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August 11, 2011
Bray looking for consistency in secondary
The fallout from lapses in the secondary during Wednesday's initial Arizona State camp scrimmage were clear a day later.
Safeties coach and defensive coordinator Craig Bray demoted senior Eddie Elder and had senior Clint Floyd and junior Keelan Johnson working with the first-group in the morning Dickey Dome session. It was the first time all camp that Elder didn't work with the top group.
A terse Bray admitted he was very unhappy with his position group's play in the scrimmage after watching the film. At least four of the 39 plays from scrimmage saw significant coverage errors that were costly or could have been.
"We've got problems," Bray said. "We are not covering the right people. We had a variety of [assignment errors] but we stayed really base in the scrimmage so it is just an issue of guys doing the right thing.
"You have to remember my expectations are very high. So, when we don't have a perfect day I am not real happy. And we never have a perfect day."
Last season the Sun Devils frequently played very solid defensively for large stretches of games only to give up big plays downfield due to the same types of mistakes that occurred Wednesday.
With an athletic front seven that typically gap fits and runs to the football well in open spaces, Bray knows it's the secondary where his defense can go from good to great. Part of the dilemma of making it so is dealing with injuries that have left the team thin in key spots.
Senior cornerback Omar Bolden will miss a majority of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL, leaving junior Deveron Carr, sophomore Osahon Irabor, sophomore Alden Darby and redshirt freshman Devan Spann as the key players at the position.
Carr has sat out much of camp with a hamstring strain that isn't serious and missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that also kept him out during the spring. His presence in the lineup is crucial and his potential vast, but he has to stay healthy.
Spann has had his left shoulder dislocate on him twice in camp and it's an injury that will likely eventually require surgery. Whether he'll be able to play this season, and for how much of it remains to be seen.
So depth is clearly an issue there and it also is at safety, where Elder, Floyd and Johnson are the only three returnees with experience. Floyd has a partially torn right biceps that is limiting his contact for the next few weeks and Johnson missed the scrimmage with a slight hamstring strain, though he practiced fully Thursday.
The lack of bodies at safety has led to true freshman Ezekiel Bishop spending time with the second-unit and coach Dennis Erickson has said he'll see the field this season.
How well the two groups do collectively will determine the overall capability of the defense, and perhaps whether Bray will show a lot of zone blitz -- something that was infrequently used last season -- or not.
Bray said overall in camp the play of the secondary has been decent, and the improvement of ASU's passing game is making for a serious challenge on a daily basis.
"Well the offense is good," Bray said. "And the offense we run is extremely difficult to defend. There is so many options, so it is hard especially for our young kids that come in. They are trying to figure it out with all this stuff flying around. So, it is a great teaching tool for us. And it will actually get easier when we play other opponents."
With projected starting senior guard Andrew Sampson out with an MCL sprain and backup guard Brice Schwab out with a minor ankle sprain, offensive line coach Gregg Smith moved senior Dan Knapp inside to right guard and had senior Aderious Simmons at right tackle and sophomore Evan Finkenberg at left tackle.
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