Three takeaways from Arizona State’s 2022 spring showcase
It wasn’t really a game, rather a showcase.
Arizona State put its spring work on display for the fanbase to see on Saturday. Here are three takeaways from the action.
The biggest question remains
Prior to Saturday evening’s spring showcase getting under way, first-year offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas was asked by the Pac-12 Network broadcast crew on hand what he wants to see from his eventual starting quarterback. Thomas gave two things: efficiency and consistency.
Get the offense into its stuff, make smart decisions, make on-time reads, keep things moving. As Arizona State looks for its Jayden Daniels replacement, perhaps its fair to expect a shift. Whereas the last few seasons have featured a bit of playmaking in chaos, Thomas’ new offense sounds like it wants to be a little more chaos-averse.
During the various periods, fans were treated to an up-close look at Vanilla ASU, but there was still enough under-center work to be noticeable. There was a good bit of it mixed in with the more typical pistol and gun sets. ASU huddled! A potential quartet of quality running backs means ASU might only need a player that’s more game-manager than game-breaker to make this offense go.
Xazavian Valladay got really light work, but he’s shown plenty throughout his career to feel good about what you’re going to get from him. Daniyel Ngata looks spry. Tevin White could be a pass-catching weapon from the backfield. George Hart got some snaps as well. Everyone has a little bit different juice to their game.
That group should be ASU’s quarterback’s best friends, whoever the quarterback ends up being.
The big takeaway from the evening: that position is still clearly up for grabs, and it almost feels a little incomplete. Juniors Trenton Bourguet and Paul Tyson seem to be the top two guys, but they have a combined 12 career pass attempts in a Sun Devils jersey.
Both had a couple of nice throws, like this from Tyson…
Paul Tyson with a 37 yard pass completed to Bryan Thompson. @DevilsDigest pic.twitter.com/r7KecXfsD8
— Hunter Whalen (@HunterWhalen16) April 10, 2022
… but they also missed a few as well. Bourguet took the first snap of the night, rolled to his left, and fired well over his intended receiver’s head. He missed an open out route that would have gone for a touchdown during some red zone work later.
There was a nice moment early where he climbed in the pocked and delivered a dart over the middle. You really notice his size, though. The 5-foot-11 Arizona native is a pretty slim guy, but he’ll fire a ball in there.
We’ll see. As the rest of the country moves out of spring and into summer workouts, there are going to be guys who jump into the portal. Arizona State should have options if it wishes to go into the portal to try and find another piece to add to the room.
It’s also important to remember, though, that this is a new offense and a new offensive coordinator and there was very little shown. Players were tagging off. Perhaps this can be a strong rushing attack, and if you pair a strong ground game with this defense, that could again prove to be this squad’s recipe for success.
The ASU defensive line got consistent push. And it was a group missing the big man in the middle in Miami transfer Nesta Jade Silvera, as well as a couple other guys who will play roles. This was an excellent defense a year ago, and though quite a bit needs replacing in the backend, the front seven still looks tough as nails.
“The one thing I do know is we’re fast, we’re physical, and they’re smart,” defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said during the broadcast. “You only have to tell them one time.”
They’re working to replace Darien Butler in the middle, but a combination of Merlin Robertson (64 tackles), Kyle Soelle (team-high 88 tackles), and Eric Gentry (45 tackles) could be as good a linebacking group as there is in the league. Soelle is a super-senior. Robertson is a fifth-year starter. Gentry was a consensus Freshman All-American.
That group stood out early and often.
Quote of the night
Senior wideout Ricky Pearsall had the line of the night talking about being one of the faces of the program.
"Everybody on the team is the face of the team…"@PearsallRicky on repping his hometown school 🔱
📺 Pac-12 Networks pic.twitter.com/BANTfsYuHC
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) April 10, 2022
Coach Herm Edwards said on the broadcast prior to the session that this year’s team has a different chemistry to it. It feels like a tighter-knit group. Players interviewed throughout the broadcast echoed that sentiment, including Pearsall.
The Sun Devils have largely been written off as a threat in the Pac-12 South for the upcoming season. That has put a nice little chip on the shoulder.