Arizona State football’s Kenny Dillingham confident in QB Jaden Rashada moving forward

Nov 25, 2023, 7:54 PM | Updated: 10:01 pm

Arizona State football did not get many in-game reps from its highly-regarded quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada in Year 1, but head coach Kenny Dillingham said he has confidence in the signal caller moving forward.

The true freshman played in three games including Saturday’s season finale loss to No. 16 Arizona, 59-23. He took the field in Week 2 against Oklahoma State and then not again until the Territorial Cup due to injury.

It wasn’t a smooth ride for Rashada on Saturday, who sat out the first drive because he was late to a team meeting. Dillingham said he was not going to back off his standard in this situation. Backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet was sick and could not go, so Dillingham and the staff shifted to running the Wildcat to start the game. ASU worked Rashada in, still running a healthy amount of Wildcat snaps even after the opening possession.

Rashada gave an up-and-down performance, completing only 10-of-22 passes for 82 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also picked up 18 yards on the ground and hit Troy Omeire for a diving touchdown catch in the fourth quarter after the game was long out of reach.

“He did okay, it’s hard to not play nine games and just coming in and playing the biggest rivalry game of your life,” tight end Jalin Conyers said. “Props to him for preparing all week and doing a good job. It’s hard, it’d be hard for any quarterback, especially a true freshman to go do that after not playing in nine games.

“He obviously made some really good throws, you see what he’s gonna be able to do in the future. … He did a good job keeping his composure and stuff … he did a good job handling that adversity and doing what he can.”

It didn’t help that ASU’s leading receiver Elijhah Badger was sidelined due to injury.

The lack of reps was evident to Dillingham watching the game, and afterward he expressed his frustration regarding the number of injuries his team endured that halted its ability to improve. He felt the squad got worse in the second half of the year due to the lack of availability.

The head coach said Rashada’s pocket movement was better than his high school tape showed and he operated the offense “fairly well” without procedural penalties. He also looked the part of a freshman in his third game.

“Being able to recognize ‘Oh, the safety is down’ or ‘The nickel is attaching to the crosser,’ or ‘Oh, it’s man, locate the post safety. He’s down.’ Those things you can only get through practice and reps. I was happy with him, I mean, I’m happy with the direction he’s gone. He’s a Sun Devil. He’s passionate about this place and I have a lot of confidence in him moving forward.”

Rashada requested a release from his national letter of intent from Florida and picked ASU as a consensus four-star prospect among the major recruiting services. His father, Harlen Rashada, played at ASU from 1992-94.

He maintained his redshirt status by missing nine games.

Rashada went 1-2 in his games played, while the Sun Devils finished 3-9 with Pac-12 wins over Washington State and UCLA.

The next steps for Dillingham involve exit meetings, fundraising and recruiting with an emphasis on the fundraising element to build a sustainable model in the new college football ecosystem.

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