Arizona State football mulling decimated OL, QB controversy ahead of Fresno State
Sep 11, 2023, 2:21 PM | Updated: 2:33 pm
(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)
TEMPE — Arizona State football fought an uphill fight against Oklahoma State on Saturday when starting right tackle Emmit Bohle went down with a season-ending broken leg.
The injury left the Sun Devils without either of their starting offensive tackles for true freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada in his second career game.
The offensive line held up for a majority of the first half against a formidable Cowboys defense, but ASU struggled to put together successful second half drives to keep its defense off the field. ASU scored zero second half points and was seeing constant pressure off the right side of the line.
“That position has been decimated with injuries, unfortunately,” head coach Kenny Dillingham said Monday.
“… That is obviously a challenge but we have to find ways to adapt and change offensively to put our guys in the best situation to succeed again. It may be a little different offense than I have done in the past, just to utilize our players to the best of their ability.”
Oklahoma State forced three sacks and eight tackles for loss. Rashada finished the game 16-of-29 for 167 yards, one touchdown (65-yard touchdown pass) and one interception.
The offensive production fell off in the second half for the second straight game after scoring just three points against Southern Utah in the final two quarters of Week 1.
Although Rashada did not look comfortable for a majority of the half against OSU, the Sun Devils could not keep clean pockets to allow routes to develop and did not pick up crucial plays to sustain drives.
But maybe the biggest part of the failing passing game was ASU’s inability to run the ball. Dillingham mentioned that the team’s run game inhibited the ability to run a vertical passing game because they were playing into Oklahoma State’s hands.
When things were trending south with a freshman at quarterback early in the season, there are questions of how to balance future growth of the program with Rashada at QB vs. playing an experienced player in Drew Pyne to try and win now.
Pyne transferred from Notre Dame in the offseason and looked to be in serious contention to start under center against SUU in Week 1 before injuring his hamstring at Camp T.
“Drew (Pyne) should be good for this week, not 100% right now, but he should be healthy this week. From that standpoint we need to see what the game plan is and go from there,” Dillingham said.
“The growth (Rashada) has made in two games is incredible, absolutely incredible. I could not be more pleased with the way he has played. We have to able to adapt at these other positions, but I have been so pleased with how Jaden has played. No doubt his future is extremely, extremely bright.”
The head coach mentioned Rashada’s ability to step up into pressure, completion percentage and only one turnover through two games as extreme positives for such a young player trying to lead a college offense for the first time.
When Rashada was named the signal caller for Week 1, Dillingham said he was the starter for Week 1 and the team would reevaluate after that. Now that Pyne is reaching full strength, the direction of Arizona State football is heading may get much more of a clear picture this Saturday.
In 2022 at Notre Dame, Pyne threw for 2,021 passing yards on 164-for-254 attempts (64.6%) for 22 touchdowns and six interceptions over 11 games.
His veteran prowess was shown throughout fall camp and now leaves Dillingham with a program-defining decision at the helm.
Both Dillingham and Rashada were handed their first collegiate losses at their respective positions, but the head coach said there was much to learn from in the defeat.
The message following Saturday was that the game was a lesson rather than a loss because the young team had so much they could take away from the contest.
After watching the film, Dillingham not only pointed out the mistakes the team made, but the coaching staff as well.
Dillingham mentioned a scenario on third down that he thought he recognized a hot route that should’ve been called.
The head coach started screaming into his microphone for a bubble screen. The only problem, he was screaming the wrong hot key into the mic, Rashada threw the bubble and the team ultimately did not convert the third down.
He said he recognizes as the head coach that he has the final say, but needs to step back to allow his coaches and players to do the job he is asking of them.
ASU will take on Fresno State in its last non-conference game of the season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.