Last year, Kerry Taylor arrived at Arizona State and quickly showed that he could be an impact wide receiver. His impact, however, was limited to eight catches and one touchdown.
It was not a lost season by any means, as Taylor believes that his modest numbers were not a reflection of his ability, but of how much room he had to grow.
“Of course, you always want to play more,” Taylor said. “Now that I look back on it, I felt that I did as well as I could for as young as I was. When you are a freshman, you think that you can go in there right away and be the man. But it was a big learning experience.
“Now, I have that experience. I want to build on that and take it to the next level.”
During spring practice, Taylor — a Chandler Hamilton High School product whose father, Keith, and uncle, John, played in the NFL — established himself as an emerging offensive threat. The 6-foot, 191-pounder has carried that momentum into fall workouts, where he has gotten most of the snaps at slot receiver.
“He’s been our most consistent receiver,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “You look at what he’s done in the spring, summer and so far in practice, and he has been very steady. He can play inside and outside, and he’s really worked hard to become better. It’s showing.”
Taylor said that his route-running has been his main area of improvement.
“I went out with (quarterback) Rudy (Carpenter) on the weekends and did a lot of work on getting our timing down,” Taylor said. “I’ve been persistent in being precise in my patterns. That’s been the key for me.”
The Sun Devils’ second practice on Saturday was their first scheduled workout inside ASU’s new indoor practice facility. Lightning forced the team inside on Thursday.
Erickson said that the squad will continue to work out outside as much as possible, including on weekdays after classes commence. Evening practices are scheduled at least through the Georgia game on Sept. 20.
“When we will use the facility is in certain situations, during two-a-days or when we’re a little sluggish because of the heat,” Erickson said. “And when we get set to play somebody on FieldTurf, which we seem to do on the road with everyone in our league, we can get a feel for it during the week.”
ASU sported a different look on the defensive line while running the nickel formation on Saturday, with defensive end Luis Vasquez moving inside, replacing David Smith at tackle, and James Brooks coming in at end.
Erickson said that other combinations could be experimented with.
“The idea in nickel is to get your four best pass rushers on the field,” Erickson said.
In the secondary, Max Tabach came in as the second safety, with Troy Nolan sliding to nickel back.
Vasquez left the second practice with a right knee sprain, but Erickson said that the injury is not serious.
Running back Keegan Herring (shoulder) remained in an orange (noncontact) jersey, and running back Shaun DeWitty (hamstring) did not take part in the second workout.
Defensive lineman Spencer Gasu (hamstring) practiced.
Erickson was not pleased with the intensity of Saturday’s first practice.
“We weren’t running around like we needed to,” Erickson said. “They know that, I know it, and anyone who watched us knows it. But I told them that I’ll give them this morning. That’s the last thing I’ll ever give them.”