TEMPE Ariz. - Arizona State’s practice Tuesday started with a lighthearted competition drill and ended with bad news and disappointment from head coach Kenny Dillingham.
“That was our worst practice by far,” Dillingham said. “Worst practice by far, not even close. (The) energy, passion, it just wasn’t there like it has been in prior days.
“It’s just noticeably different. We had a few of our leaders that were banged-up today, so we held them (out), and you can see that their passion (and) energy our team was looking for (was not there).”
O-Line takes a hit
Dillingham also announced after practice that Cal transfer offensive lineman Ben Coleman will miss extended time with a lower-leg injury, and he’s aiming to get back “towards the end of the season, middle of the season, somewhere in there,” per Dillingham.
In 22 games at Cal, Coleman started 16 of them at left guard. He was a prime candidate to fill the left-guard spot vacated by LaDarius Henderson when he transferred to Michigan following last season.
“It’s a position, right now, where we need somebody to step up,” Dillingham said. “We need somebody to step up and somebody to step in.”
Senior Joey Ramos could slide over, but he seems solidified at the right guard position. Whoever loses the center battle between junior Ben Bray and UNLV transfer Leif Fautanu also could be an option. Perhaps the ideal answer would be to add another veteran competitor with experience via the transfer portal. Valenzuela did not join the team until fall practice last season.
Junior Isaia Glass looks to have a slight edge over Oregon transfer Bram Walden at left tackle, as does East Los Angeles College transfer Max Iheanachor at right tackle. Graduate senior Emmit Bohle played significant snaps last season, and he is mostly playing right tackle.
It’s always worth mentioning in the spring: the offense has not been completely installed yet, the schemes are basic, and the coaches are splitting reps. Now, there are still interesting notes to take away. House of Sparky spent Tuesday’s practice following the quarterbacks through position drills.
Senior Trenton Bourguet and Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne take the first reps in almost all of the drills. All quarterbacks complete each drill, but the two with the most experience are usually in the engine car.
“They’re believing in what we are saying (in terms of) getting the ball out quick,” Dillingham said. “Right now, I think this will be the first practice, potentially, (where) we didn’t have a (player with a) 70-percent completion percentage, which is kind of what we look at.
“Can you catch and throw? Can you distribute to the playmakers? And when you do that, it takes pressure off the offensive line. When you do that, it frustrates pass rushers. So can you do that while also not taking negatives? That’s the one thing with the room that we have to grow on. We’re taking too many sacks, too many negative right now.”
Bourguet appears to be the quarterback who is best at finding his outlet and recognizing pressure. His accuracy is still there too. Between Pyne and Bourguet, we would give Bourguet the slight edge on the eye-test alone.
During the first team-segment Tuesday, Bourguet marched the offense down the field on a 4-of-5 showing. They ended in field-goal position.
Now, Jaden Rashada.
Dillingham and offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin are probably doing the right thing with Rashada. He and sophomore walk-on Max Clark receive the fewest live snaps, if any, out of all the quarterbacks each practice. Rashada often sits back and processes.
That aside, the ball comes out of his hand more explosively than any other player on the field.
The 19-year-old has apparently impressed his head coach with his ability to recall hand signals. If that is a signal for where the freshman is trending, it’s not going to take long before Rashada starts his first collegiate game. It just depends on your definition of “long.”
Weekly Jaden Rashada video. pic.twitter.com/HLN0Vk4IeT— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) March 28, 2023
An emerging back
We talked extensively last week about our predicted running back tandem of Sacramento State transfer Cam Skattebo and sophomore Tevin White. Cal transfer DeCarlos Brooks must have felt left out, because he has played himself into the discussion.
In Tuesday’s first team drills, Brooks broke four runs of 10-plus yards. Last year at Cal, he rushed for 250 yards and one score on 4.2 yards per-carry. To put that in perspective, White rushed for 67 yards and 4.8 yards per-carry in limited snaps last season.
“(Brooks) understands the speed and physicality that come with the game,” running-backs coach Shaun Aguano said. “I’m excited to coach him again. I’ve been off three years, but he brings that maturity to that room, that professionalism. I’m excited to see what he can do.”
Cal graduate transfer RB DeCarlos Brooks has been linked to Arizona State.— Cole Topham (@HamAnalysis) December 7, 2022
Bagged 51 touchdowns under Shaun Aguano at Chandler. 2018 Arizona Offensive Player of the Year and former No. 12 recruit in the state. Similar frame to Daniyel Ngata with quick feet and lateral burst. pic.twitter.com/V6uhB43VL2
The ever-positive Aguano, who coached Brooks to three state-title victories at Chandler High School, echoed that same excitement for the four-man room in general — one that would include junior George Hart III — but he said there will be one more unnamed freshman addition coming in the fall.
- The defense, as a whole, won the day. The first two offensive groups during the live team-scrimmage portion of practice — quarterbacked by Bourguet and Bennett Meredith — both went three-and-out. The first chain-moving play came on the ninth snap of the segment on a slant from Pyne to senior receiver Shawn Charles.
- It’s hard to miss 6-foot-4-inch, 231-pound receiver Troy Omeire. The Texas transfer scored on a connection with Bourguet in Saturday’s scrimmage, and his stature is one of an NFL prospect. Omeire was a 2020-preseason standout at Texas before tearing his ACL. He never returned to form after re-aggravating the same knee in 2021.
- Dillingham started the practice with out-of-position one-on-ones that were fun and lighthearted. The energy was palpable, but it stalled shortly after. We doubt we will see a practice start the same way again.
- Defensive Player of the Day goes to cornerback Tarik Luckett. Luckett blanketed two-straight receivers during one-on-ones and received an ovation from his teammates on both reps. Luckett made the jump from receiver to defensive back at Colorado before transferring to Cisco College to refine his game. He recorded two picks and a forced-fumble in two years of juco ball.