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ASU Football: Week two of the Aguano-offense project, notes from practice leading up to UCLA

QB competition no more

Zac BonDurant

TEMPE - The game of the year for ASU football (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12) might finally be here, at least on paper.

The play calling debut for interim head coach Shaun Aguano was full of surprises in the 42-34 win over Colorado (1-7, 1-4 Pac-12) last Saturday. It’d be reasonable to think that in a home-underdog situation against No. 12 UCLA (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12), Aguano will dig deeper into his bag of tricks.

Minor personnel tweaks and tryouts on defense in preparation for DTR

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of the top-five most dangerous threats in the conference, so teams have to be just as create defensively in terms of what they throw at Thompson-Robinson.

Rotations at first-team defensive tackle, edge, and more recently at cornerback, have been common all year, and the depth players (Omar Norman-Lott, Ed Woods, T.J. Pesefea, B.J. Green, and more) all take meaningful snaps in games. This week, some new faces have emerged. Graduate defensive tackle B’Ahmad Miller has filled in with the ones. In the secondary, Southeastern Louisiana transfer Alphonso Taylor worked in with the backups alongside Willie Harts III. Isaiah Johnson found his way back in the starting lineup, for practice.

Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has his personnel groupings all over the place, not that it’s a bad thing. It is more likely an indication of the mixing-and-matching going on within the film room in an effort to thwart the DTR-Charbonnet combination.

“You really have to be prepared for are all the motions and change directions and misdirection plays,” Henderson said. “At the same time, the [run-pass options]. At the same time, he can throw the ball down the field. At the same time, he can get the quarterback on the perimeter. What he’s really doing to you is making sure you play 11-on-11 football.”

Snippets of perfection from Bourguet

In Tuesday’s media-viewing portion of practice, Bourguet was described as “perfect,” completing all of his passes. On Wednesday, he once again did not let the ball hit the ground, going 3-for-3 with two touchdowns.

“I’m kind of like that coach on the field,” Bourguet said Tuesday. “I’m trying to distribute the ball as (Aguano) would if he was playing the quarterback, (so) I’m trying to be on the same page as him. So whatever he is seeing and understanding, I can think the same thing and make sure we execute the offense the way he wants it to.”

During team periods, the coaches rate each play as a “win” or “loss” for the offense or defense based on which unit won the play. Whoever has the most “wins” at the end of the segment avoids wind sprints. The defense consistently has had the upper-hand all year during media viewings, but for what it’s worth, the offense was in control all week, led by Bourguet.

Giovanni Sanders and Case Hatch were the big winners in terms of receptions.

Injuries and other notes

  • Captain and left guard LaDarius Henderson is questionable for Saturday night’s game, according to Aguano. Henderson has missed the last two games with a finger injury.
  • Depending on where you look, UCLA is a top-ten team in the nation. The year’s initial College Football Playoff rankings have the Bruins at No. 12, while the AP Poll ranks them at No. 10. The last three opponents to come into Sun Devil Stadium ranked in the top-10 have all lost.
  • ASU extended its takeaway streak to 17 games, the second-longest streak in the FBS behind Georgia State.