ASU coach Todd Graham: Ball security will be the key to measuring the offense’s success
Although the turnover wasn’t extreme this offseason, offensively, ASU football might look a bit different (seven starters returning) in 2013 than it did in 2012.
The good news for Todd Graham is that the team’s leading passer (Taylor Kelly), rusher (Marion Grice, who split time with Cameron Marshall and D.J. Foster) and receiver (Chris Coyle) from a season ago are still in the fold.
The bad news, is that the trio was also part of a unit that gave the ball away 1.9 times per game in 2012 — good for seventh-best in the conference.
It’s an area Graham hopes will also look quite a bit different when ASU takes the field starting Thursday night against Sacramento State.
“If we can go through this football season and not turn the ball over, I think we can win every game,” Graham said Monday. “That’s pretty hard to do.”
The second-year ASU coach noted that recent practices in preparation for the Hornets have him concerned about the offense’s ability to limit turnovers on a consistent basis.
Sunday he said was the best offensive practice he’s seen since coming to Tempe. However, Monday’s practice was marred by sloppy play and giveaways.
“That’s going to be the key, being consistent there,” said Graham. “We practice right now better than any day we did last year. But it’s still not where it needs to be.”
While an absence of consistency might be noticeable for the offense as it goes into the 2013 season opener, the Sun Devils’ new personnel might be a cause for optimism as the season progresses.
“I think our receiving corps is better than it was last year,” said Graham. “I think we have a lot better weapons in the run game and in the pass game. We have bigger-framed guys like Jaelen [Strong] and Joe [Morris] who are 6-foot-5 and 205 or 215-pound guys that help us.
“I think Chris Coyle is better. D.J. [Foster] is the one I’ve seen the greatest jump in how much better he is than last year. I do think Taylor [Kelly] has matured. The key in how we’re going to measure that is one thing: ball security.”