A tumultuous offseason is days away from being in the rearview mirror. Everything just seems a little quieter as the Northern Arizona matchup takes priority for both players and fans, but it’s football. There are nerves.
“Anxiety is always good,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “I wake up with it every morning.”
"Anxiety in your belly keeps you alive." - Edwards on early-season jitters.— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 29, 2022
Defensive backs Timarcus Davis and Jordan Clark are both out for Thursday’s game after being labeled as “week-to-week” the last few Mondays. Edwards hopes that both will return for the trip to Oklahoma State next week. Both participated in a very limited capacity on Sunday and Monday.
Defensive lineman Gharin Stansbury is still out with an injury and remains on the sidelines without pads during practice. Edwards called his return “close.”
Last-minute offensive line shifting
With pieces shifting all camp, Penn State transfer Des Holmes solidified himself at the right tackle spot and earned tons of kudos from coaches and teammates. During one segment of position drills, Iowa State transfer Joey Ramos took over at right tackle, with Chris Martinez playing right guard.
Holmes’s success created a previous battle at right guard between Martinez and Ramos, who can play all five positions on the line. Edwards talked about an offensive line “rotation,” and right guard and right tackle are under the spotlight.
It is very possible more than five offensive lineman play on Thursday.
Emmit Bohle returned to practice for game week after missing the last few weeks due to injury. Isaia Glass is repping at first-team left tackle as he and Bohle gun for the blindside protector spot.
Update: ASU football’s media relations staff released the depth chart Monday afternoon, which is pictured below.
ASU football depth chart per the team’s media relations staff. pic.twitter.com/DXgGROlxG9— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 29, 2022
Strong red zone defense
For the last week or so, Donnie Henderson and company experimented with a jumbo-defense package in red zone-defense segments. In these short-yardage scenarios, a defensive back is substituted off the field to bring in an extra defensive lineman.
The five-wide defensive line consisted of Anthonie Cooper, T.J. Pesefea, Nesta Jade SIlvera, Omarr Norman-Lott and Travez Moore. The defensive back substituted off the field was usually the cornerback opposite of Ro Torrence. In this case, that was Ed Woods.
“We have so many guys, and (a rotation) gives them the ability to just play hard,” Edwards said.
Defensive linemen B.J. Green and B’Ahmad Miller also took reps in this goal line-defense package.
- Emory Jones dropped back twice during a short red zone segment, and only threw the ball once. Jones rolled left and fired to Giovanni Sanders sneaking behind defenders in the back of the end zone, but the throw sailed high over Sanders’s head. His other dropback was whistled dead after a few seconds of tight coverage in the secondary.
Edwards says that personnel decisions on offense, particularly with the receivers, will be decided both by "the hot hand" and "how (offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas) calls the game."— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 29, 2022
- Messiah Swinson hauled in some of the most impressive receptions on the team during fall camp, but he also committed some of the worst drops. During individual drills Monday, Swinson dropped two passes coming out of breaks where it looked like he was a step too slow with the timing. The big play ability is there, but consistency will determine his target share with fellow tight end Jalin Conyers.
- The individual who has benefitted the most due to injuries may be junior defensive lineman Anthonie Cooper. Cooper, who combined for 30 tackles and recorded 3.5 sacks last year, could see a 2021-era Michael Matus-like leap at defensive end if his reps continue to increase.
- Edwards says that 7-8 guys will rotate at defensive back against NAU. “We anticipate that the whole season,” Edwards said.
"We got ourselves in a bad way with penalties, and we turned the ball over." - Herm Edwards on where the team can improve from last year's week one win against Southern Utah to this year against NAU.— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) August 29, 2022