This Saturday, Arizona State will take to the Sun Devil Stadium turf for the annual spring game. This will mark the conclusion of Todd Graham's first tangible on-field demonstrations of his Sun Devil vision, and set the stage for fall camp.
With every area of the team in the midst of significant transition, there will be no shortage of intriguing storylines in all three phases to follow on Saturday.
Obviously, all eyes will be on the ongoing three-man quarterback battle between Michael Eubank, Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly. After 14 practices this spring, no man has either separated himself from the pack, nor has any fallen back due to poor play.
By now, what each player brings to the table is well known: Bercovici is the polished passer of the group, Eubank the physical specimen and running threat, with Kelly being a mix of the two. Each has had great practices thus far mixed in with some struggles as they try to impress while learning the new offense. Saturday will mark the last chance each gets to make their claim before the stretch run in the race begins in August.
With the quarterbacks in flux, the running game has been strong. With Cameron Marshall and Kyle Middlebrooks out due to injury, senior James Morrison has been the offensive star thus far. His powerful and decisive running have earned him the nickname "Tank" from Graham. Behind him has been Deantre Lewis, who continues his recovery from last season's gunshot wounds. While his explosive burst has yet to return, he has been an effective player.
The most questions on offense will come at wide receiver, where the loss of three key players from 2011 has created great opportunity. While there is a ton of talent, there are also a lot of unanswered questions that can begin to find answers on Satruday. Can Jamal Miles be more than a swing pass threat? Will Rashad Ross become more than a straight-line speedster? Will Kevin Ozier continue his impressive climb up the depth chart? Will J.J. Holliday, Gary Chambers or A.J. Pickens make a name for themselves?
The offensive line has been a pleasant surprise thus far, especially in leading the way for ASU's new run-heavy attack. Tackle Brice Schwab has put a disappointing 2011 behind him to become an impressive force, and Kody Koebensky seems to have the inside track at center after fending off Mo Latu. With the defense poised to continue their attacking ways, it will be paramount for the line to hold firm and lead the way.
Aside from the uniforms, the Sun Devil defense will bear no resemblance to last year's unit. With drastic changes in schemes, sets and philosophy, the 2012 defense will bring the attack to the opposing offense.
After practicing in a 4-3 set for most of the spring, the final week of practice has seen the installation of the 3-4. Seeing how and when the team utilizes these different looks will be one of the most interesting facets to follow during Saturday's game.
Whether it is a three or four man front, Will Sutton will be a prominent piece. Normally a defensive tackle, he shifts to end in a 3-4, with his size and skills translating well in either spot. Another key player who remains in either set is Carl Bradford. As perhaps the team's best pass rusher, Bradford figures to start as an end in the 4-3 before moving out to the outside rush linebacker spot in the 3-4.
The linebacking corps will be a fascinating watch. Kipeli Koniseti has emerged as a playmaker while Brandon Magee works his way back from injury, and Brandon Johnson and Grandville Taylor have been impressive in spring. With the defense's focus on aggression, much of the success of that approach will depend on the play at this position.
In the secondary, the big story to follow will be at cornerback, where Deveron Carr is now battling Robert Nelson for a starting job opposite Osahon Irabor. While Irabor has been a star of the spring, Carr has had his struggles, opening the door for Nelson to make a run at his job.
Alex Garoutte's kicking inconsistency continue to madden. After an uneven--to say the least--2011, Garoutte has had his share of struggles in the spring. He has missed several kicks, but made just enough to keep his hold on the job. He's looked better of late, and his performance on Saturday will be a big moment in maintaining that momentum.
Another issue experienced by the team has been blocked kicks. Numerous PATs and field goals have been smothered thus far, so it will be key to see if the team can both continue the pressure while also keeping it at bay.