08/18 - ASU notebooK: Practicing on turf affecting players - East Valley Tribune: Sports

08/18 - ASU notebooK: Practicing on turf affecting players

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Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2003 11:42 pm | Updated: 1:50 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

PAYSON - Minor leg injuries are starting to mount as the Arizona State football team continues to practice on an artificial surface.

Eight players have had problems at one time or another since the team moved its practices from Tempe to Payson's Rumsey Park.

Defensive end Jimmy Verdon (ankle), safety Joey Smith (ankle), linebacker Jamar Williams and defensive end Ishmael Thrower (ankle) have missed the most time.

Linebackers De Andre Johnson and Barton Hammitt have also missed time.

The Devils practiced in the hottest temperatures since leaving Tempe and two starters could not complete the 100-yard sprints at the end of practice.

Safety Riccardo Stewart cramped up severely and was surrounded by medical personnel as he lay prone on the turf.

A few feet away starting defensive end Nick Johnson, stretched out, his head on a towel, was having his blood pressure checked.

Both players were patted down with wet towels to cool down their bodies.

After the medical staff finally got Stewart to his feet, he cramped again and nearly fell down.

"Riccardo has a history of cramps," coach Dirk Koetter said. "He probably shouldn't have stayed in that 100-run too much."

Johnson, arrested for fighting before camp, has been running extra laps since camp began.

"Nick didn't run all summer," Koetter said. "He'll be fine."

Some of the players have complained about the heat from the Field Turf surface, that it penetrates their shoes, causing a discomfort.

Late night moisture prevented ASU again from practicing at Camp Tontozona.

"The field got worse," Koetter said.

ASU did hold a one hour walk through on the camp grounds Sunday afternoon.

"One good day in the sun, I think we'll be fine," Koetter said.

Director of football operations George Wynn planned to purchase blowers to help the drying process in case there are residual moisture problems.

"George is on a one-man crusade to get the team on the field," Koetter said.


Freshman safety Daniel Varvel had two interceptions during an 11-on-11 drill Sunday.

His first pick was against starting quarterback Andrew Walter.

The second off freshman Sam Keller.

After the second interception, defensive coordinator Brent Guy spotted a flaw in Varvel's play.

"All you're thinking about is score," Guy admonished him during the runback.


Koetter said freshman quarterback Mike Affleck "hit the wall mentally" Saturday.   . . Keller is taking some of Chad Christensen's reps as Koetter continues to evaluate the newcomers. He said fewer reps won't hurt Christensen because "he knows the offense well." . . . Corona del Sol graduate Mike Pollak was the third-team center Sunday.

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