ASU notebook: Holliday switches to defense
OCT 08, 2012 4:39p ET
Holliday, a junior who was listed on ASU's first depth chart of the season as the starting "Y" receiver, practiced with ASU's defense Monday and said the move looks to be permanent -- at least for this season.
"I talked to coach (Todd) Graham a little bit -- he said we're kind of lacking some depth at corner," Holliday said. "Since my reps started to drop offensively, we thought it would be a good move."
Holliday said the position is not unfamiliar to him since he played cornerback and safety in high school. Graham approached Holliday a few days ago about making the move to shore up a thin defensive secondary. Holliday has just one catch at receiver this season.
"We're really trying to look for some guys that maybe can help us on third down, help us in the depth," Graham said. "We think he can run well. He's got some potential there from what I've seen."
Holliday was the second player in less than a week to switch sides, as senior running back James Morrison last Wednesday began working out as a defensive end in pass-rushing situations. Morrison, buried on the depth chart, made the move less for depth reasons than experimental ones. Graham said Morrison will still spend some practice time with the offense.
"He's still backing up at running back," Graham said. "We're just seeing if he can rush the passer."
Morrison and Holliday became the fifth and sixth players to switch sides for ASU this season. Five of those moves saw offensive players move from defense, as running back Deantre Lewis and receivers Kevin Anderson and Jarrid Bryant all moved to defensive back. Redshirt freshman Mo Latu moved from defensive line to center.
Graham said he has never moved so many players, mostly because he has never faced the depth issues he has so far this season. While the moves have also been part of an effort to simply get athletic players on the field, Graham says he would prefer fewer changes.
"I don’t like moving people," Graham said. "Most of the movement you've seen is really just taking looks at guys because, for the most part, we've stayed pretty healthy. But we don’t have any depth at really critical positions."
Graham also said some of his thinking in moving players might come from his days coaching high school football, where players typically play multiple positions, often on both sides of the ball.
While Holliday said ASU's defensive scheme makes adjusting easier, he'll still need some work before playing cornerback in a game.
"Some of it comes naturally," Holliday said. "The toughest adjustment is probably the little things, the fundamentals, like backpedaling -- I haven't done that in three years."
Morrison was the last player to leave practice Monday, staying behind with co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph to get in some extra work. He said the coaches have told him he might see the field on defense as soon as this week against Colorado.
"I have confidence in myself doing it," Morrison said. "Coach said I've got good hands and I'm quick off the ball. Those are two of the best things to do when you're rushing the passer."
SPOTLIGHT ON THE SUN DEVILS
ASU steps into the spotlight this week with the first of two straight Thursday night games that will be televised nationally. While there are pitfalls to consecutive midweek games, there's also beneficial attention.
"Our kids are excited about those games, and I think recruits are too," Graham said.
ASU has an opportunity to showcase itself beyond the region and to potential recruits, particularly in next week's game against current No. 2 Oregon. With the extra attention, though, comes the potential for distraction. Especially against Oregon, the hype machine could be at work.
"You can't believe all that stuff," Graham said. "You can't buy into it."
Graham said Monday that he'd prefer to not play the two Thursday night games consecutively because it creates an awkward practice schedule. It also creates academic challenges for players, as they often miss classes while traveling.
"There's pros and cons to it, but I don't make those decisions," Graham said. "I'm just excited to be playing Colorado."
While Colorado offers the potential for a trap game, with the players possibly looking ahead to Oregon, Graham said he has not even mentioned the Oregon game to the players yet and is making sure they don't overlook Colorado, which is 1-4 so far this season.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
-- Former ASU baseball player and current Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier stopped by practice Monday. Ethier visited with Graham before practice and stayed to watch for a while. He became the second former ASU baseball player to visit practice this season, as Diamondbacks shortstop Willie Bloomquist did so earlier in the year.
-- Junior defensive tackle Mike Pennel, suspended indefinitely last week for failing to meet team standards, has been removed from the team's official roster. Pennel has not been at practices, and there have been no updates regarding his status, but his removal from the roster can't be a good sign for his chances of returning.