Offense, Aggressive Defense And No Injuries Highlight Final Scrimmage At Camp Tontozona
Aug. 24, 2003
By Brian Gomez
CAMP TONTOZONA -- The Arizona State football team's weeklong journey toward progress came to an eventful end Saturday morning just the way head coach Dirk Koetter wanted -- with lots of offense, aggressive defense and no serious injuries.
Sun Devil freshman quarterback Sam Keller shined in his team's second full-contact scrimmage, completing 7 of 15 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns as hundreds of fans packed the sidelines at Camp Tontozona.
On defense, senior safety Brett Hudson set the tone early by sacking junior quarterback Andrew Walter to halt ASU's second possession. Junior defensive end Ishmael Thrower and sophomore linebacker Jamar Williams later recorded sacks, before junior cornerback Chris McKenzie made one of the scrimmage's most athletic plays with a pass breakup near the goal line.
Sophomore tailback Cornell Canidate and senior tailback Mike Williams paced the Sun Devil ground attack, combining for 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Canidate (46 yards on six carries) amassed all of his yardage on a 60-yard scoring drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown run. Williams (37 yards, nine rushes) found the end zone from two yards out after carrying the ball four times to put the maroon squad in scoring position.
'Coach kept calling my number, and I was producing numbers, so he said he was going to keep giving me the ball,' Williams said. 'I just tried to run as hard as I could.'
Four days after going 6-for-10 for 128 yards and two touchdowns in ASU's first scrimmage, Keller raised more eyebrows Saturday with another impressive performance. He looked calm and collected in the pocket, waiting for receivers to create openings while he read multiple defensive fronts.
Keller's first touchdown pass came in the form of a 23-yard strike to sophomore wide-out Moey Mutz, who finished with three receptions for 77 yards. Keller then hooked up with freshman wide receiver Terry Richardson, before gunning a 17-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Rudy Burgess.
'I thought I made some good throws, but I still need to slow down,' Keller said. 'I'm still nervous out here, and I'm still getting used to the offense.'
Although sophomore quarterback Chad Christensen was 4-for-6 for 47 yards with a 17-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Stephen Bisnett, his most impressive contribution surprisingly came on special teams. Christensen batted sophomore tailback Hakim Hill's fumble on a punt return back in bounds, enabling junior tight end Aaron Austin to make the successful recovery.
Freshman quarterback Mike Affleck completed only two passes in two attempts, but one of them was a 50-yard strike to Burgess, who sprinted untouched down the sidelines for a touchdown after shaking free from a defender just past midfield.
'That one was kind of a makeup for all the mistakes I had earlier in practice,' said Burgess, who hauled in three receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns. 'I felt like I had to redeem myself.'
The position battle between freshman Jessie Ainsworth and senior Tim Parker continued Saturday when each place-kicker was given ample opportunities on field-goal tries. Ainsworth was 4-for-5, with a long of 51 yards, and Parker was 2-for-4, making a pair of 50-yarders.
'It's just really too close to call,' said Koetter, whose team stayed relatively healthy Saturday, other than losing senior tailback Jermaine McKinney to a knee injury midway through the scrimmage. 'It's difficult with the makeshift goalposts to get a real good read on where we're at, but I think both Jessie and Tim can handle it.'
Camp Tontozona Tidbits:
After completing an eight-day stint at Camp Tontozona by scoring a touchdown in Arizona State's annual intrasquad scrimmage, senior tailback Mike Williams was one of the first players ready to leave.
Although Williams was tired Saturday upon rushing nine times for 37 yards, he wasn't nearly as fatigued as he was earlier this week when inclement weather forced the Sun Devils to make several 17-mile, one-way bus trips from Camp Tontozona to Payson.
'This is what we've been waiting for all week,' Williams said. 'I'm ready to go back home and lie in my own bed.'
ASU head coach Dirk Koetter thanked Payson officials Saturday for letting his team use the city's Astroturf field at Rumsey Park. The Sun Devils held about half their practices in Payson, since the Camp Tontozona field was often too wet to use.
'We did have some rain issues, but it was just nothing more than an inconvenience,' said Koetter, whose team will resume practices Monday in Tempe in preparation for its Sept. 6 season opener against Northern Arizona. 'This is a beautiful spot, and it's great to get out of the heat.'
RECEIVERS RUN DEEP: The Sun Devils showed their depth at wide receiver Saturday, even without sophomore Matt Miller, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury. Senior Skyler Fulton hauled in six passes for 65 yards, freshman Rudy Burgess made three catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns, sophomore Moey Mutz snagged three receptions for 77 yards and one TD and freshman Terry Richardson scored one TD on three catches totaling 34 yards.
'All of us are just making plays,' Richardson said. 'We know it's not just one player who is going to get all the balls and all the love. It has to be all of us this year. We need all the receivers clicking every time.'
UPLIFTING PASS RUSH: Junior Jimmy Verdon was pleased Saturday by his team's pass rush, which didn't come solely from the defensive line.
Although defensive ends Ishmael Thrower and Nick Baker got their due with one sack apiece, sophomore linebacker Jamar Williams and senior safety Brett Hudson both sacked junior quarterback Andrew Walter.
'Today was a lot better than last week,' Verdon said. 'I was happy, but you can always work even more. You can't be satisfied.'
SCRIMMAGE NOTES: Freshman safety Sean Hinton intercepted a pass in the corner of the end zone that was thrown by sophomore quarterback Chad Christensen ... sophomore cornerback Mike Davis Jr. blocked a field goal ... junior cornerback Chris McKenzie blocked a punt.
COACH K's AUDIBLES: Koetter said his team has more playmakers this season than it ever has in his previous two years at the helm ... Koetter was impressed most Saturday with freshman quarterback Sam Keller.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
|J. Ainsworth||4-5||34, 35, 44, 51|
|T. Parker||2-4||50, 50|
Mike Davis Jr. - Blocked Field Goal
Sean Hinton - Interception
Jamar Williams - Sack
Jermaine McKinney - Blocked Punt
Brett Hudson - Sack
Gabe Reininger and Ishmael Thrower - Sack
Nick Baker - Sack
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