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Sun Devil Football Practice Report (10-12/16)

Oct 16, 2020

Sun Devil Football Practice Reports - 2020

Monday (10/12)/Tuesday (10/13) Practices

Warm Up Songs:
Show Stop – Reason
NFL – Lil Wayne 
Said Sum – Moneybagg Yo ft. DaBaby & City Girls
Still Dre – Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg

 General Observations
·      During warm-ups, one of the stretching drills requires players to hold onto a football while they get loose. Kevin Mawae and other members of the Sun Devil Football support staff try to punch the ball out and force a fumble. Mawae was unsuccessful in his attempt to make Brandon Pierce fumble.
·      Cristian Zendejas nailed a 47-yard field goal with Erik Dickerson as the long snapper and Michael Turk as the holder
·      A rare loss for Jack Jones in 1-on-1 caused him some frustration. Jayden Daniels noticed a fiery Jones upset about allowing a catch. Daniels shouted "You are good #0. I love your competitiveness. I know you don't like to lose." Jones acknowledged Daniels support and let Daniels know "I appreciate you."
·      Jones' desire for perfection came up again later in 1-on-1 work, an area where Jones has been exceptional in the opening days of practice. Frank Darby got the better of him on a deep ball and Jones came to the sideline, acknowledged the route Darby ran and immediately went to Chris Hawkins to discuss what he should have done on the play. After the chat, Jones asked Hawkins what his record was in man-to-man coverage through the first three days of practice "What am I now? 20-2 or 20-3? That's too many. Those are adding up."
·      Coach Edwards wanted to make sure Cam Phillips was rotating in and getting the proper amount of reps in the secondary during 3-on-3 work. Phillips had slowly been working his way back into practice fitness after rejoining the team late this Fall.  Edwards shouted to Phillips, "When you going to get a rep? You keep telling us how you've been working out in Houston. Let's see what you got." Phillips took the next rep and forced an incomplete pass in his direction.
·     During a special teams session, Will Shaffer delivered a big hit to protect his teammate who had just jumped on a loose ball after an attempted onside kick. Drew the praise of Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum and Chase Lucas.
·      Some of the corners wore boxing gloves during the 1-on-1 session, which prevented them from using their hands to grab. They were forced to completely rely on technique and athleticism. Chase Lucas, Jack Jones, and Jordan Clark were a few of the corners to don the gloves. Lucas didn't much enjoy the first rep with them on and attempted to take them off but Marvin Lewis wasn't having it. "Put 'em on Chase. Learn to play so you're not grabbin." Lucas got the better end of the next two reps and earned Lewis' blessing to pass them onto another teammate. 
·      Lucas had impeccable coverage on Johnny Wilson during the one-on-one action, but couldn't do much about the freshman's length as he simply went over the top of Lucas and made a contested grab. After the one-on-one period, Lucas went to chat with Herm Edwards about the play "Hey coach, #14 is going to be pretty good. I thought I had a pick there." Edwards smiled and nodded "#3 (LV Bunkley-Shelton) is going to be really good also."
·      Offensive line coach Dave Christensen is not hesitant about letting his opinion be known, but he had a lot of praise to offer to Dohnovan West and Cade Cote during positional drills, letting them know that "That's how practice is supposed to look. Good job!."
·      T Lee had his best day so far and flashed his instincts and awareness all session. Broke on a route and stepped in front of a receiver to make an interception, much to the delight of Chase Lucas and the rest of his defensive teammates
·      D.J. Davidson keeps getting into the backfield consistently, whether it be on run or pass plays. He was without question the most fluid defensive lineman during dummy drills and he and Jermayne Lole were the only two that didn't have to go back and repeat reps.
·      Defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez emphasized with his ends the importance of finishing every rep completely and not taking shortcuts at the end, having Stanley Lambert and Tyler Johnson focus on the "finish" several times.  
 Individual Drills
·      Antonio Pierce had his linebacker group practicing tackling with emphasis on keeping the head up. One of the loudest drills at practice because the pads were popping as the physical mentality of the linebackers was on display.
·      Connor Soelle has been working with the linebacker unit, which sometimes requires him to go head-to-head with his older brother and team captain Kyle Soelle. Much like the backyard growing up, the Soelle brothers had no problem getting physical with each other during the hitting drill.
·      Coach Edwards was involved with several position groups during individual work, but was particularly hands-on with the defensive backs. The former NFL defensive back himself was demonstrating how he wanted the defensive backs to back pedal and flip their hips and accelerate to where the ball was being thrown. Chase Lucas and Jack Jones picked the brain of Edwards while he was teaching.
·      Jack Jones continues to get more comfortable as a leader. He held the coaches accountable after they ran a drill to the same side too many times in a row. Jones commented, "Mix it up. Give us a different look." The coaches acknowledged he was right and proceeded to alternate sides and challenge the secondary with different ways of doing the drill.
·      Edwards remained with the secondary to emphasize pre-snap alignment and how to best utilize your eyes. He pointed out that while you want to use your eyes, you can't always rely on them. Edwards instructed that a combination of trusting technique and strong eye discipline is more effective.
7-on-7 and 1-on-1 Observations
·      Great coverage by the entire secondary and linebackers forced a dump off for a short gain. Defensive coaches praised this rep because the defense wasn't fooled by a number of double moves and eye candy that was attempted by the offense. 
·      Jayden Daniels hit Johnny Wilson on a post route for what would have been a touchdown. Wilson used his big body to prevent the defender from having a chance at the ball. Later in the session, Wilson caught a dig route for a touchdown from Trenton Bourguet. 
·      Jayden Daniels hit Chip Trayanum out of the backfield right as he was coming out of his break on an angle route, catching the defense off-guard.
·      Ed Woods locked down his man and did not give him the opportunity to come back to the ball, which allowed Aashari Crosswell to come over and make a deflection.
·      Frank Darby's out route was a thing of beauty as he continues to expand his route tree capabilities. Extremely precise and sudden in his movements.
·      Chase Lucas was exceptional in 1-on-1 drills, leading the way with three "wins". No other player on offense or defense had more than one in the period.
·      Dohnovan West and Kellen Diesch went 2-for-2 on their reps of 1-on-1 action in offensive vs. defensive lines.  D.J. Davidson had two wins defensively as well. 
 11-on-11 Observations
·      Chase Lucas instincts and timing allowed him to break on a slant route and break up the pass. As has been the case with Lucas throughout practice, he is never satisfied. He was mad at himself for not making an interception on what was a difficult catch to make.
·      Kyle Soelle flashed several times during this session, including staying home on a read option call. He also recognized a play-action bootleg concept and blew up the flat route.
·      Jermayne Lole utilized his quickness to get in the backfield on a zone run play to make a tackle for loss.
·      Penetration and anticipation by Stephon Wright forced a botched center-quarterback snap exchange, resulting in a big loss.
·      A hole appeared to be open for the running back, but Jordan Banks quickly filled it and stuffed the run with an excellent hit.
·      The team remained in the 11-on-11 format, but moved to the red zone.
·      Great play by Joe Moore to beat his block and tackle the running back in the backfield.
·      Jack Jones and Chase Lucas each broke up a pass on attempted fade routes into the end zone.
·      Merlin Robertson came off the edge to record what would have been a sack.
·      DeAndre Pierce came up from his safety spot in run support, preventing a touchdown with a goal line tackle.
·      D.J. Davidson bull rushed his way into the backfield for a tackle for loss.
·      Darby and Kyle Horn recorded red zone touchdown receptions during the period. 
Thursday (10/15)/Friday (10/16) Practices 

Warm Up Songs: 
Runnin – 21 Savage x Metro Boomin
Cooler - Gunna ft. Roddy Ricch

 General Observations
·      The team practiced in the bubble for the first time on Thursday.
·      A couple number changes through a week of practice: WR  LV Bunkley-Shelton has transition to jersey #2 (previously #3), RB Rachaad White is now in #2 (previously #21) and RB/DB D.J. Taylor is in #9 (previously #19).
·      Michael Turk showed off his leg in punting drills, frequently hitting the top of the bubble with his towering kicks.
·      Derek Hagan extremely involved and hands on in the special teams' session. Working with both the gunners and returners.
·      Antonio Pierce's resourcefulness on full display. He did not have enough bodies to run the drill he wanted, so he used trash cans to simulate blockers instead. Shaun Aguano also utilized whatever was available to him for a drill, using a boxing glove attached to the end of a stick to simulate a defender trying to jar the ball loose.
·      Frank Darby, who has appeared on nearly 300 special teams plays in his career and a cornerstone of the Sun Devil special teams units the last several seasons, has taken a backseat in those formations in favor of his role as the team's X receiver this year. Despite not being an active part of the majority of special teams units, Darby has very much been involved in the special teams sessions as a leader and pseudo-coach in recent practices. 
 ·      The squad took part in a very physical punt gunner drill on Thursday with Darby looking on from the sidelines (when he wasn't running up the field to congratulate a teammate in the middle of a drill), giving advice and motivation to guys like Keith Davis and Timarcus Davis
 ·      Conversely - and a theme throughout practice - it was Darby's roommate Chase Lucas who took the lead with the punt return unit and was riding his blockers against Darby's gunners in what proved to be a very intense session for both sides of the ball.
 ·      Darby could be heard throughout the dome in encouraging the team's kickers during the field goal units as well. 
 ·      In red zone drills, Darby and Lucas went man-to-man on a ball to the back corner of the end zone. Darby was able to tip the ball to himself and snag it with one hand but there was a strong disagreement between the offense and defensive players over whether or not Darby got a foot down in bounds. Lucas was adamant he didn't and livid that it was even up for discussion while Darby did his touchdown celebration back to the huddle. In a case of iron sharpening iron, Lucas and Frank Darby have made it known that they want to match up with each other as much as possible as two of the team leaders trying and set the tone for their side of the ball. 
 ·      The camaraderie and passion of the secondary has been fun to watch with perhaps no more vocal unit on the team. Discussions on coverage schemes and concepts at times reach fevered pitches in a group that knows what it is capable of and not willing to settle for anything less. It is not uncommon to see the one's come off the field and immediately start lining up on the sideline and establish what went wrong on previous plays or what can be improved upon. 
 ·      Jack Jones has frequently been seen pulling younger players to the side to calm them down after frustrating reps or tough team periods, coaching them up and getting their head back on straight. 
 11-on-11 Observations
·      Defense had a really successful day in practice and nowhere was it more evident than in the 11-on-11 session. 
·      The offense was prevented from moving the ball much thanks to contributions from guys all over the field. 
·      Darien Butler set the tone and fired his unit up with a perfectly-timed blitz up the middle to completely disrupt a running play before it could even develop. Butler was flying around all session long, moving decisively and playing at a high level. He had at least three tackles for loss and was excellent in coverage as well. Consistently drew the praise of both his co-defensive coordinators Antonio Pierce and Marvin Lewis.
·      Stephon Wright was double-teamed, but that did not stop him from getting penetration up the middle. He did not make the "stop", but forced the play to go outside, which it was not designed to do.
·      Chase Lucas continues to make the right reads and has shown significant progress with his instincts and reaction. Lucas has found a special balance of being able to trust that his technique and athleticism will allow him to make up ground while the ball is in the air, while refraining from jumping routes too early. Has been very disciplined throughout practice in that regard. He nearly had an interception when guarding Frank Darby, in what has been a competitive battle throughout practice.
·      Timarcus Davis beat a block and made a tackle for loss on a swing pass.
·      Will Shaffer and his solid frame are a handful for opposing blockers and ballcarriers. Shaffer saw the running back screen coming, shedding a block on his way to making a tackle in the backfield.
·      LV Bunkley-Shelton continues to get open on a frequent basis, with the ability to run several different types of routes. He had a big gain on a post pattern, with Jayden Daniels putting it on him right in stride. 
·      Logan Tyler got a chance to kick a field goal in a sudden change situation, simulating the kicking unit having to rush on the field for a quick kick. Tyler was not phased, nailing a 45-yarder which made Head Coach of Football Sports Performance Joe Connolly proud. "That would have been good from 60," Connolly observed.
·      In a special teams-focused practice on Friday, Cristian Zendejas and Logan Tyler nailed all four of their field goal/extra point attempts with plenty of leg on each. 
·      The longest of the four tries was from 45-yards, with emerging team leader Frank Darby on the sidelines rooting on both guys. When Zendejas hit his 45-yarder, Darby cheered "Yes Zendejas, that leg is working today."
·      Darien Butler provided brilliant zone coverage which prompted Antonio Pierce to pause the activities for a moment to point out to his linebacker unit "That is exactly how you play that technique." Daniels was forced to tuck and run because no one was open. The rep offered an example of Daniels' unique ability to extend plays.
·      Connor Soelle got a shoutout from Antonio Pierce after he broke up a pass over the middle thanks to perfect zone coverage.
·      Evan Fields followed suit with a pass breakup, as the defense was extremely stingy during the session. Fields wasted no time breaking on an out route, breaking up the pass while also maintaining a grip on the receiver in case he was to catch it (much to the delight of Marvin Lewis).
·      Daniyel Ngata turned a two-yard flat route out of the backfield into a 20+-yard game thanks to a special open-field move. Ngata collected major yards after the catch and contact on the play. Natural pass catcher, looking like a receiver with the ball in the air and in his hands.
·      Curtis Hodges with a beautifully-run seam route, with Daniels putting it on the money. Hodges big frame makes him a handful for safeties to guard.
 7-on-7 Observations
·      T Lee broke on an out route and timed a pass breakup perfectly from his slot corner position.
·      A brilliant play call by Zak Hill was executed by Trenton Bourguet and the offense, as Frank Darby found himself wide open as the defense was confused by the structure of the play.
·      Trenton Bourguet found success with a few freshman receivers. First, he hit Chad Johnson Jr. on a hitch route for a first down. The two were on the same page, as Johnson broke off his route and the ball was on him immediately. Next, he hit LV Bunkley-Shelton over the middle on a deep in route.
·      Macen Williams stuck to his man like glue, as the quarterback ran out of the allotted time to throw (no pass rush, so they use a timer).
·      Daylin McLemore hit Ricky Pearsall for a touchdown on a deep post route.
·      Nolan Matthews got loose down the seam and Trenton Bourguet hit him in stride.
·      Frank Darby showed off his physicality, getting off the line in bump and run coverage. He caught a drag route through traffic despite being interfered with.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels Trenton Bourguet/Daylin McLemore
Running Back Rachaad White/DeaMonte Trayanum/Daniyel Ngata  D.J. Taylor
Wide Receiver Frank Darby  Geordon Porter
Wide Receiver Ricky Pearsall/LV Bunkley-Shelton Brandon Pierce/Keith Davis
Wide Receiver Johnny Wilson Andre Johnson
Tight End Curtis Hodges/Case Hatch John Stivers/Nolan Matthews/Kyle Horn
Left Tackle Kellen Diesch Ralph Frias
Left Guard Dohnovan West Jacob Nunez
Center Cade Cote Jarrett Bell
Right Guard Henry Hattis Ben Bray
Right Tackle LaDarius Henderson/Ben Scott


  • Depth chart is entirely formation-dependent. 


Defensive End Tyler Johnson Stanley Lambert Michael Matus
Defensive Tackle Jermayne Lole Stephon Wright Corey Stephens
Nose Tackle D.J. Davidson T.J. Pesefea
Defensive End Shannon Forman Anthonie Cooper Joe Moore
Linebacker Merlin Robertson Jordan Banks
Linebacker Darien Butler Caleb McCullough
Linebacker Kyle Soelle Will Shaffer Connor Soelle
Cornerback Chase Lucas Timarcus Davis
Nickelback Jordan Clark T Lee
Safety Evan Fields Kejuan Markham K.J. Jarrell
Safety Aashari Crosswell/DeAndre Pierce Cam Phillips Alijah Gammage
Cornerback Jack Jones Macen Williams/Ed Woods


  • Amiri Johnson, Willie Harts, Omarr Norman-Lott were all limited.
  • Depth chart is entirely formation-dependent. 
  • Cooper and Lambert frequently rotate in reps with the first team defensive ends. 


Kick Return Rachaad White Geordon Porter Daniyel Ngata/Jack Jones
Punt Return LV Bunkley-Shelton Jack Jones Rachaad White