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ASU Football: Fall camp introduction, Emory Jones, strong defense and more from day one

A standard first practice shortened by weather

Photo of Emory Jones by Zac BonDurant, House of Sparky

The first day of fall practices was fairly typical, and slightly condensed due to storm concerns, but it also gave us the first look at Emory Jones in an ASU helmet, and the other 42 new players to the program.

Players were only in helmets Wednesday, but we were treated to an extended 11-on-11 segment that offered some new insights into the depth chart.

Below are House of Sparky’s general observations and quotes-of-the-day from the post-practice media session.

After an offseason full of ups-and-downs, the fall kickoff was stable and injury-free.

Herm Edwards applauded his team after practice for coming to camp in good health, and remaining healthy through the first practice, citing health as “the number-one concern.” We will hear about injuries during camp through the coaching staff directly, as the university as requested the media not report on immediate injuries in practice for privacy reasons.

Edwards knocked on the table for good luck after announcing the day-one success.

All eyes were on Emory Jones, who took first-team reps during 11-on-11s

There is still no official decision on the starting quarterback. Alabama transfer Paul Tyson took the first offense-on-defense snaps of the day, but Jones took the majority of the remaining reps. Trenton Bourguet also rotated with Tyson and Jones.

Jones’s first pass sailed over the out-stretched arms of Andre Johnson, but he settled down to make some nice intermediate-level throws. All three quarterbacks showed poise on progressing through their reads and finding the check down, from which junior running back Daniyel Ngata reaped the benefits.

Bourguet also displayed top-notch accuracy when he threaded the needle between two defenders to Chad Johnson Jr.

Overall, there were as many shaky passes as strong ones as the offense worked on rhythm and timing on day one.

Tyson underthrew one ball behind Virginia Union transfer Charles Hall IV, who adjusted nicely and snagged a contested catch that should have been intercepted. Hall and Kilgore College transfer Zeek Freeman are the two newest receivers to ASU.

Edwards complimented Hall (6-foot, 190 pounds) for his size, strength and speed. Hall also worked with the punt returners Wednesday.

Defense, per usual, has a head start against the offense. Size and speed lead the way.

This is true for most programs, at all levels, at the start of fall camp. ASU also has most of its experience located on the defensive side of the ball, so it was to nobody’s surprise when the offense struggled to move the ball, albeit in a walkthrough-like setting.

For those worried about last year’s starting secondary moving on in its entirety, there looks to be a lot of promise in the new crop. Timarcus Davis and Macen Williams are familiar faces that took starting reps at cornerback, but 6-foot-4 Auburn and juco transfer Ro Torrence was a sight to behold on an island in man coverage.

“Having that length in the defensive backfield is really cool,” safety Jordan Clark said.

One rep saw Johnson Jr. gain a step or two on Torrence down the sideline, but even a perfect throw would not have landed beyond the outstretched hands of Torrence who recovered nicely and deflected the pass.

“When you have guys with length, and we play so much man-to-man and press, and when the ball is thrown, the hardest ball to defend is the one the cornerback can’t see because his back is turned,” Edwards said. “A guy can get a step on you, but if you have length, you can make up for it.”

Clark rotated with Kejuan Markham, Khourey Bethley, Chris Edmonds, and Alijah Gammage at safety. Gammage, who was put on scholarship before Wednesday’s practice, had at least one pass-breakup during team drills.

“Alijah is a very smart player,” Edwards said. “He’s a core special teams guy...the guys were excited.”

The play of the day lit up the defensive sideline and came from a newcomer. Freshman defensive lineman Blazen Lono-Wong deflected a pass from Paul Tyson, tipping the ball to himself for an interception that may have been a touchdown in a real game.

“It’s good to see that passion and energy on the first day,” defensive end Michael Matus said. “Especially when there (are) new guys getting that. That’s a freshman that got the pick. To see everyone involved on both sidelines, it’s exciting to see on the first day.

Extra, Extra!

  • Miami transfer Nesta Jade Silvera practiced in-full for the first time as a Sun Devil. Silvera is expected to rotate with Tautala Pesafea Jr. at nose tackle.
  • Defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez applauded big men Travez Moore and Gharin Stansbury at media day Monday, and Moore repped with the second-team Wednesday. Anthonie Cooper played with the first-team alongside Michael Matus. Omarr-Norman Lott also was with the ones.
  • As for left tackle, Emmit Bohle received the first nod with the first-teamers. Bohle and Isaia Glass are fighting for left tackle. Des Holmes took the right tackle reps, and Chris Martinez was at right guard. Joey Ramos also repped at right tackle.
  • While Messiah Swinson was targeted heavily, another fine reception came from Jalin Conyers, who turned a slightly overthrown pass into a one-handed, tipped catch with room to run.
  • Merlin Robertson generated a lot of hype with his new physique, which is slightly leaned-out, likely for the purposes of speed and athleticism. With his arm-sleeve tattoo, Robertson’s frame resembles Aquaman more than the Mandrake.