After the announcement of its newest starting quarterback, ASU was back to work on Tuesday evening at the Kajikawa practice fields. Here’s our report and observations:
Next Practice: Wednesday, August 14
Last practice: Monday, August 12
NFL Scouts in attendance: Green Bay Packers
Players who were out of practice on Tuesday included redshirt junior quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole (shoulder), redshirt freshman wide receiver Geordon Porter (hamstring), freshman defensive lineman Stephon Wright (conditioning), redshirt senior running back Paul Lucas (unkown) and sophomore defensive lineman Jermayne Lole (conditioning).
Zach Robertson is still out due to personal reasons. Mark Walton and Kyle Soelle were not in attendance as well (unkown). Additionally, junior Curtis Hodges, who participated in workouts over the last week, did not practice. He went into the bubble and had a knee brace on his right leg. John Humphrey returned from his hamstring injury on Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Stanley Lambert and freshman Ethan Long were also in non-contact jerseys.
What Went On
Throughout fall camp, freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels has been nothing but steady. However, after being announced as the Sun Devils starting signal-caller yesterday, he had a few blemishes on Tuesday.
Daniels threw two interceptions during 11-on-11’s, with one pick coming from redshirt sophomore cornerback Timarcus Davis, and the other from sophomore linebacker Merlin Robertson.
The first miscue came on a pass to the outside. The throw was intended for freshman wideout Jordan Kerley, and Davis jumped the throw on a ball that was thrown more toward the inside shoulder of Kerley’s body.
On the second pick, Daniels threw a nice ball, but it was just a second too late. That’s all Robertson needed. Instead of hitting freshman tight end Nolan Matthews in stride over the middle of the field, Robertson made a great read and timed the throw. He snagged it right before it could hit Matthews streaking over the middle.
Although the turnovers are certainly something that ASU wants to avoid, there was no panic from head coach Herm Edwards. He liked Daniels’ demeanor, even with the mistakes, he saw it as something to learn from. He described how Daniels embraces the stress of one of the biggest positions on the field, too.
“When he makes an error, he knows it right away. He can almost feel like he made bad throw and he will go, ‘I was late,’” said Edwards of Daniels. “He can correct himself, and he’s not one of those guys that’s sensitive to criticism. I think if you play quarterback, it’s like being a head coach. You can’t be sensitive to criticism. That’s the last thing you got to worry about.”
The bottom line: Yes, the interceptions weren’t good. But, Daniels is human.
Credit also goes to the defense, as they exemplified one of the driving aspects of what defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales wants from his guys: interceptions and turnovers. Gonzales has reiterated that he wants 20 picks this year.
“We want to be a defense that takes the ball away and give our offense more opportunities, and give them short fields,” Edwards said. “We got young quarterbacks and we got to give them help. They can’t do it all by themselves.”
Among other notable sequences, the team ended the last session of practice working with a two-minute offense. With the second team, freshman quarterback Joey Yellen orchestrated a successful drive down the field that culminated with a three-yard touchdown pass from inside the five-yard line that he fit into a tight window to Matthews.
Earlier in 11-on-11’s, Yellen also dropped an accurate pass into the hands of redshirt junior Isaiah Floyd on a wheel route down the sideline.
Practice closed with a near 40-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore kicker Christian Zendejas while the defensive sideline was in his ear. Edwards even called a timeout on the kick, simulating the all important end of the game, last second kicking scenarios.
“We did a pretty good job last year of dealing with those things,” said Edwards of his team’s late-game, two-minute drills. “The last period had something to do with that as far as trying to score in two minutes and making some decisions. It was when you clock it, when you don’t clock it, and how you use timeouts. I think the players are well aware of what to do, and I tried to the ice the kicker a little bit. He still made it, which is good. It’s a lot of fun when you have those periods.”
Along with practice and still developing young talent, Edwards also noted that the staff is starting to gear up for Kent State. Just a reminder: Only 16 days until kickoff.
“These young guys, they come to practice and they have enthusiasm...They are having fun. It’s fun to watch them and the more they grow and the more confident they become, the better they become,” Edwards said. “There’s this transformation of we got to get the young guys caught up, but then we also got an opponent coming up pretty soon. We are kind of doing both.”
First Team Offense
QB: Jayden Daniels
RB: Eno Benjamin
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Ricky Pearsall (rotated in with first team), Kyle Williams, Frank Darby
TE: Tommy Hudson
OL: Cohl Cabral (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Cade Cote (C), Roy Hemsley (RG), Steven Miller (RT)
First Team Defense
DL: George Lea, DJ Davidson/Shannon Forman, Roe Wilkins
LB: Khaylan Kearse-Thomas/Tyler Johnson, Merlin Robertson, Darien Butler
CB: Chase Lucas, Kobe Williams
Tillman: Evan Fields
S: Cam Phillips, Aashari Crosswell
Second Team Offense
QB: Joey Yellen
RB: AJ Carter, Isaiah Floyd
WR: Tannor Park, Keith Davis
TE: Jared Bubak/Nolan Matthews (also saw first team reps)
OL: LaDarius Henderson (LT), Cody Shear (LG), Dohnovan West (C), Jarrett Bell (RG), Spencer Lovell/Ralph Frias (RT)
Second Team Defense
DL: Michael Matus, TJ Pesefea/Corey Stephens, Anthonie Cooper
LB: Elijah Juarez, Case Hatch, Ely Doyle
CB: Jordan Clark, Timarcus Davis
Tillman: Tyler Whiley
S: Alijah Gammage/Kejuan Markham, Willie Harts
Note: Ethan Long also took reps at wide receiver and quarterback with the second team.