Arizona State football spring game a mixed bag

Apr 27, 2024, 8:46 AM

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The video board at Mountain America Stadium showing the rundown for ASU's spring game, which felt more like a glorified practice. (Photo: Jesse Morison/ Arizona Sports)

(Photo: Jesse Morison/ Arizona Sports)

TEMPE – It was a cool, windy night at Mountain America Stadium on Friday as Arizona State football held its annual spring game.

Despite the Phoenix Suns playing a playoff game Friday in Phoenix, Sun Devil athletics hosting baseball and softball games and the Savannah Bananas playing in Mesa, a decent turnout still showed up to the event.

“I thought it was a good turnout,” said ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham. “I thought it was a good vibe out here.  … I think there’s more people here this year than last year which shows the belief in the process.”

The spring game, which was more like a formal practice, consisted of different individual and team drills.

The Sun Devils did spend much of the practice in game-like 11-on-11 drills. Team Gold, led by presumed starting quarterback Sam Leavitt, was more impressive than Team Maroon.

While Leavitt missed some deep throws – again, it was windy – and threw an interception, he showed that arm strength is one of his positives. His bomb to wide receiver Jordan Tyson almost went for a touchdown and was the passing highlight of the event.

Leavitt also showed his athleticism as he had a touchdown run on Team Gold’s second offensive possession.

Dillingham talked about Leavitt’s spring as a whole.

“I couldn’t be more happy with his progression,” Dillingham said. “He completed over 70% of his balls in team periods this spring, which is, I don’t know my history. We tracked (offensive coordinator Marcus) Arroyo’s history and that was the best, or one of the best, he’s had in his career at quarterback so kudos to him and we’re going to keep getting better.”

The quarterback was not the only player who excelled on the ground. Running back Cam Skattebo had the run of the night, breaking a tackle to score a touchdown for the first touchdown of 11-on-11.

Defensively, the physical play of the gold unit was noticeable. A play late in the proceedings when Myles Rowser made a stop on the goal line and forced a fumble stood out among plays made by the group.

An interesting storyline to potentially watch heading into fall camp is what happens at backup quarterback. Trenton Bourguet, who has seen a lot of action the past two seasons as both a starter and in relief, did not jump off the page as much as walk-on true freshman Navi Bruzon.

Bruzon, who led Liberty High School in Peoria to the Arizona Open Division state title in 2023 at Mountain America Stadium, was the more-electrifying quarterback between him and Bourguet on Friday.

Bourguet looked like what he has looked like the past couple of years, which is pedestrian. His best plays in the spring game were short passes over the middle. He missed a target on a quick pass to the outside, throwing the ball low. The maroon offense stalled with him at quarterback.

Bruzon, on the other hand, showed off his athleticism when he rolled out to his left, went through his reads well and accurately completed a pass for a touchdown late in the final 11-on-11 period.

“I guess this is just his home field,” Dillingham said. “Navi hits this field and he turns into the Navinator. He’s the definition of activate the Valley, who really had as much success in high school football here as possible. Maybe he didn’t have the opportunities to go elsewhere but he’s been unbelievable for us. And testament to his coach in high school, testament to that staff for coaching him hard and getting him mentally to the point where he can execute as a true freshman in college in a spring game.”

Arizona State’s offensive line could be a problem again this season. The group was called for multiple penalties in Friday’s spring game and could have done a better job in pass protection.

As for what Dillingham thinks he did better this spring than last spring, he discussed how he improved at connecting with players.

“I think we monitored player loads,” Dillingham said. “I think we structured it to where the guys were going to get more work. To me, I met more with the team. Last spring, I would only meet every other day, every off day. Today, everything started with a team meeting. Because I want those guys to feel my energy every single day that I’m going to bring it every day.”

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Arizona State football spring game a mixed bag