PHOENIX - Coach Todd Graham knows there's more to football than just X's and O's. The second year coach purposely took his Sun Devil football team to Camp Tontozona outside Payson in order to help the players get to know each other better and bond.
That's right, bond! Something that many of us take for granted or place too little value on. After all, we rationalize, isn't it all about blocking and tackling? Not exactly! If you want your team to succeed week in and week out in a very difficult environment with a lot of pressure and high expectations, the players need to be close.
Not best buddies "all the time close," but close enough to trust each other when the going gets tough, and that's the kind of support coach Graham wants in his players. He's looking for guys who will trust each other in the tough times, and support each other when it's appropriate and needed.
It's the little things that keep a team close and can give you a competitive advantage in life. So many of the lessons learned in football help players when they step outside the white boundary lines and give them purpose and significance in life.
So while Taylor Kelly threw for 72 yards and two touchdowns and Marion Grice rushed for 53 yards behind some pretty good blocking by the offensive line, it's the things we didn't see at Camp T that may mean the most to this team when they hit that four game stretch of Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame.
So be glad that this team is loaded with talent, but be thankful that coach Graham can see beyond the weight room, the practice field and the number of tackles in practice.
It may just be the "intangibles" that gets ASU where it wants to be in January, playing in the 2014 Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.