Jarrell Woods has been the X-factor in Arizona State’s rushing attack this season, stranded on the sidelines due to a sore ankle.
However, the mystery surrounding the sophomore figures to be solved against California on Saturday, as Woods figures to finally get an opportunity to show his talent for a Sun Devils offense that might need it.
Woods, who was hurt shortly before the season opener, is healthy. And with Ryan Torain out for the season with a foot injury, ASU might need his legs.
“It feels like it’s time to step up and go in and make the most of the opportunity,” said Woods, who is behind Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance on the depth chart.
“When it comes, either you shine or you don’t. It’s time for me to contribute to the team and help us win.”
During the preseason, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior-college transfer displayed impressive quickness to the outside.
He is also powerfully built and could provide some short-yardage work between the tackles — the Torain trait the Sun Devils could miss the most.
“He can do both,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
“He has explosive speed and can run inside and outside. He has deceptive skills. But Jarrell has been hurt so much, he has not been able to show it.”
Woods, who redshirted at Utah in 2005, ran for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns for West Los Angeles College a season ago.
In other running-game news, Erickson said he has still has not decided on whether to remove the redshirt from junior tailback Shaun DeWitty.
“I go back and forth on it myself,” Erickson said. “When I decide on what to do, I’ll let everybody know.”
Tight end Brent Miller (knee) did footwork on the side and participated in 7-on-7 (noncontact) drills, but was not part of full-contact work.
“I was happy to see where he’s at,” Erickson said.
“There’s a possibility he could play this week. If he doesn’t, then I’m sure he’ll be able to play against Oregon (on Nov. 3).”
Dane Guthrie, who has been practicing on the defensive line and at tight end, could play both ways this week.
The junior has been bugging coaches about being a dual player since moving to defense from tight end before the season.
“We might put him in some of our packages (on offense),” Erickson said. “A lot of it depends on if Brent Miller can play.”
Fewer than 5,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game, and about 500 are left for ASU’s contest against Southern California on Thanksgiving night.
Five Sun Devil players did cell-phone interviews with national media after practice, believed to be an all-time high. Among those on the other end of the line were Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com and writers from the Chicago Tribune and The Sporting News.