2014 Spring Football
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analysis coming this week at CampusInsiders.com
- Sophomore Thomas Tyner continued his quest to leapfrog Byron Marshall as the Ducks' feature back this season. While there's no doubt both will get plenty of touches in the fall, Tyner was the more consistent runner in the spring. On Saturday, while Marshall had four carries for five yards, Tyner rushed 10 times for 58 yards, adding a 22-yard touchdown catch.
- Massive D-lineman Arik Armstead is no longer pulling double-duty on the hoops team. And his singular focus showed throughout the past month. The 6-8 junior is looking to start approaching the five-star potential that accompanied his signing two years ago. Armstead was a nuisance on Saturday afternoon, frequently pressuring the pocket.
- A pair of redshirt freshmen wide receivers have made the most of their opportunities to impress the staff this spring. Devon Allen and Darren Carrington are still rough around the edges, but not so much as they were last fall. The rising pair combined to catch five passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns to finish the spring strong.
- Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio is closing in on the No. 2 quarterback job behind Sean Mannion. Del Rio, who earned rave reviews as a walk-on in Tuscaloosa, completed 9-of-17 passes for 80 yards and no picks. He continued to get more reps in the spring at the expense of other contenders for the opening, like Brett VanderVeen and Kyle Kempt.
- It'll take a collaborative effort to replace flanker Brandin Cooks in the passing game. Richard Mullaney is a budding star at split end, but he's going to need help for Mannion to approach last year's output. Sophomore Victor Bolden showed some flashes on offense and special teams, and should be ready for lift-off in 2014. Rookie Hunter Jarmon turned heads as well on Saturday with his three receptions.
- Terron Ward and Storm Woods may be the favorites to shoulder the load on the ground, but good luck trying to convince redshirt freshman Damien Haskins. The assertive 5-8, 225-pounder continued to make a statement in the spring with a game-high 66 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Haskins is trying to muscle his way into an already crowded rotation.
- While WR Darreus Rogers and TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick didn't factor prominently in the 2013 offense, that changes this fall. Both players are coming off breakout springs, which they'll carry into the summer. Cope-Fitzpatrick, who's atop the depth chart, led all receivers with three receptions for 56 yards, while Rogers had a pair of grabs for 40 yards.
- The play of the Trojan D ensured that the running back logjam would stay unsettled for the next few months. The offense produced just one run of at least 10 yards, and finished with 34 yards on 41 carries. In Steve Sarkisian's post-spring depth chart, Javorius Allen and Tre Madden are separated by an ‘OR', with Justin Davis looking to join the mix once he gets healthy.
- Trojan coaches are excited by the development of defensive linemen Delvon Simmons, Kenny Bigelow and Claude Pelon, who'll be joining returning starters Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods in the rotation. Simmons is available after sitting out 2013 following a transfer from Texas Tech. Bigelow is the five-star nose tackle, who redshirted last fall. And Pelon is in his first year out of Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.
- The rebuilt Sun Devils defense was a pleasant surprise in practice and scrimmages. That trend continued over the weekend. Despite being forced to break in new starters up and down the depth chart, the D flew around the field to help keep the offense in check. Junior S Jordan Simone led the way with nine tackles on the afternoon.
- Marion Grice is auditioning for NFL scouts, but running back depth will not be a problem for the Sun Devils this season. In D.J. Foster, Deantre Lewis and Kyle Middlebrooks, ASU has three dangerous options to complement the passing of Taylor Kelly. Foster led the team in receiving yards, Lewis rushed for a game-high 88 yards and Middlebrooks capped his best spring in Tempe.
- If NT Mo Latu keeps his weight down, he's liable to be a force in the middle of the line for the defense. The massive junior is listed at 6-3 and 384 pounds, but he's noticeably quicker than he was a year ago. If Latu builds on this past spring, it'll allow DT Jaxon Hood to slide into more of a pass rushing role that was handled by Will Sutton the past two seasons.
- If Cyler Miles, suspended in early February, isn't reinstated, sophomore Jeff Lindquist could run away with the starting quarterback job. Lindquist had the upper hand on redshirt freshman Troy Williams during practice, and then he added an exclamation point by throwing four touchdown passes on Saturday. Lindquist has shown a knack for connecting on the move, a plus in Chris Petersen's attack.
- The race to replace Bishop Sankey at running back remains every bit as inconclusive as the quarterback derby. Deontae Cooper led all rushers to wrap up his first full spring since before undergoing three reconstructive knee surgeries in three years. But Jesse Callier, Dwayne Washington and Ryan McDaniel, who've lettered for the program, sat out the game with injuries. While LB Shaq Thompson practiced at running back during the spring, he only appeared on D on Saturday.
- DE Hau'oli Kikaha was downright oppressive in 2013, getting to the quarterback 13 times. The senior is poised for an encore performance in 2014. He was unblockable throughout practice, capping the session by racking up 3.5 sacks on Saturday versus an overmatched Husky O-line.
- Yeah, there's been some jockeying and separation, but Arizona still doesn't know who'll be under center on opening day. Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon led the way with 74 yards and two touchdowns, with Texas transfer close behind at 71 yards and two scores. USC import Jesse Scroggins has made strides, too, to make this a three-man competition. Nothing that happened on Saturday provided any indications which direction Rich Rodriguez might be leaning.
- Whoever wins the job will be supported by one of the Pac-12's deepest corps of receivers. After developing youth out of necessity in 2013, the Wildcats are injecting Austin Hill and DaVonte Neal. Both sat out last year to injury and NCAA transfer rules, respectively. Hill is a proven commodity, while Neal advertised his ability to make people miss in the slot and on special teams.
- Senior RB Terris Jones-Grigsby continues to make his case for snaps, as the Wildcats audition successors for Ka'Deem Carey. Jones-Grigsby not only started the spring game for Arizona, but he led all rushers with 62 yards and a touchdown on just six carries.
- The defense remains ahead of the offense on the Farm … as usual. The White team, comprised of Cardinal defenders, dominated, particularly at the line of scrimmage. Stanford has a lot of work to do on the O-line, but the defensive front seven is going to be the team's strength … as usual.
- Sophomore OLB Patrick Kalambayi was one of the surprise defensive standouts on Saturday afternoon. Filling in for the injured Kevin Anderson, he racked up seven tackles and two of his team's eight sacks. Kalambayi provided additional evidence that Stanford won't only be talented on D in 2014, but it'll be deep as well.
- In the pivotal backfield battle to replace Tyler Gaffney, give this latest round to sophomore Barry Sanders. Sanders rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 12 carries, adding a pair of catches for 19 yards. He's going to be a change-of-pace for a Cardinal ground game that's relied so heavily on 225-pound north-south runners. Junior Kelsey Young, who's going toe-to-toe with Sanders, finished second on the team with 27 yards on seven carries.