days off… and then we didn’t practice in pads Monday so they had three full days to rest and that really helped,” Graham said. “I never say this but our trainer Gerry Garcia and our medical staff, they did an unbelievable job of taking care of our guys.”

Lucien suffered his injury in the first half of Saturday’s game against New Mexico and did not return, but Graham said he took some reps in Tuesday’s practice.

Latu and Hayes missed last week’s game and Ballage hasn’t played this season. He left the team one day before its season opener against Texas A&M in Houston when he was diagnosed with mono.

Having a full complement of offensive weapons will clearly help the Sun Devils when they face No. 19 USC.

“That not only helps offense and defense but our special teams as well,” said receiver D.J. Foster, who has also been dinged up but is feeling better this week.  “A lot of those guys who haven’t been playing are on special teams so it will help all phases of our football team.”

Graham admitted after the A&M game that losing Ballage at the last minute forced the team to reinvent its game plan on the fly.

“You saw our offense start rolling after the second series (against New Mexico),” said running back Demario Richard, when asked how Ballage will impact the offense. “Now picture that from the first series to the 80th. It’s just another weapon and everybody stays fresh. It’s great that he’s back.”

Graham also gave a shout out to backup spur linebacker Marcus Ball on Tuesday, saying “we want him to get well soon.” Graham provided no further details and all a school spokesperson would say is that it’s a medical issue. Ball missed much of last season with an undisclosed medical issue.

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