TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State has the benefit of an extra week of practice before its first game against Sacramento State. Coach Todd Graham believes they’ll be better offensively and defensively thanks to the extra prep time, but for as many things as ASU has worked on this fall, the one that apparently still needs the most work is a Graham staple.
“The team that has the most disciplined football team will win this league,” Graham said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do with that. We’re not anywhere near where we need to be from a discipline standpoint.”
That discipline starts with penalties. Graham delivered on a promise of reduced penalties last season, as the Sun Devils went from last in the nation with 79.77 penalty yards per game to eighth in the nation in 2012 with 34.92.
Graham wants that number even lower this season and has accordingly set expectations of his players higher.
“If a guy gets a penalty, I can assure you how I’m going to respond: It’s going to be extremely negative,” Graham said. “That’s the only thing on game day I’m going to get negative about. And you’re not going to stay in. I don’t care who it is. You’re not getting penalties and staying in the game. It’s unacceptable.”
Graham has, as he does each season, brought in officials to meet with his team about how they officiate games and interpret the rules.
Graham’s standard, it seems, is even higher than some officials. He said during the team’s Camp Tontozona scrimmage he noticed more penalties than were even called.
Discipline is not limited to penalties, though. Graham says it also involves players doing What they are coached to do instead of freelancing. At greater risk, Graham said, are veterans who have been in the system and have greater confidence in themselves.
“In my opinion, last year we just met the minimum on discipline,” he said. No doubt we’re a better football team than we were last year … but we’ve got a long way to go to get to where we need to be.” PUNTING BATTLE CONTINUES
ASU released a depth chart Tuesday night ahead of its Sept. 5 opener with Sacramento State, but, as tends to be the case with depth charts, everything was not quite as it suggested.
While walk-on junior Dom Vizzare was listed as the first-team punter, the competition for the top job is not over. Freshman Matt Haack remains in the mix.
“We’ve got a really good punting battle going on,” special teams coordinator Joe Lorig said. “Yesterday I was leaning more toward Dom being the guy, and then they come out today and they both punt great. So it’ll be an ongoing competition.”
Graham also said he’s leaning toward Vizzare but defers to Lorig on special teams. The position has been a concern since the graduation of Josh Hubner, who was one of the top punters in the nation last season. Haack was expected to take the job but has battled inconsistency.
“(Vizzare) just has more experience, has been in a college football game,” Lorig said. “But I recruited both of them, so I have great confidence in both of them.” ‘THE SNAKE’ IS BACK
Former ASU quarterback Jake Plummer has joined the Pac-12 Network.
The Network made the addition of Plummer official Wednesday, announcing the former Pac-10 Player of the Year will make his debut in studio on Saturday, Sept. 7. Plummer will be part of the Network’s rotating group of in-studio analysts for game day coverage on Saturday and also appear on Pac-12 Football Weekly, the Network’s mid-week analysis show.
Plummer carved out a place among ASU’s greatest quarterbacks from 1993-96 before playing 10 seasons in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos. At ASU Plummer was a First Team All-Pac-10 selection in 1995 and 1996 and led ASU to its last Rose Bowl appearance in 1996.
After remaining out of the spotlight for a few years following his retirement from the NFL, Plummer moved last year from his home state of Idaho to the suburbs of Denver and expressed interest in getting back into things.
In the spring, Plummer met with fellow Idahoan and current ASU starting quarterback Taylor Kelly. Plummer also met with ASU’s other quarterbacks and addressed the entire team following the annual spring scrimmage.