ASU forced to shuffle its secondary after injury to freshman safety
TEMPE — It was the one goal head coach Todd Graham had going into Saturday’s scrimmage at Camp Tontozona: Stay healthy.
It didn’t happen.
Safety Marcus Ball, who had been running with the first team defense, sustained a right shoulder injury Graham confirmed Monday that will keep the freshman sidelined 3-to-5 weeks.
“Not any surgery required or anything like that,” Graham said after practice.
With Ball unavailable, senior Robert Nelson has been moved from cornerback to safety.
“We’re just taking a look,” Graham said. “I think he liked it. I think he can do it.”
Nelson played all 13 games last season, getting his first and only start in the Territorial Cup against Arizona.
“We feel like that Robert and Lloyd (Carrington) and (Alden) Darby and Osahon (Irabor) are our four best guys (in the secondary),” Graham said. “We just got to make sure that we get our best guys on the field, and I like getting the most speed on the field.”
That will include the 6-foot-3 Ball once he gets healthy.
“I just think he’s a guy that can help us win a championship this year,” Graham said. “He’s too talented not to be on the field. I anticipate him playing.”
Special teams, specifically the kicking game, has been a bright spot the past couple of days.
Graham, again, singled out freshman Zane Gonzalez, who hit all eight of his field goal attempts Saturday.
“He was 100 percent again today,” Graham said.
And the punting, trying to find someone to fill the shoes of honorable mention All-American Josh Hubner?
“I think Matt Haack really stepped up. He had great operation timing, boomed two big punts, so he’s probably with the 1s right now,” Graham said.
“(We) did come out of (Camp T) with a lot more confidence in the punting game. Got a lot of confidence in our extra point and field goal game, and Alex (Garoutte) is doing outstanding on kickoffs. Felt good coming out of the scrimmage about our kickers.”