TEMPE, Ariz. — ASU football continued its fall practice schedule Thursday morning in Tempe.
After hearing from select players and coaching staff, including head coach Herm Edwards, here are five takeaways from the first two days of preseason camp.
1. The success of this team depends on the development of junior quarterback Jayden Daniels.
"He's got a quiet personality but he's really starting to improve it and see the value in even just his urgency and just how he's attacking practice with his overall effort," said Zak Hill, ASU's Offensive Coordinator. "And just caring about his development more through practice and he's starting to become more of a vocal leader and a lot of it has to do with his body language."
Hill said that the leadership Daniels shows at practice exemplifies how detailed he is.
"Once he gets into practice you can see the urgency and the want to develop and the guys see that too. That's a big part of that leadership: earning that respect," said Hill.
Daniels said that he knows the team has some kinks to work out after coming back from the pandemic season.
"You're not going to be 100% or perfect in practice, but as long as we're perfect in games I'm comfortable. It's my second year in the offense I know the offense in and out," Daniels said.
Daniels said that he and Coach Hill talk on a daily basis to discuss improvement plans and what they can do to make the upcoming season great.
"You can see just the growth from last year to this year in the offense feeling more comfortable being able to go out there, check the plays and do other things," Daniels said.
2. Watch out for the beasts in the backfield.
"We're going to make sure those guys get in rhythms. It could be series, it could be plays, it could be whatever it is. Then once it gets going, as I said before, whoever has the hot hand," said ASU Assistant Coach of running backs Shaun Aguano.
Aguano said that Rachaad White, DeaMonte Trayanum and Daniyel Ngata work together to make sure they are getting the job done. Something he said is a "rare commodity".
"The good thing about it is those three guys are very unselfish so they understand if that guy gets a hot hand, we're feeding him," Aguano said. "So there isn't that ego. You can see in practice they'll substitute themselves out for each other and that's a rare commodity in a backfield because most of the guys are for themselves and I'm very, very lucky to have those three."
Trayanum said that after the shortened season last year, he and his teammates are excited to get back to a full season. He said that personally, he has been working to perfect his game.
"I feel like me and Rachaad (White), our expectations are in our head because if he pops, I gotta pop and vice versa it's fun because we compete within that and we keep it fun between us," Trayanum said. "But also we be honed in and locked in and we just make each other better like when we come off to the sideline, giving each other keys and that's just not even just me and Rachaad, that's the entire running back room."
Trayanum said that as a group, the players give each other pointers to make sure they are all on top of their game. He also credited fellow running back Daniyel Ngata with making strides.
"In the weight room, Daniyel is one of the strongest individuals I've seen at his size. And just how he moves on the football field, his swiftness and stuff -- Dan is a really good component," Trayanum said. "Sometimes he may be under looked but Dan is the same kind of back as me and Rachaad."
3. Expect this experienced defense to pose problems for opposing teams.
"The linebackers? They have a lot of experience. Secondary? A lot of experience. We've got some experienced defensive lineman but I think it's starting to come together now and we're not going to complicate it on defense," ASU football Head Coach Herm Edwards explained. "We're not. And I think A.P. (Antonio Pierce) is going to do a great job of just really letting these guys play and just use our talents to see how good our talent is versus someone else's talent."
Edwards said that he has seen this team grow over the past four years and he wants nothing more than for them to have success.
"Our defense is really, really good. We saw that for the last two days. They're able to get up in your face and they're physical and they're athletic at all three levels," Zak Hill said.
Hill continued to give props to all of the linebackers on the D-line and receivers on the O-line for their physicality on the field.
4. Coaches are establishing an emphasis on focus and mental toughness.
"Mentally we gotta be sharper when we're tired. And we're tired, I get it. We're out of condition right now, we gotta get used to the heat, and we're getting back into this structured atmosphere where it's a full day of football," Hill said.
The team is focussing on the tail end of practice. The players are being encouraged by the coaching staff to maintain focus.
5. Herm Edwards is not letting the ongoing NCAA investigation change his team’s approach to the upcoming season.
"Like I tell them all the time, every season, every year around here: don't let the outside noises affect what we need to do," Edwards said." That's our mindset."
ASU football opens its season at home on Thursday, September 2, against Southern Utah. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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