The 2019 rendition of Arizona State football kicks off tonight at Sun Devil Stadium against Kent State. Under second-year Head Coach Herm Edwards, optimism in Tempe is running high despite some mediocre predictions from those outside the program.
An infusion of speed and talent along with the progression of last year’s starting freshman will be counted on to offset the efforts of the Golden Flashes on both sides of the ball.
It’s finally…GAMEDAY pic.twitter.com/gpt4P3nQBY
— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) August 29, 2019
Let’s take a look at some new ASU components to key in on in tonight’s matchup with Kent State.
A noticeable change on Defense is the move of Sophomore Linebacker Merlin Robertson to the Middle Linebacker position from the outside where he led the team in tackles last season. This will put the 2018 Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in an even better position to make plays by being positioned more centrally in the defensive formation. Robertson is poised to be an even bigger factor this season by operating as the “Quarterback on Defense”.
Another thing to watch is how ASU Defensive Coordinator Danny Gonzalez and D-Line Coach Jamar Cain handle the up-tempo offense of Kent State. The Golden Flashes prefer to snap the ball within 13 seconds of the previous play which could severely disrupt the scheduled rotation of the Sun Devil D-Lineman. Coach Cain has hopes of getting back-ups a similar number of reps as his starters to keep players fresh. However, fatigue may set in if any players are forced into unplanned extended playing time.
Jayden Daniels is one of several prominent true freshmen QBs who'll start the season opener. More on that, and what his HS coach said about his football IQ:
— SunDevilSource.com (@SunDevilSource) August 29, 2019
Sun Devil Nation is well aware that true freshman Jayden Daniels will be the first freshman to open a season at quarterback in Sun Devil history. Although huge things are ultimately expected from the hyper-talented signal-caller, the coaching staff will not put the burden of winning tonight’s game on his shoulders. Conversely, they won’t want him putting the ball in jeopardy.
According to Offensive Coordinator Rob Likens, the Sun Devil offense is blessed with a “Get out of jail free card” in RB Eno Benjamin. Although KSU will stack the box to stop Eno, Arizona State will turn to their veteran offensive front to maintain a successful ground attack.
From DAY ONE this coaching staff set the precedent that they will play whoever gives them the best chance of winning regardless of class. In keeping with this theme, one offensive newcomer who has caught everyone’s eye is Austin, TX native, Freshman receiver Jordan Kerley.
The 6’2″ 184-pound Kerley will contribute to offsetting the void left by N’Keal Harry. He has shown speed, explosiveness, and a route-running ability beyond his years. Watch Kerley’s progression as the game and season progress.
First game of the season tonight! @ASUFootball Y’all boys go ahead and start it off right😤😤
— Keal (@NkealHarry15) August 29, 2019
Intangibles: Transfer Cornerback Jack Jones, a former 5-star recruit who played at USC, has joined the program. Although he hasn’t played since 2017, Jones will certainly bolster the Cornerback depth and may eventually earn starting reps this season. In the meantime, Jones might factor prominently in the return game. Watch out for #21 to see how and when he will be a contributor to the success of this team.
Now we suffer through these last remaining hours before kickoff of the Sun Devils’ 2019 season. #ForksUp