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Danny Gonzales focused on Territorial Cup, ASU despite swirling job rumors

Arizona State assistant head coach Danny Gonzales chats with DB Chase Lucas during the team’s first preseason practice Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE, Ariz. — When you need any information on the Arizona State Sun Devils history as a football program, defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales most likely has the answer.

A walking encyclopedia of the school’s detailed history, Gonzales embraces the traditions around him. Especially the Territorial Cup and what it means to the Sun Devils, past and present.

“It’s the 120th year of this great festivity, excited about it, you know I’m a big Prop 200 guy,” Gonzales said after practice on Wednesday. “I think it’s a great rivalry, the NCAA’s declared it the longest rivalry in all of college football, which makes it special. Getting to be a part of it last year, you find out how real it is, how much the hatred is and it grows. I’m excited about it, excited to play.”

The Arizona Wildcats come in having lost their last six games by a total of 10 or more points after compiling a 4-1 record to start the season. While the team as a whole has struggled, the offense has undergone some changes as Arizona sputters to the finish line. Khalil Tate isn’t the only one throwing the ball for the Wildcats anymore, as the team has gone to a two-QB look, alternating between the senior and freshman Grant Gunnell.

The two signal callers have combined to throw for 2,965 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 239-of-383 passing. Tate has recorded 12 scores through the air in 10 games, compared to Gunnell’s nine in eight games, but the freshman has been better at not giving up the rock, tossing just one pick to Tate’s eight. Throw in Tate’s ability to run the football — more than 325 yards and three touchdowns on 79 attempts — and Gonzales and the Sun Devils are stuck planning for not one, but two starting-caliber quarterbacks.

“They’re so dynamically different and so they run different plays with different quarterbacks in there,” Gonzales said. “You’re basically practicing two semi-gameplans, a lot of that stuff will marry together.

“They’re a good football team, minus the seven losses in a row, they’re good on offense,” Gonzales added. “They run the ball very well, they’ve got two quarterbacks that are very dynamic, different.

“Everybody knows about Khalil Tate, he’s one play away from scoring every single play. We’ve got to make sure they can’t run the ball and I think Gunnell is going to be a special quarterback down the road. He’s done some really nice things this year.”

Luckily for Gonzales, his defense is coming off an impressive showing over Oregon, bringing with it bowl eligibility and a huge boost in confidence to a secondary that had been lacking this season.

Gonzales not focused on outside coaching rumors

While the Sun Devils prepare for the rest of their season, Gonzales’ name has come up for head coaching vacancies at UNLV and New Mexico.

Gonzalez addressed the coaching rumors Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m the defensive coordinator here at Arizona State. I do love this place. I was taught a long time ago … that when people talk, you always listen and I think that’s the best thing to do. when you’re wanted it’s always nice,” Gonzales said when asked about the reports. “I don’t chase anything, I haven’t made a single phone call for somebody to get me that job. My name’s been brought up a couple times and I haven’t made a single phone call and I won’t. It’s just not what I do, I was also taught that in this profession that those guys constantly chasing jobs get a reputation. And that’s just bad business.

“I love where we’re at, we’ve got a great situation here with my family. We have a great opportunity here, I really believe that. As bad as it seems in some aspects, we’ve made progress and we’re going to continue to make progress and I think we have a really good chance to do really good things around here.”

There’s a connection to at least one of the schools as Gonzales played at New Mexico before coaching as a graduate assistant from 1999 to 2002. He also served as the team’s video coordinator from 2003 to 2005 before being promoted to a full-time assistant. He coached the team’s safeties, kickers, punters and long snappers from 2006 to 2008.

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