ASU's Jaelen Strong '50-50' for Saturday after concussion

BY foxsports • November 18, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State could be without its No. 1 receiver against Washington State on Saturday after Jaelen Strong suffered a concussion in the team's loss to Oregon State.

Coach Todd Graham confirmed after practice Tuesday that Strong had suffered a concussion late in ASU's 35-27 loss in Corvallis on Saturday and is currently going through concussion protocol.

"It's obviously being very cautious," Graham said. "He has improved dramatically. It just depends. I should know more tomorrow, but probably 50-50 (to play) is what I'd say."

Strong dressed partially for practice Tuesday but wore a green non-contact jersey and did not take part in individual drills during the portion of practice open to the media. During the final minutes of the game Saturday, Strong tried to return to the game, but the team's medical staff would not allow him to.

"He did clear up really good yesterday," Graham said. "The severity of it, I think it would be considered a light (concussion)."

Strong had nine catches for 103 yards before suffering the injury and leads ASU with 982 receiving yards on 71 catches this season.

HOOD STILL ABSENT

Junior defensive tackle Jaxon Hood remains absent from team activities, and Graham on Tuesday expressed doubt that ASU will get him back this season.

"Right now, if you're asking me to guess, probably not," Graham said when asked if he expected Hood back for ASU's remaining games.

Hood has missed the past two weeks of practices and games tending to what ASU has termed "personal issues." Hood, ASU's most veteran defensive player and a starter in eight games this season, also missed two weeks of preseason camp for personal reasons. No details of his absence have been disclosed.

Hood returned two weeks before the start of the season but arrived out of shape. He worked to shed the extra weight and is currently listed at 300 pounds. This season Hood has recorded 10 tackles, including 2-1/2 for loss.

Sophomore Viliami Latu has started in Hood's place the past two games. Against Notre Dame, ASU gave up freshman Emanuel Dayries' redshirt to give them a backup option at the nose tackle position. 

EXPLOSIVE ISSUE

Asked what ASU has to prepare for against Washington State and Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense, Graham didn't even have to think.

"The whole deal around Pac-12 play is explosive plays," Graham said. "They do a great job throwing the ball over the top."

Washington State owns the nation's No. 1 passing offense, averaging 477.6 passing yards per game. It ranks sixth nationally in plays of 40 yards or more (14), is tied for third in plays of 50 or more yards (nine) and is tied for fifth in plays of 60 yards or more (six).

Freshman Luke Falk has orchestrated the Cougars' offense since starter Connor Halliday suffered a season-ending ankle injury against USC two weeks ago. Since taking over, Falk has completed 82 of 118 passes for 817 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.

"We haven't played anybody that's a pass-first team like they are," Graham said. "We've just got to eliminate the big plays."

Against Oregon State, ASU gave up three touchdowns of 66 yards or more, the last a 67-yard passing score.

QUICK HITS

-- Safety Jordan Simone (stinger) and linebacker Laiu Moeakiola (shoulder) practiced fully Tuesday, and Graham said he expects them to play Saturday.

-- ASU kicks off at 11 a.m. locally Saturday, its earliest kickoff under Todd Graham and perhaps in program history. Graham on the early start: "Well, it's different for us. I think in actuality we're just ready to get back on the field and play."

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