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ASU Football: Camp notes from practice 8/10

An injection of energy on the first day in full pads

Zac BonDurant

For maybe the first time this fall, and mostly in the passing game, the ASU offense took a metaphorical victory over the defense in practice. The other side of the ball produced some significant individual performances too, and the general feel around Wednesday’s practice was positive.

A blast of playmaking production from offensive skill players

From the beginning moments of 11-on-11s it was clear the offense was in a groove. Emory Jones executed a quarterback run that would have been a massive gain even if the defense was allowed to hit him. To cap off the short segment, Jones found Jalin Conyers up the seam for a potential huge play.

“When Emory (Jones) got here, we got on the field pretty quickly, just starting to get a feel with each other,” Conyers said. “It’s fun, I enjoy it. He likes looking at the tight end.”

Jones carried that momentum into red-zone seven-on-sevens and more team drills later for his best day of camp. He threw no interceptions Wednesday.

On the receiver side, Elijah Badger, Bryan Thompson and Giovanni Sanders are the most frequent first-team rotation, but we had not seen many “wow” plays from them at the start of camp. That changed Wednesday.

Elijah Badger hauled in multiple notable contested catches in one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens, while Giovanni Sanders produced the play of the day with a toe-tap touchdown from Emory Jones that lit up the offensive sideline.

There were a plethora of those “wow” plays Wednesday that were worth noting. Charles Hall IV consistently left defensive backs in the dust in one-on-ones. Messiah Swinson “Moss’d” Hawai’i transfer Khoury Bethley (who was in a good position). Cam Johnson fought off Caleb McCullough and Kejuan Markham in the air for a short-yardage touchdown from Paul Tyson.

There were just too many to count.

Standouts up-and-down the depth chart on defense

If you feel like you aren’t hearing too much about the second-and-third-level defenders in practice reports, it is because the front line is doing so much damage and putting out the fires itself.

“I think we have more potential players and more potential playmakers in the group overall than any time before,” defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez said. “I think we have eight guys right now, no doubt. We have other guys that are progressing quickly to get in a position where we’re going to be good no matter what.”

I am not sure if Blazen Lono-Wong fits into that group-of-eight, but he is doing everything he can in practice to knock on the door. Lono-Wong first opened eyes with his tipped-catch interception of Paul Tyson on day one that riled up his teammates. On Wednesday, he collected two pressures and a sack in the span of minutes.

“Blazen has more big plays than he has words that he’s spoken in a meeting, like he is such a quiet kid and there’s no problems,” Rodriguez said. “I’ll never ever sit here and say Blazen don’t got a shot. They all got a shot. If they’re on the field, they’re the Sun Devil line. They better shine so that’s the way it rolls.”

Junior defensive lineman Dylan Hall also found his way into the backfield a couple times. Hall, who is a transfer who previously played at Boise State and Antelope Valley Community College, told us at media day that his biggest goal is to step in-between the lines during a division-one game, something he has not been able to do in his entire student-athlete career.

Freshman linebacker Dylan DeVito showed flashes of sideline-to-sideline speed and pursuit.

In terms of players who may see more snaps, defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera and cornerback Ro Torrence are two transfers who look like they will have an immediate impact, consistently earning props and taking advantage of the spotlight.

Special teams resurgence and notes

After a dreary 3-for-8 showing in field goal attempts Monday, the unit bounced back with a nice 6-for-9 showing Wednesday. Jace Feely stood out with two makes.

Few were surprised when punter Eddie Czaplicki found success on the punt team last year post-transfer of Michael Turk. In practice, Czaplicki does not look like he has missed a beat, rarely duffing a punt and finding consistent flight paths. Punter U remains.

Many skill players take kick returning reps, but it looks like D.J. Taylor will be the starting kick returner, with George Hart III as his lead-blocker. Daniyel Ngata and Charles Hall IV filed in behind Taylor.

Extra, Extra!

  • Sophomore tight end Ryan Morgan took a few snaps at fullback in the same set where fullback Case Hatch was in an H-Back role. Tight ends coach Juston Wood and Hatch himself have mentioned that they put an emphasis this offseason on Hatch’s general well-roundedness and pass-catching.
  • Running backs coach Shaun Aguano named Xazavian Valladay and Daniyel Ngata the starting running backs, but he said there is competition for the third and fourth spots. That was the only depth chart question answered Wednesday, but it is possible we hear more news before or after the Camp Tontozona retreat Saturday. There is one more practice open to the media Friday before the team leaves, but if we do not hear anything, answers will have to wait until Monday.