ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Trenton Bourguet proves worthy of ASU’s QB1 in homecoming, Territorial Cup loss to Arizona

Nov 25, 2022, 8:30 PM | Updated: 9:24 pm

TUCSON — At the start of the college football season, nobody could have predicted the circumstances surrounding the Arizona State Sun Devils’ final offensive drive of 2022.

Trailing the Arizona Wildcats 38-35 with 1:30 left near midfield, quarterback Trenton Bourguet’s arm was hit as he threw the ball for what ended up being the game-clinching interception for the 96th edition of the Territorial Cup.

The loss snaps Arizona State’s five-game winning streak against its in-state rival (5-7, 3-6 in Pac-12), marking the first loss in the Duel in the Desert since 2016.

ASU finished the year with a 3-9 record (2-7 in conference), the most losses in a single season in school history and the second time since World War II that the Sun Devils won three games or fewer (1994 was the other).

And despite not being the starting quarterback for the first half of the season, quarterback Trenton Bourguet came off the bench to lead Arizona State to two of those three wins.

In fact, the walk-on beat out Alabama transfer Paul Tyson — the great-grandson of Paul “Bear” Bryant — for the backup job before eventually taking over starting duties from a struggling Emory Jones, who also transferred from Florida during the summer after not participating in ASU’s spring ball.

Coming back to the Territorial Cup matchup at Arizona Stadium on Friday, you would’ve guessed Bourguet was a sixth-year senior with an abundance of experience — not a redshirt junior making just his fifth-ever start at the college level.

That’s because the QB tossed for 376 yards on 37 of 49 passing (76%) with three touchdowns. He also added 14 rushing yards on eight carries. Unfortunately, two interceptions and a strip sack fumble were his few blemishes on the day.

Bourguet spread the ball out to nine different pass catchers, with the likes of tight end Jalin Conyers and wide receivers Gio Sanders and Elijhah Badger being his favorite targets.

The trio combined for three touchdowns on 26 receptions and 288 yards, with Conyers leading the way with a game-high 10 grabs for 76, while the two receivers each reeled in eight catches. Sanders led all pass catchers with 120 yards, while Badger was second with 92.

And with Bourguet having graduated from Marana High School, the Tucson native was the quintessential player for interim head coach Shaun Aguano, who made it known from Day 1 when he took over for Herm Edwards that ASU could win with Arizona natives.

In fact, Bourguet had his own fan section in the middle of the Zona Zoo, with over a dozen gold shirts with “TB16” written on them popping out in a sea of red.

“Growing up, I didn’t miss a (Wildcats) home game from the time I was born to the time I was 14,” Bourguet said postgame. “This tunnel where we run out of, I was in that first row, I was booing the guys, I was booing (Mike) Bercovici when he’d run out and now I’m that guy running out.

“So it’s crazy how it all worked out but I wouldn’t change anything for the world, to walk on at Arizona State, to have another former walk-on (Sanders) make big plays today over and over, it just proves everybody out there in the state of Arizona, outside the world, you may be overlooked but control what you can and good things can happen.”

And while the results may not have gone the way ASU would have wanted, a couple of big question marks have been answered.

Neither Bourguet nor Aguano was able to confirm their future with the Arizona State football program — and that’s for two very different reasons.

The interim head coach was extremely emotional postgame about his time at the helm of the Sun Devils, which inferred that he would not be returning as the head coach full-time.

However, I believe Aguano at the very least has proven he is worthy of a role on the coaching staff that oversees either the running backs, in-state recruiting or both.

“I’m a pretty smart guy in regards to you know, we didn’t get the job done and it’s a win business,” Aguano said. “I get it and I’m so good because I took care of those kids. I always will be a Sun Devil. This is one of the greatest things that has happened in my life and my family’s life and we made a difference.

“We didn’t get it done. So there’s gonna be a lot of disappointed people in me from not bringing back that Territorial Cup and I’ll take that and I’m good with it. But I love those kids in that room, so I’m good.”

“The higher-ups are gonna make that decision. The new coach that comes in is going to make that decision,” Aguano added. “Here’s what I know about Shaun Aguano: I’m never an ego guy and I want Sun Devil nation to win and be successful. So if that includes me, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that we win football games.

“But I’m not an ego guy. I can be the waterboy on the side if they pay me enough for it. But whatever I can do in order to make Sun Devil nation be prominent like they should be and deserve to be. I’ll do whatever it is,” he added. “But you know that might not happen. There might be opportunities other places. I’m just a ball coach that loves kids and I want to develop kids and so wherever I land I know I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability.”

And as for Bourguet, he should be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023 regardless of who the next head coach may be. Or at a minimum, any transfer should have to win the job after how well he handled all the adversity, turmoil and turbulence the Arizona State football program endured this season.

EXTRA POINTS

– ASU backup RB Daniyel Ngata was not dressed out and did not play in the game.

– Starting LG LaDarius Henderson also missed his sixth consecutive game due to a finger injury.

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