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ASU football OC Zak Hill gets 1st look of Jayden Daniels at spring practice

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona State football quarterback Jayden Daniels had his first day of spring practice Tuesday after not playing Monday due to his class schedule.

After one practice, he said he felt a big difference than last year’s spring practice when he was a true freshman.

“A whole year ago … first college spring ball, so everything was moving faster,” Daniels said. “This time I’m more in control. The game’s slowing down.”

Offensive coordinator Zak Hill got his first real look at the quarterback.

“What I really noticed with him is his ability to make any throw,” Hill said. “He throws the deep ball probably better than any quarterback I’ve seen … He can make throws from all different angles, and that’s what impresses me the most.”

With that, Hill acknowledged there are some mechanical things he and Daniels will work on. Daniels said he needs to work on his footwork and continue watching how pro players run different concepts.

While Daniels impressed Hill, the quarterback’s first day of practice didn’t live up to the his own standards. The rising sophomore called the offense “sloppy.”

It’s unsurprising with a new system. Hill said there was some “tightness” on the field as players tried to figure out the right ways to line up.

“There’s a little bit of that paralysis, trying to see signals, and they’re trying to get it right,” Hill said. “Once they get the flow and understand the signals, it’s going to be a lot more smooth.”

There were a few plays that stood out: Rising sophomore wide receiver Ricky Pearsall had a nice catch on the sideline and 6-foot-5 tight end Nolan Matthews twice made a grab over a defender during the practice.

Early in camp, Hill is looking at different ways tight ends could be used in the passing game. While Matthews made a couple nice grabs, Hill said he’s still “trying to figure (Matthews) out.” At other places around the tight end room, Hill envisioned Case Hatch as a player who can leak out for catches or run block and said Curtis Hodges, who hurt his ankle Monday, has impressed him with the effort he’s put in to learn the offense.

While the offense wasn’t as sharp as Daniels would like, defensive back Aashari Crosswell was pleased with the secondary. He said the group is getting adjusted to switching away from the 3-3-5 defense.

“What they put in there for us right now, it’s a good fit for us,” Crosswell said. “We’re a little slow to it but we’re adjusting to the new calls. Everybody getting to the point where we feel comfortable making plays.”

Crosswell had in interception. Cornerback Jack Jones, who was wearing a green shirt, very nearly had another but his legs were taken out by another defender going for the ball, Evan Fields.

Jones looked particularly strong in 1-on-1 drills while covering wide receiver Frank Darby. In three such plays, Daniels didn’t even get a throw off because of Jones’ coverage.


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