TEMPE, Ariz. — There were not many negatives to take away from Arizona State’s season-opening 63-6 win over Northern Arizona last week, but ASU coach Todd Graham has harped on one continually: Offensive tempo.
Following the game, Graham called the tempo “excruciatingly slow,” and on Monday said it was “the worst thing about Week 1.” He addressed tempo again Tuesday after practice, reporting some improvement but still pushing for more.
“On the 40-second clock, we want to be snapping the ball at 25 seconds — that’s running a play ever 15 seconds,” Graham said. “We’re probably running at a play every 22 seconds right now, which is way too slow. We need to get that in the 20 range. I’d like to be somewhere between 15-18.”
Graham said establishing the 15-second pace can take about three years to perfecct. In his first year at Tulsa (2007), the offense averaged 80.4 plays per game. The next three seasons saw averages of 78.4, 72.4 and 77.4.
In Graham’s lone season at Pittsburgh, the Panthers averaged 78.7 plays per game. The Sun Devils ran 71 plays last week against NAU.
“Our tempo was very, very, very slow,” Graham said. “We are waiting on the defense. It’s like we are being courteous to them and letting them line up. We need to go.”
ASU’s play total in Week 1 probably would have been higher if not for the lopsided score. Graham said ASU was allowing time to run out on the play clock in the second half so as not to run the score up. At halftime, ASU was on pace to run 82 plays.
The latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll was released Tuesday, and it was announced that Graham is now on the board of 59 head coaches that vote.
“It was an honor for them to ask me,” Graham said. “It’s something I take great responsibility in. It’s something I think is really important, the integrity of that poll.”
Graham replaced USC’s Lane Kiffin, who relinquished his vote after telling reporters he would not vote his team No. 1 but actually did.
Graham said he and senior associate athletic director of football Tim Cassidy will research the football landscape each week before casting his vote.
“It’s important for us to make sure we’re looking throughout the whole country,” Graham said. “We wouldn’t have taken that responsibility on if we weren’t going to do a great, thorough job of it.”
SECONDARY TAKES ANOTHER HIT
ASU’s already thin defensive secondary took another hit this week as sophomore cornerback Rasahd Wadood will have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and miss the season.
Graham confirmed Tuesday that Wadood will use a medical redshirt year. Wadood was competing for the fourth cornerback spot behind Osahon Irabor, Deveron Carr and Robert Nelson. ASU previously lost sophomore Devan Spann for the year to a shoulder issue.
Likely to step into the fourth cornerback role are redshirt sophomore Kevin Anderson, who was converted from receiver this spring, or redshirt junior Jarrid Bryant.
— A day after Graham said redshirt junior linebacker Anthony Jones could work his way into the starting lineup, Jones took snaps with the first-team defense in practice. Redshirt sophomore Carl Bradford was with the second team, but Graham said he considers both starters.
— Freshman safety Laiu Moeakiola practiced Tuesday with the second-team defense despite a hamstring injury. It was initially believed the injury could keep Moeakiola out several weeks, but Graham reported Monday the freshman is doing better.