ASU revamping offense with new OC and quarterbacks
TEMPE — Arizona State fell short of many high expectations last season, primarily on one side of the ball.
The 2021 offense was the second-worst in points per game (28.4) since head coach Herm Edwards arrived in 2018. Quarterback Jayden Daniels regressed in his third season, and in the team’s five losses, the Sun Devils put up 16.4 points per game.
With an NCAA investigation taking place, offensive coordinator Zak Hill resigned, opening the position. An enthusiastic Glenn Thomas was Edward’s answer to fix a broken-down offense.
“This is just a diamond of a place. The city, the university, Ray Anderson, the administration, the whole deal,” Thomas said Thursday as ASU continued with spring practices. “This is just a dynamic place and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Thomas’ enthusiasm for coaching the Sun Devils has rubbed off on the players.
“We’re doing a pretty good job of getting the offense down. We did a lot of studying over this last break,” wide receiver Ricky Pearsall said. “It’s just now getting the guys used to the offense, getting them used to the flow, trusting coach Glenn and going out there and executing it.”
From square one, schematics and the playbook are a big part of implementing any offense. Since 2016, Thomas has held the offensive coordinator position for UNLV (2020-21), Baylor (2017-19) and Temple (2016).
Thomas also has NFL experience as an offensive assistant (2008-11) and quarterbacks coach (2012-14) with the Atlanta Falcons.
Now at ASU, he faces the tall order of finding his next signal caller after Daniels’ surprising transfer. With five quarterbacks on the roster, Thomas has limited opportunities to see everyone and has a message for the players to compete for the starting position.
“It sounds cliche, but maximize the opportunity,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, all of their reps are limited and they have to make the most of it.”
As of now, there are two favorites for the quarterback position: last year’s backup Trenton Bourguet and Alabama transfer Paul Tyson.
If comfort is the factor that plays into deciding the next starter, Bourguet would get the nod. The redshirt junior quarterback saw action in three games during 2021, throwing for 91 yards with a touchdown as Daniels’ backup. In Thursday’s scrimmage, Bourguet led the offense on the initial plays.
“We’ve always respected and loved Trenton,” offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson said. “We always loved getting the lead and when he got a chance to step in.”
Following Bourget is Paul Tyson. Also a redshirt junior, Tyson was the backup to Bryce Young at Alabama last year. In five appearances, he completed 10 of 16 passes for 150 yards. In January, he transferred to ASU.
After Daniels transferred to LSU, Tyson is now looking to take over the starting job.
“We’re still building our chemistry with Paul since he just got here … Both of them are great leaders and commanders of the offense,” Henderson said.
Daylin McLemore was the third and final quarterback to call plays in the scrimmage. The redshirt sophomore has yet to take a snap in a collegiate game but has potential to rise up the depth chart. Bennett Meredith and Finn Collins are the other two who can make the most out of the limited action they get.
“They’ve all been very humble,” Thomas said. “Everybody needs to continue getting reps and experience and that in itself will lead to more efficient offensive play.”
Time is on the side of the Sun Devils with the first matchup of the season against Northern Arizona still five months away.
With low expectations also being placed on the squad navigating through the investigation and losing key players like Daniels, the players are doing everything they can to block out the noise and compete with the best teams in the nation.
“We’re one of the teams that everybody looks at and thinks we’re going to have an off-year,” tight end Jalin Conyers said. “I really think we’re going to shock a lot of people … I’m excited and a lot of us have that underdog mentality going into the season.”