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ASU Football: Spring Practice Report (3/6)

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Back in the groove

A noticeably bulked up Jayden Daniels
Katelyn MacCrory, Sun Devil Athletics

They were molded by the darkness.

If Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards watched Christoper Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, perhaps he took notes on Bane’s ascension to Gotham overlord and implemented them in his football program’s preparation. Regardless of the reason, Sun Devils worked on their game under the cover of night for the second straight outing.

Here are some quick notes from Day 3 of the spring football practice slate.

Jayden Daniels

Since the day he was handed the reins to the offense, ASU’s gunslinger has maintained impressive poise for someone given such an immense amount of responsibility at a young age. It is now his third year at the helm, and yet Daniels hasn’t lost an ounce of maturity and humbleness. You can see it in the way he calmly scans the field and methodically discusses plays with his coaches.

Daniels said Monday that it is “very accurate” that he has upped his playing weight from 175 to around 190 pounds since his freshman year. Edwards said that he expects Daniels to reach the 200-pound mark by the summer. No matter the end goal, the results are visible.

Health hasn’t been an issue for Daniels aside from the knee injury that kept him out of ASU’s home game versus USC his first year. However, the added bulk should bring increased strength and durability to his game.

Mechanics-wise, Daniels looked solid. During group sessions with his receivers, he worked on improving chemistry and timing with his receivers on a variety of short and intermediate routes. The young wideout corps, which proved inconsistent early in 2020 but gained confidence over ASU’s last two games, is improving.

The highlight of the night came from LV Bunkley-Shelton, who tracked down a Daniels-thrown ball with a twirling one-handed catch, which garnered much applause from the animated sideline.

New OL coach right at home

With a combined 35 years of experience coaching at the collegiate and professional level, Mike Cavanaugh knows how to whip an offensive line into shape. Cavanaugh started by having his group work through some mobility drills before analyzing one-on-one reps with a keen eye. If he saw something he didn’t like, adjustments were made and the rep was repeated.

Later, the tight ends joined the offensive linemen after a short passing exercise. Cavanaugh and tight ends coach Adam Breneman had the two groups practice a combo block with a switch-off.

Defensive backs stay dominant

The Sun Devil secondary is one of the most experienced in the Pac-12. Seniors litter the top of the depth chart. Cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Jack Jones hawk the outside boundaries while Evan Fields and graduate student DeAndre Pierce roam the back half.

This practice, they made things difficult for the offense. During iso work against the receivers, numerous balls were batted away. The receivers didn’t escape error either and their frustration only encouraged trash talk from the defensive backs. After a bad drop over the middle ended the session, Lucas could be heard yelling “Get mad again!”

During 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, the result was similar. The secondary stayed tight on their assignments and the competitive banter continued. Although the view from the designated media area limited observations of this period of the practice, one could infer from the hollering on the defensive side of the field that they held the upper hand for most of it.

The next ASU spring practice will take place on Monday, March 8.