"I don't like moving people. Most of the movement you have seen is really just taking looks at guys because though for the most part we stay pretty healthy, we don't have any depth at very critical positions."
Those comments were made by Arizona State head coach Todd Graham yesterday during his press conference, and were precipitated by the recent shifts of two more Sun Devils from the offensive side of the ball over to defense.
This past week has seen running back James Morrison see practice time at defensive end and wide receiver J.J. Holliday shift to cornerback. This follows the spring offseason moves of wide receivers Jarrid Bryant and Kevin Anderson to the secondary, and last month's move of running back Deantre Lewis to safety, Earlier in the year, defensive tackle Mo Latu moved to offense to play center. On a less permanent basis, defensive end Davon Coleman has seen time as a goal line fullback.
Is anyone safe? What next? Cameron Marshall at Devilbacker?
While some fans have been left concerned over the frequent shifting, in the grand scheme of things, the tinkering not only makes sense, but is necessary. It would actually be far more concerning if there wasn't such a high level of experimentation.
- Team Need: Take a look at the depth chart at cornerback. Deveron Carr, Osahon Irabor and Robert Nelson are all quality corners. And then? Uh...yeah. The injuries toDevan Spann and Rashad Wadood took an already thin position and make it dangerous. Hence, three wide receivers moved over to see if they can become that ever so elusive fourth cornerback.
- Player Opportunity: Lewis had a sensational debut season in 2010, but he was dealt a harsh setback following the season when he was struck by an errant bullet, sidelining him for the entire 2011 season, and his return to form is still ongoing. In a seemingly annual tradition, Morrison put together an impressive offseason, only to be buried on the deep depth chart, along with Lewis. Holliday was running with the first-team offense early in fall camp, but fell behind several others, and so far has just a single catch. These players all have great athleticism and skills, and while they could remain at their current spots and have little chance to contribute-as has been the case in prior seasons-they now are getting a chance to help at an area of need.
- Best 11: But the biggest factor in the changes is the philosophy of Graham to play the best players. Period. There are no pre-exisiting loyalties between the staff and any of the returning players, and the new players brought in with this year's recruiting class are well aware that nothing is promised. The staff wants to win, and with entirely new schemes, it's simply due diligence to shift pieces around from former positions to see if there are better fits elsewhere.