Arizona State starting tight end Zach Miller did not practice and wore a walking boot on Tuesday, three days after spraining his left ankle in the Sun Devils’ loss against Louisiana State.
Coach Dirk Koetter did not offer a prognosis for Miller, who was injured when an LSU defender rolled on the ankle during a third-quarter play.
“Nowadays, any time a guy sprains his ankle, they put him in a boot until he can walk without a limp,” Koetter said. “You don’t tape the thing up and tell him to get back in there anymore.
“I don’t like to put limits on these guys for when they might get back. No one wants to play more than Zach Miller, and he’ll get back when he can.”
Miller, a sophomore, said the ankle felt better, but he was not able to put any weight on it.
“I have to go day by day and see how it feels,” Miller said.
In other injury news, defensive end Kyle Caldwell (quadriceps), tailback Randy Hill (ankle) and receiver Terry Richardson (shoulder) did not practice.
COVER THE KICKS
Kicker Jesse Ainsworth has been so touchback-reliable in the first two contests — 13 of the junior’s 16 kickoffs have been downed in the end zone — that the coverage unit has to guard against assuming the ball will not be returned.
On Ainsworth’s last kickoff against LSU, three players covered hard, but the rest did not, Koetter said. Fortunately for ASU, the trio of Josh Barrett, Stephen Bisnett and Alex King prevented a big return.
“It can be a double-edged sword,” Koetter said. “If guys take it easy, they have a chance to return it a long way. We told the guys not to assume Jesse will kick it out every time.
“We’ll play games where wind is more of a factor, but it’s a great deal to have a weapon like (Ainsworth).”
The offensive and defensive schemes of Saturday’s opponent, Northwestern, are uncommon. But they will help the Sun Devils get ready for teams down the line, at least on offense.
The Wildcats’ Utah-style spread offense is being used at Oregon, a Pac-10 foe ASU plays on Oct. 8. Northwestern often lines up defensively with three linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.
“They will give us looks and stuff that we don’t see a lot but we will in the future,” Koetter said. “We might as well prepare for it now.”
Punter Chris MacDonald — who has averaged 48.5 yards on four kicks this year, with two inside the 20 — was placed on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award.. . .
Koetter is not concerned about his team overlooking Northwestern.
“When you are coming off a game like the one we just lost, you’re really, really hungry to get back in the win column,” Koetter said. “Our guys will be ready to play on Saturday.”