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WSU may face another backup QB against ASU

Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Oct. 15 in Boulder, Colo. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Oct. 15 in Boulder, Colo. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

PULLMAN – The topic of Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins’ health is the cause for speculation among Washington State fans, and debate in his own locker room. Wilkins insists he is in fine physical condition. Sun Devils coach Todd Graham disagrees.

If Wilkins is unable to play next Saturday, it will mark the second consecutive game the Cougars have played against a backup quarterback.

Check that. Backup Brady White is currently using crutches to move around after suffering a right leg injury against UCLA, a game Wilkins sat out, so third-string quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole is the player who would trade in a headset for a starting job if Wilkins does not play against the Cougars.

Wilkins returned early from a high-ankle sprain suffered against USC to play in ASU’s 40-16 loss to Colorado last weekend.

After the game, he tersely told reporters that he was 100 percent healthy, that he suffered no health problems, and that he practiced every day the preceding week with a series of one-word affirmative answers to those questions.

On Tuesday, he took responsibility for his team’s loss, but declined to acknowledge that his problems were in any way health-related.

“I’ve just got to play better,” Wilkins said. “I’ve got to put the ball in guys’ hands, be more decisive with locations. It’s just getting things rolling faster. Obviously we didn’t’ do that Saturday night, but I’m not discouraged or anything in our offense, and we’ll bounce back.”

And yet, Wilkins suited up but did not participate during Tuesday’s practice. Getting up only to stand behind Sterling-Cole and observe during drills. Asked about his quarterback’s status on Monday, Graham acknowledged that Wilkins was not at full strength against Colorado last weekend and that it limited what ASU could do offensively.

Graham also said he is hopeful that Wilkins will be healthier this week, so perhaps his sitting out Tuesday’s practice was merely to get extra rest. Even so, if the Cougars do face ASU’s starting quarterback on Saturday, it will be a starting quarterback who may not be entirely healthy, and will certainly not have the benefit of a full week of practice to prepare for the WSU defense.

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