WSU football begins preparations for Arizona State

Thursday , August 21, 2014 - 9:05 AM

OGDEN -- The season opener for the Wildcats is just a week away, and the team has transitioned from camp to preparation mode for the Arizona State Sun Devils next Thursday.

“I thought we made a lot of strides to pick up some of the stuff that Arizona State’s going to do to us,” said WSU coach Jay Hill. “That was the big focus today was just moving on to them, and starting to install our schemes that we’re going to use specific to Arizona State.”

While there was noticeable fatigue among the players, Coach Hill said his team dug deep and gave the coaches what they asked for, giving everything they had.

“We just want to clean up some things, but we looked good,” said senior offensive lineman and team co-captain Alex Land. “We’re picking up new blitzes, so the offense was looking good, the running backs were picking them up really well.”

The biggest issue that Weber sees from the Arizona State defense is their blitzing, putting pressure not only the offensive line to protect their quarterback, but the quarterbacks themselves.

“(Our) quarterbacks (need to) continue to get the ball out of their hand on time,” said Hill. “We don’t want the quarterback sitting in the pocket holding the ball. Holding the ball is how you get sacked, and we can’t afford sacks. They have got to get better at that.”

As has been the case throughout camp, Coach Hill expects more from his backup squads in order to be successful, saying that due to injury, their names will eventually be called.

“We need some of the young wideouts to step up,” said Hill. “I feel good about that top group, but we got a couple kids dinged up right now. We got to get the young guys to continue to step up, because we’re going to have to play with some of those guys.”

Hill also mentioned that the running backs have taken a step up, citing the physicality as the reason behind their improvement.

“Coach (Quinton Ganther) just expects a lot out of us, so we don’t take anything less than perfect,” said sophomore running back Zach Smith. “I mean sometimes we come out here and we might mess up, but we’re sure to pay for it. The next practice we come out and try to execute everything to the best of our abilities.”

On the defensive end, the health and youth of the linebackers is currently the biggest concern for the Wildcats.

“We need them to get healthy, that’s the biggest thing. We need Luke King back, and he’ll be fine,” said Hill. “We need those young guys to continue to step up. I do see some progression in them, so that’s good. We got to get fully healthy at that spot, and we need those young guys continue to get better, which I saw improvement today.”

Junior linebacker Luke King started the first six games for Weber last year before suffering a knee injury. He returned to action in the last game of the season against Idaho State.

King is being evaluated on a day-by-day basis with an injured quad, but is expected to be ready to go for the Sun Devils next week.

With Jadrian Clark closing in on being 100 percent on his recovery from a hamstring injury, Coach Hill isn’t quite ready to name the starting quarterback just yet.

“Billy (Green) is doing a great job, and Jadrian’s coming along,” said Hill. “It’s a big decision and I want to be sure about it.”

As the team wraps up camp and begins deeper preparation for their first game, they will host a fan event this Saturday (Aug. 19), featuring a “Chalk Talk” with Coach Hill at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of Stewart Stadium, followed by a practice from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. All fans are welcome to attend.

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