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Arizona State Sun Devils

In-depth analysis and observations of last two ASU practices

© Mark Henle/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

With just over two weeks remaining before the Sun Devils’ first game against Southern Utah on Aug. 31, practices are starting to ramp up.

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This has been especially heightened by quarterback Drew Pyne’s injury at Camp T on Saturday, which threw the team a “curveball” in terms of the QB situation, coach Kenny Dillingham said yesterday. 

Yesterday was a sloppy, penalty-filled day of practice, as Dillingham implemented new cadences and gave Jaden Rashada a lot of reps with the first team. Today, the Sun Devils responded well, as the offense played with more passion and the defense handled adversity thrown its way, which was exactly what Dillingham wanted.

I tracked all of the team drills from the past two days at Sun Devil fall camp. Here are some of my observations and notes, including more on the team’s sloppiness yesterday, a quarterback tracker, another position battle and a lot of standouts:

Yesterday’s Extended Day

Yesterday, Dillingham ran the third period (team tempo drills) to an extreme level of plays due to around ten penalties being committed. At one point, there were three false starts or offsides committed in a row. (This was due to the aforementioned new cadences)

Before this week, each team ran four play sets, but yesterday they started running eight play sets. Usually, one of Pyne, Trenton Bourguet or sometimes Rashada leads a drive down from the south to the north end of the field with the first team, and then one of the other QBs goes north to south with the second team.

However, Rashada ran four sets with the first team yesterday during this drill south to north and Bourguet ran three with the second team south to north.

Because of this long drill and other mistakes throughout, practice got done over an hour late.

QB Tracker

Here are the full numbers of how many team reps Rashada got yesterday vs. Bourguet in 11-on-11 drills and 7-on-7 drills.

Rashada: 8 first team, 3 second/third team

Bourguet: 3 first team, 9 second/third team

Today, it was harder to track because they mixed and matched a lot of guys, but it was split almost 50/50 on how many reps each quarterback got with each team.

What I do have noted is that the team ran five team drills. Bourguet started the first one, Rashada the second one, Bourguet the third one, Rashada the fourth one and Bourguet the fifth one.

Whether this increased first-team usage is just to speed Rashada up to being the direct backup or actually giving him a shot to compete with Bourguet has not been discovered yet.

The two QBs have been pretty average. Yesterday, both had a bad day, but they did make some good throws on the run. This was probably attributed to not being able to get in a rhythm because of all of the penalties and new cadences.

Today, Bourguet had a better day than Rashada. Rashada had a very rough 7-on-7 period where he threw three interceptions and missed on several throws, overthrowing a lot of his receivers.

You can clearly tell the potential that Rashada has by his arm strength and mobility, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

Bourguet has displayed what he has already shown in game action, and that is the ability to make accurate throws and reads from inside or outside the pocket. He also naturally has more chemistry with his targets because he has past game experience with most of them and more experience this fall.

We will see more of what transpires. If the season were to start right now, Bourguet would most likely be the starter just because he has more reps with the first team.

If Pyne is still hurt when the season starts, and it was my decision, I would start Bourguet and have him on a tight leash. Rashada is the team’s QB of the future, so it wouldn’t hurt to give him playing time right away if he proves that he is capable.

Another Interesting Position Battle

Returning sixth-year senior Giovanni Sanders and Colorado State grad transfer Melquan Stovall are battling it out for the slot wide receiver position. Before Camp T, Sanders was getting most of the reps with the first team. Now, it’s flipped with Stovall getting a lot of first-team reps and being a heavy target on top of that.

Sanders brings a lot of speed and looks like the best player on the second team when he plays with them. Stovall has a large catch radius and has made some nice plays, getting more targets than any other receiver when he’s out there. Both guys have proven that they are playmakers and can fit into this dynamic offense, so there should be a role for both of them.

Standouts (not just from first team)

Junior EDGE B.J. Green has been overall the most impressive player, as he has been very emotional but responded, especially yesterday. He has gotten nearly a handful of sacks the last two days and numerous pressures.

Junior WR and Idaho State transfer Xavier Guillory has, in my opinion, looked like the best wide receiver on the team. He has put in a lot of work, and it has shown. Guillory is one of the few guys who I think has displayed that passion Dillingham wants on offense, as he gets very upset when he makes a mistake. He has made some incredible catches over the past two days, been running his routes to a tee and been a sure-handed target wherever the ball is thrown his way. The tandem of him and Elijhah Badger as the outside wide receivers will be scary.

Freshman CB Keith Abney (from Texas, second team player) had an interception in one-on-one coverage on Badger. The next drill in 7-on-7s, he picked off Rashada. He has been having a good camp all fall, but today was the peak of it.

Sophomore EDGE and Oklahoma transfer Clayton Smith has been a very vocal leader and has joined B.J. Green in getting pressure in the backfield a lot all camp, but especially these last two days. In my opinion, he has been just as if not more passionate than some of the leaders on defense.

Junior CB Ed Woods became the third cornerback this camp who Dillingham has mentioned that has really stepped up (first was Ro Torrence, then Jordan Clark). Dillingham remarked on Woods after practice today.

“(In terms of) his mindset, he’s a different person,” Dillingham said. “He comes out every day with a smile on his face now, ready to work. And that’s somebody that I could be put in the foxhole with, and I’d feel great. I feel great having Ed Woods on our team. I feel great having Ed Woods on the field. Because that dude cares.”

Washington State grad transfer Travion Brown, from what I’ve seen, has to lead the team in interceptions this fall. He had two takeaways yesterday in the first two team drills. Brown looks to be the team’s top linebacker. His counterpart, Will Shaffer, has also stepped up following the dismissal of JuJu Mitchell from the team.

Michigan State grad transfer DL Dashaun Mallory has epitomized what a leader should be for the defense, according to defensive coordinator Brian Ward.

“He’s brought a lot of great example,” Ward said. “I mean, the guy comes from a big-time four-year program, so he’s been a part of it. He understands the process. He’s prepared. He takes care of his body. He communicates, he coaches those guys. He helps coach those guys in drills and pulls young guys aside and tells them, ‘Hey, that’s right, that’s wrong.’ That’s what a leader is supposed to do because he cares and when your leaders care that much about the development of the younger guys, you really feel good about the future.”

Sophomore RB/WR Javen Jacobs has kept up his strong play from spring and shown his versatility when the team needs it most. Jacobs figures to be the team’s top return man. Offensively, even though he lines up in the backfield, he has continued to be a top check-down target.

Junior RB George Hart III (second/third team) has been anchoring the second team with some of his runs for the past week. It’s hard to judge the running back room because they are down as soon as they’re touched in team drills, but Hart has made his presence known. Skattebo still appears to be the No. 1 option, but Hart is fighting for the No. 2 spot with junior Cal transfer DeCarlos Brooks, sophomore Tevin White, sophomore Javen Jacobs and freshman Kyson Brown all in the mix.

Senior WR Shawn Charles (second/third team) has become a favorite target for Rashada. Sun Devil fans might remember the two touchdowns in a row he caught from Rashada at Camp T, and he has continued to look for him this week when he plays with the second team.

As you can tell, most of these players come from the defensive side of the ball, which is an accurate reflection on how strong the defense has been lately.

Our practice articles from the past two days:

WATCH/READ: ASU Football Notes, Interviews after Penalty-Filled Day of Practice, QB Competition Update

WATCH: ASU Football Interviews after “Cleaner” Day of Practice

Still to come: A more in-depth story on CB Keith Abney and a preview of tomorrow’s scrimmage

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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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