Though theoretically that loss would seem to help the offense, when combined with the less serious injuries suffered by wide receiver Gerell Robinson and running back James Morrison, the deck became fully stacked against Sun Devil quarterback Brock Osweiler and company.
“It's horrible,” Osweiler said of the injuries. “[They didn’t] really set the tone very well for the morning. Brandon's the leader of our defense and the backbone of our defense. If we lose him [for the season], it's going to be a bummer for this football team but at the same time, injuries happen and guys will need to step up.”
Though generally speaking, the performance level of most of ASU’s practices has been noticeably high, the attention has been stolen by the various injuries – both minor, major and everywhere in between – that have recently occurred.
Saturday was certainly no exception and that is an element that cannot help but negatively influence the team. Specifically focusing on the offense, Osweiler was already without his starting tailback (Cameron Marshall) due to a minor injury, then Morrison was sidelined catapulting lower depth players such as Marcus Washington and walk-on R.J. Robinson into greater roles. Additionally, with George Bell and Jamal Miles not in action, when Gerell Robinson went down, both the run and pass games became painstakingly limited.
“It did affect us, but really that's no excuse,” Osweiler said of Saturday’s injuries. “We need to show up no matter what and come out and play harder than we did today and execute better.”
Though the offense was drained, the defense certainly did its part despite Magee’s injury and other players’ limitations. If one positive is taken from today, it is the opportunity for young depth to see live contact reps on both sides of the ball. Those opportunities have granted the team to improve from top to bottom on both sides of the ball; somewhat surprisingly, thus far in camp there have been equal displays of power shown by the offense and defense, not just a monopoly of dominance by the defense.
“We beat the defense plenty of times in camp but they have come back and beat us the next day—it goes both ways,” said Osweiler. “The previous two years, maybe it was a one-sided deal but that's not the case anymore. This is definitely a football team.”
Saturday, however, was a gloomy day for the offense and the team as a whole; observers could get a strong sense that the injuries are starting to become a major frustration for a squad with the potential for greatness in 2011. Depth, of course, is a key component of any high-caliber team, and ASU increasingly is seeing the need to have ample talent along each rung of the depth chart ladder.
“You just gotta keep going for it, that's why you have  guys on scholarship,” Osweiler said of the need to persist through adversity. “Injuries will happen and guys need to step up and fill those roles. You never want to see anyone go down, let alone a starter and a major impact player. But there's nothing we can do about it and we have to step forward and help the young guys learn the offense, learn the defense and allow them to have the chance to step up.”
Shortly after the scrimmage, injured cornerback Omar Bolden existentially posed the question on his Twitter account, “What does this mean?” in regards to the tests the team has faced since the start of spring practice.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s scrimmage provided even more questions than answers for a team rapidly trying to steer momentum back in a positive direction.