August 15, 2006

Fall Camp 8/14: Sights and Sounds

A larger-than-normal crowd of fans gathered at Monday's afternoon practice at Camp Tonotozona on Monday following a nearby golf event for boosters. Legendary Sun Devil coach Frank Kush and athletics director Lisa Love were among those in attendance for the session, which was extremely upbeat and energetic following a somewhat lethargic Sunday. Here is our regular "sights and sounds" edition.

-With light rain falling through part of the practice, Kush looked on from a seated position well back from the field's north sideline under a tent that provided some relief from the weather. When Jamaal Lewis juggled a ball along as he fell out of bounds on the sideline, a debate ensued amongst onlookers over whether it would have counted as a catch or not. After a brief disagreement, one of the fans turned around to ask Kush, who rhetorically responded by counting out, "You guys have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine guys right there. If you can't figure it out, what good am I going to do?" Of course, everyone laughed.

-Love had her golf attire on -- word is she is pretty good on the links -- as she worked the sidelines, paying close attention to all that was taking place on the field, while simultaneously courteously accommodating those in attendance that wished to have a few words with her. Interestingly -- and we think importantly -- one of the main topics of conversation with several interested boosters was the tremendous start to the ASU career of new basketball coach Herb Sendek. We even overheard one person tell Love to expect several new season ticket holders from his group of friends at the practice.

-In a departure from what we've seen in camp to this point, Rudy Carpenter worked with the first team throughout the session and he did a fine job. We aren't reading anything into this as of now, other than to believe that in the interest of fairness, it makes sense that both Carpenter and Sam Keller would get ample opportunities to work with the first team, because that is the most realistic way to determine which signal caller is out-performing the other. Following the workout, both players were occupied with media requests.

-For the first time in camp the first team kickoff squad took the field and that included Terry Richardson who hadn't returned a single kick or punt that we'd seen in any live situational work. When you see Richardson out there performing in this type of setting, it immediately contrasts against the other guys that had been getting the first team reps to this point. Frankly, there is no comparison.

-As long as we're talking about the kickoffs, many players were able to get reps as return men as ASU looks to figure out who would be the best backups here. Two interesting names that were given a look were Chris Baloney -- sans orange jersey - and true freshman Kyle Williams, who practice for the first time, wearing only a helmet after battling mononucleosis.

-One of the more encouraging developments with the defense on Monday was the return of Tranell Morant to the first-team at one send spot opposite Kyle Caldwell. And Morant looked more energetic and interested than at any point in the entire camp thus far. He was primarily battling Andrew Carnahan and it was an extremely enjoyable head-to-head competition in which both men had successful turns, but Carnahan ultimately proved the victor. Still, it was the best we've seen of Morant to this point.

-The battle for first-team punting duties has been interesting, primarily because both Jesse Ainsworth and Jonathan Johnson have performed very well overall. Ainsworth looks much more fluid and comfortable on the field now compared with last season and it really appears as though he spent a lot of time working on his mechanics and approach to the position in anticipation that he might be needed. He worked with the first-team on Monday but both players did a solid job and the competition should continue through the week. We personally like Johnson a bit more at this point, frankly, but not by much.

- If you asked us who our favorite freshmen recruit is on the offensive side of the ball, the easy answer would be Dimitri Nance and yes, he certainly is an outstanding young talent. But there is something about tight end Lance Evbuomwan that is so striking. Almost every day he does something that makes you shake your head in wonderment.

On Monday, he literally blew up a defender on kick return drills as he was attempting to break down the wedge. It was probably the hit of the day and had players and coaches alike jumping up and down and shouting words of encouragement. When you see Evbuomwan out there playing with the scout team walk-ons on offense, it's actually a bit silly because his natural talent stands out so clearly. In our opinion, the depth of the tight end group has been suspect in camp and Evbuomwan looks better than at least one or two guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

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