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ASU Football: Notes and takeaways from coaches’ media day.

An afternoon with the coaching staff

Zac BonDurant

It is officially fall camp week for ASU football, and the second of three media days answered a few questions and offered some new insights into the program before the team’s first practice on Wednesday.

Herm Edwards, coordinators Glenn Thomas and Donnie Henderson, analyst Marvin Lewis and all position coaches spoke to the media Monday. Below are House of Sparky’s main takeaways and other news from the afternoon session.

Quarterback is still TBD, but one name dominated the conversation

Nobody in the press conferences inquired about Paul Tyson or Trenton Bourguet, but when prompted about Emory Jones, both coaches had nothing but positive things to say. Edwards said they could not announce a starting quarterback, but knowing “sooner is better.”

Thomas said that Jones is “super proactive” in the facility when it comes to the playbook and acclimating himself to the program. Jones, who joined the program after spring practice, has the most FBS experience (224-for-346, 2,734 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions at Florida) in the quarterback room.

Contrary to some reports in the spring, the run-game will take a priority, at least early-on.

And why wouldn’t it? Xazavian Valladay, who goes by “X”, is on the Doak Walker Award Watchlist. Daniyel Ngata, a former four-star recruit, will continue to get more snaps in his third year. The coaches like four-star freshman Tevin White and George Hart III, who was put on scholarship over the summer.

“Run-game and defense travel well,” Edwards said.

There are still quarterback questions to be answered, and Thomas and Edwards both said that scheme relates to personnel, so it’s safe to assume the running-game will evolve quicker than the passing attack.

“It all starts in the run game,” Thomas said.

Donnie Henderson brings the energy on the field, and in press conferences.

Henderson’s last 12 months were a whirlwind. Early last August, he was still a consultant for Edwards before being thrusted into the interim defensive backs coaching role when Chris Hawkins was placed on leave. In February, Antonio Pierce resigned and Henderson was promoted to defensive coordinator shortly after.

Through all the change, Henderson was pleasant-as-ever in his 20-minute session with the media, cracking jokes that seemed to always follow with a remark along the lines of “I shouldn’t have said that.”

He emphasized “keeping continuity” in the ASU defensive scheme through the transition, so he says he did not install a lot in the spring and summer on top of last year’s playbook. Though he did admit he may be more aggressive than last year’s team, who was not known for its blitz stunts.

Edwards also joked that Henderson has a tendency to go off-script and get blitz-happy when facing an early deficit in games, to which Henderson laughed and responded how that dates back to their days together with the New York Jets.

During camp, and through the first couple of games, Henderson says he looks for “attitude and effort” above all else. As of now, he has “no idea’ what the unit’s identity will be.

It sounded like it may have been a slip, but Henderson also referred to both Kyle and Connor Soelle as “starters” when referring to the brothers, which is significant as the third linebacker spot was vacated by former starter Eric Gentry when he transferred to USC. Connor Soelle and sophomore Caleb McCullough took first-team reps in the spring.

Extra, Extra!

  • According to Cavanaugh, Sophomore Isaia Glass and senior Emmit Bohle will fight for the left tackle spot. LaDarius Henderson and Ben Scott are solidified at left guard and center, respectively. Chris Martinez, Thomas La Boucher, Des Holmes and Joey Ramos will fight for the right guard and right tackle spots. La Boucher can play tackle and guard, Ramos can play center and tackle.
  • Receivers coach Bobby Wade said the team added two more scholarship receivers over the summer, senior Charles Hall IV from Virginia Union University and junior Zeek Freeman from Kilgore College.
  • Edwards said he does not feel like the NCAA investigation impacted last year’s team. Also Edwards on NIL, the transfer portal, and realignment: “All those things, the great part about it, I don’t have to make a decision on any of it. I stay in my lane...The powers (that) be will figure out a way.”
  • Henderson says the main difference between the players he coached at ASU in the 90s and the players now is that in the past, “they wanted to win,” as opposed to other motivating factors in today’s student-athlete climate. He also recommended to the media and everyone watching that they “gotta cut back” on cell phone usage. “They know where you’re at,” he said.

I assume “they” is the government. While it was a joke, it was a little ounce of irony for a coach who works for a program under an NCAA investigation.

  • During his stint with the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League, tight ends coach Juston Wood was a stunt double in the 2005 version of The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler. Wood said Sandler gave him words of encouragement on set a day after the two struck up a conversation about Wood’s career. He was a double for William Fichtner, who played quarterback Brian Knauer for the “Guards.” Wood says if you see a frame of Knauer throwing a football, it is him.
  • Defensive analyst Marvin Lewis had many kind words and short stories about the late Tony Siragusa, whom Lewis coached in Baltimore.

“Everything anybody has ever seen about Goose, it’s all true as far as the jovial, light-hearted side of Tony. (He) was awesome.”

Make sure to follow @HouseofSparky on Youtube for full video press conferences and clips. The third and final media day will include a large selection of newcomers, freshman and transfers, to the program. The first practice is scheduled for 8:30 am Wednesday.