ASU notebook: Offense adding new wrinkles, defense ‘pretty much set’
TEMPE — Things are starting to come together on both sides of the ball for the Arizona State football team ahead of its Week 1 opener against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Sept. 1 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Practice on Monday featured a longer session that included around 90 plays, which was done intentionally by head coach Herm Edwards.
“Things are starting to come along. It’s always interesting when you start adding things to your offense,” Edwards after practice. “Our defense is pretty much set but the offense is the one when you start adding some things.”
Some of the growing pains for ASU’s offense early on in fall camp is who exactly will step up to be the team’s starting wide receivers, with the likes of Andre Johnson, Bryan Thompson, Giovanni Sanders, Chad Johnson Jr., Elijhah Badger, Charles Hall IV and Vanderbilt transfer Cam Johnson all in the mix.
Monday’s practice saw numerous drops, however, which prompted the head coach to joke about his squad’s lack of catching prowess on the day.
“We had a lot of dropped footballs today. It looked like me trying to catch the ball out there,” Edwards said. “Now I shouldn’t say that, I could catch the ball actually so I’m not gonna put that on me. We gotta catch it and I think a lot of it has to do with tight coverage.
“The quarterback is trying to fit in there and we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been a good cover team. They got to realize — some of these guys that haven’t been here in the past — that you’re gonna get tight coverage and you’re gonna have to make those catches. But we had way too many drops and we gotta clean that up.”
Edwards added that he likes what he’s seeing in the run game, with Wyoming transfer Xazavian Valladay and returning redshirt sophomore Daniyel Ngata looking like this year’s one-two punch in the backfield.
And with the defense — which was No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 13 in the country last season — “pretty much set,” the focus is now not so much who will be playing, but how will guys be rotated in and out.
Edwards said up to eight different players could feature on the defensive line this year, which could include returnees Travez Moore, Michael Matus and Omarr Norman-Lott, as well as Miami transfer Nesta Jade Silvera.
“By the end of this week, we should have a pretty good idea of the guys (starters) on both sides of the ball,” the head coach said. “That’s going to be interesting to watch how that develops. We have a lot of competition at a lot of positions, so that’s always fun.”
– True freshman tight end Jacob Newell suffered an ankle injury and will undergo X-rays.
– Redshirt fifth-year senior defensive back Timarcus Davis was rested due to a “sore knee.”
– Missouri transfer tight end Messiah Swinson was wearing a green no-contact jersey due to soreness.