TEMPE, Ariz. - Tuesday was Arizona State’s first day in full-pads. There were many competition drills. Pads popped. Things got chippy — within reason.
For coach Kenny Dillingham, it’s the easiest part of his job.
“It’s football, it’s really not that hard,” Dillingham said. “People make it sound really hard, all the other stuff back in the building, that’s the hard part. This is the easy part, this is football.”
House of Sparky will recap notes and takeaways from the offensive side of the ball on Tuesdays.
Options at O-Line
Two platoons received a bulk of the snaps in team drills Tuesday.
First Group: LT Isaia Glass, LG Danny Valenzuela, C Leif Fautanu, RG Joey Ramos , and RT Max Iheanchor.
Second Group: LT Bram Walden, LG Ralph Frias, C Ben Bray, RG Thomas Le Boucher, and RT Emmit Bohle.
Glass and Bohle each played in 12 games for ASU last season, which lead all returning offensive linemen. Bray and Frias were rotational guys who filled-in on injuries, and Ramos would have been in a similar role had he been healthy.
Expect Walden to battle Glass for the left tackle spot. He is a raw talent and also is familiar with Dillingham’s offense coming from Oregon. Bray and Fautanu will duke it out for the center spot too. Because there is depth at center, Ramos could make the full-time transition to guard. Cal-transfer Ben Coleman will be in-play for a guard spot.
Glass made a rare offensive line highlight during team drills when he de-cleated outside linebacker Gharin Stansbury, which opened a nice hole for Tevin White to burst through for a big gain.
The competition drills in practice Tuesday were centered around 3rd down & 1. Offense ran the ball a handful of times against defense, and the offense was only stopped once.
“It’s good to do that now because there are going to be times in the game where it’s third-and-short, fourth-and-short and you know it’s a run, it’s coming, so you’ve gotta buck-up. I think coach Dillingham does a great job of mimicking that in practice so we are ready for it in the game.”
There does not seem to be a position that is locked-down, per se. That’s the beauty of spring ball.
Tight end and running back: dynamic duos
Nobody will be surprised to hear that Jalin Conyers continues to be a playmaker in practice. Tuesday saw multiple connections between Trenton Bourguet and Conyers during team drills.
Fellow tight end Messiah Swinson is another big target who could see his target-count increase in 2023. The 6-foot-8-inch, 255-pound target collected 15 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
“They’re featuring (Jalin and I) a lot more together in 12-personnel,” Swinson said. “Which is awesome because when both of us are on the field, I don’t think anybody can stop us.”
“They’re featuring us a lot more together, which is awesome because when both of us are on the field, I don’t think anybody can stop us.”— Spencer Gustafson (@SPENNYGOOSE_) March 21, 2023
— #SunDevils TE Messiah Swinson on getting more on-field time with Jalin Conyers so far this spring @HouseOfSparky pic.twitter.com/RcWOsXhXse
In the backfield, White’s vision and speed are notable. He will likely be a part of the top-tandem after limited, but productive, use in 2022.
Sacramento State transfer Cameron Skattebo will be the thumper. The 5-foot-10-inch, 220-pound running back is not afraid of contact. He showed that Tuesday when he bounced-off a potential run-stopping tackle in the backfield from linebacker Will Shaffer, turning the run into positive yardage.
Last season, Skattebo rushed for 1,372 yards on 195 attempts (7.0 yards per-carry) and seven rushing touchdowns last year. He caught three touchdown passes on 371 yards receiving.
Cal-transfer DeCarlos Brooks and George Hart III are the other backs competing for snaps.
Near the end of practice during 11-on-11’s, Dillingham tipped his hand.
“Defense, give me your best 11,” he belted on the loudspeakers.
Without further adieu, here is that defensive “best 11.”
- EDGE B.J. Green II
- DL C.J. Fite
- DL Anthonie Cooper
- EDGE Clayton Smith
- LB Tate Romney
- LB Will Shaffer
- DB Shemari Simmons
- DB Jordan Clark
- DB Chris Edmonds
- DB Ro Torrence
- DB Isaiah Johnson
Dillingham did not announce whether the offensive group was his “best 11,” but below is the offensive unit from the same period.
- LT Isaia Glass,
- LG Danny Valenzuela
- C Leif Fautanu
- RG Joey Ramos
- RT Max Iheanchor
- TE Jalin Conyers
- WR Elijhah Badger
- WR Xavier Guillory
- WR Giovanni Sanders
- RB Tevin White
- QB Trenton Bourguet
Notes from the other side of the ball
- Chris Edmonds, who tallied three interceptions in 2022, is just as strong in run-support as he is in-coverage. Edmonds found himself at-or-behind the line-of-scrimmage at multiple points during team drills Tuesday.
- In the trenches, freshman early-enrollee C.J. Fite is a plug up-the-middle. Fite and Wisconsin-transfer Tristan Monday combined for the solo 3rd-and-1 stop of the day.
- Ro Torrence is the man-to-beat in WR-CB one-on-ones. Rarely does he get bested in those drills.