Herm Edwards’s message at the beginning of practice could resonate with anybody on the team.
“Open the door when opportunity knocks,” Edwards said.
Whether it is a player fighting for snaps or to boost their draft profile, there are many opportunities available on this ever-changing team. Friday’s practice was the second in full pads, and showed us more competition down the depth chart as the tempo speeds up at Bill Kajikawa Practice Fields.
Touches on offense may work their way inside-out as the season goes on.
All the coaches said at media day that the offense will look run-heavy early in the season, and the talent at running back with Wyoming transfer X Valladay and third-year back Daniyel Ngata could be at the top of the Pac-12. This is no surprise, but the tight end group is also getting better every day.
Messiah Swinson is becoming more sure-handed with every practice. Jalin Conyers is becoming a top-target as the receivers rotate with the first-team. If these two can stay on the field at the same time, it should be the best tight end combination in the Herm Edwards era.
“Hats off to (Swinson and Conyers),” offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas said. “They’re really doing a good job, and really being conscientious of the details. And I think they’re flourishing on that role as far as being an impact in what we’re trying to get done.”
Even Case Hatch got involved in the passing game, as promised, for a touchdown.
Easy pitch and catch for Emory Jones to Case Hatch inside the opposing 10 yard-line for a score during team drills.— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 12, 2022
Hatch is yet to score a touchdown at ASU. That could change this year.
The receivers will likely progress and develop chemistry with the quarterback as more games are played, but for now, the backs and tight ends are the heartbeat.
Shifting scenes in the defensive backfield
Fifth-year cornerback Timarcus Davis worked as a starting corner last week before missing the last few practices with a sore knee. In his absence, Ro Torrence and Macen Williams have taken the majority of first-team snaps. Torrence brings a 6-foot-4 frame while Williams is frequently cited by teammates as one of the fastest players in the program. Keon Markham took some reps with the ones as well.
When the team shifted to a nickel look, D.J. Taylor and Jordan Clark rotated as the nickel back. Clark routinely reps as the extra defensive back, but Taylor took the first snaps with the group Friday.
“It’s better if you can play in all types of spots,” Taylor said. “I was a corner when I first came in, a running back when I came in, then I switched, I came back and I played safety. I got down safety, so I started playing nickel now.”
At safety, Kejuan Markham and Khourey Bethley led the way. In the past, we have seen Chris Edmonds in one of these spots, but he worked with the second-team Friday.
With over 20 defensive backs on the roster, the rotations are switching almost every practice, so a one-day snapshot is next-to-meaningless. Expect a large chunk of these players to get meaningful snaps against NAU.
Offensive line becoming more solidified
The first-team group is fairly identical each practice, with Emmit Bohle, LaDarius Henderson, Ben Scott, Chris Martinez and Des Holmes, from left to right. Bohle and Isaia Glass have been in a competition since Bohle’s arrival, and Glass also worked in with the ones for a few segments Friday.
Could this signal the closest competition on the line? Possibly, and we could get a definitive answer next week.
“Now it’s a matter of settling it down figuring out what we have, where we need each guy in each spot, the rotation,” Thomas said. “As we start kind of taking a step back and saying, ‘Okay, who are the starters, and then who are the backups and what position they play? What is that rotation?’ Those are the conversations we’ll start having the next few days, as we kind of start getting into that mock-week.”
I also regretfully failed to mention Ben Scott in House of Sparky’s week two recap video. Sorry Ben, I’ll stick to the blog.
- The place-kicking game continues to improve, at least from short and mid-range distances. Carter Brown and Jace Feely each made their first three kicks before each missed their last two from long-distance. For the math illiterate like myself, that is 3-for-5 for both.
- Des Holmes took control of the offensive line unit after a shaky 11-on-11 period. The Penn State transfer could play a leadership role early in his Sun Devil career.
After a shaky 11-on-11 segment from the offensive line with a false start and a missed assignment, tackle Des Holmes took control of the group with a passionate speech.— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 12, 2022
The Penn State transfer showing leadership qualities while gunning for the RT spot.
- Defensive lineman Robby Harrison is constantly praised by teammates and coaches for his strength, and that looks to be translating into team-drills in practice. Harrison, like his freshman counterpart Blazen Lono-Wong, finds him self in the backfield frequently.
The team heads to Camp Tontozona for a one-day retreat Saturday. They will return to practice in Tempe on Monday.