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Opinion: Spring practice is already make or break for ASU’s offense

Anthony Totri Avatar
March 26, 2022

The Sun Devils’ offense looks vastly different than it did this time last year. ASU will feature a tandem of running backs, various wideouts, a quarterback competition and a brand new offensive coordinator. 

Some may look at those prospects as a glass half-full, but the new toys aren’t always the most fun to play with. 

ASU’s new offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas will have his hands full. The Sun Devils lost their workhorse tailback in Rachaad White, not to mention the departure of three starting offensive lineman and former ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels. 

Thomas is responsible for implementing a new offense to a bunch of guys who aren’t even sure who the quarterback is yet. That hasn’t stopped Thomas from giving ASU fans a glimpse into what the future of the Sun Devils’ offense looks like. 

“I think moving forward we want to have the versatility to a little bit of everything,” Thomas said. “Or that you can introduce and expose to the defense as far as gameplan and their recognition on their end the more you can do. Whether that be huddle, no huddle, tempo, non tempo, etc., we’ll have hopefully a little bit of everything available to give the defense a different look.”

The Sun Devils’ offense can showcase any and every look under the sun if they really wanted to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to lead to good football. As it stands right now, the Pac-12 will run through the USC Trojans, who have clear weapons and a starting quarterback.

ASU has neither of those right now. The most important ingredient of any offense in football is the quarterback. Right now, the Sun Devils’ quarterback competition is between redshirt junior Trenton Bourguet and redshirt junior Paul Tyson. 

“Is the quarterback here, is he not here, don’t know that,” coach Herm Edwards said. “Hopefully he’s in the building. If not, then there’s always plan B.”

That’s not the word of encouragement those in the ASU quarterback room probably want to hear. The Sun Devils’ current options are either a relatively undersized Bourguet or the Alabama transfer who’s left much to be desired in the first few spring football practices. 

Regardless of who wins the job, both Bourguet and Tyson are solid placeholders for ASU. It’s just a matter of figuring who should start. 

In the meantime, the skill position guys on the first-team offense will need to get accustomed to taking reps with both quarterbacks. That includes the likely workhorse of this Sun Devil offense, redshirt freshman running back Daniyel Ngata.

“We’re all trying to get comfortable,” Ngata said. “I’m glad that the offense, we’re all talking more than we were last year.”

Thomas’ offense isn’t the only new wrinkle for this ASU team. Similar to every season in college football, there’s a plethora of new guys who need to sync up with one another. Spring football is the ideal time for that communication and synergy to be built. 

If the Sun Devils are unable to develop that bond in these practices, it’ll put them behind come fall camp. With that in mind, Edwards said he believes this team is already on the right track. 

“I do believe just being around these guys the last two months there’s a different chemistry,” Edwards said. “There just is. This is just a different football team.”

Maybe this will be the first team under Edwards to finish a season ranked in the AP Top 25. Or it could be the year ASU wins more than eight games with Edwards at the helm. 

If either of those accomplishments are to take place in 2022 it’ll be thanks to Thomas’ offense, which is why these practices in late March and early April are so crucial. 

The Sun Devils need to figure out who their starting gunslinger will be in these next two weeks. It’ll allow more time for the first-team offense to build chemistry ahead of what’s bound to be an interesting season for ASU. Who knows, maybe with a successful spring, ASU may be the diamond in the rough of the Pac-12. 

After all, that’s why Thomas came to Tempe. 

“I think this is just a diamond of a place,” Thomas said. “I mean the city, not only the University, Ray [Anderson], the administration, the whole deal.” 

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