QB Emory Jones was traded from Florida and immediately won ASU’s starting QB job. He’s had his ups and downs this season – for one, he threw for over 1,000 yards with a respectable 62% completion rate, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. On the other hand, he has only 4 touchdowns for 3 interceptions and has been sacked 14 times, which says as much about him as it does about the Sun Devil’s offensive line.
At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he has exceptional athleticism (although not quite as sneaky as DTR) which he uses to escape the rush and pick up positive yardage on scrambles. He has a strong arm and is a good passer when rolling or on bootlegs. Like many quarterbacks, he can struggle when asked to stand in the pocket and read his progress.
His main target is the 6-2 Elijah Badger, who could become the best Sun Devil WR since Brandon Aiyuk. Last season he took two of his three rushing attempts for touchdowns and can be dangerous with the ball in his hands. They haven’t given him the rushing attempts this year, but he’s the center point of the passing game with 24 receptions. The next best receiver is experienced senior WR Giovanni Sanders with 13 catches.
Jones’ biggest weapon is RB Xazavian Valladay, a leaner running back at 6-0 and 200 pounds with a good burst and smooth acceleration. He has a bit of an underhandedness on the open field and is a positive receiver for a running back, making him a threat on third downs. He’s not at his best as a physical runner between tackles, but he can rush through openings on the offensive line.
Valladay is a player they will move around to get hits any way they can. So far it’s working, with 455 yards (6.2 YPA) and 5 touchdowns. RB Daniyel Ngata is getting far fewer rushing attempts (26 to Valladay’s 73) but is averaging just under 6 yards per carry himself.
The system of government
Numbers-wise, ASU passes the ball 56% of the time and has gained 70% of its yards for the season through the air. As much as they feed Valladay, they have Emory Jones throw down and over the middle.
Most plays are either quick passes, zone reads, or they have Jones throwing on the move. This offense is probably the most diverse and multiple Washington has seen all year, and will need to be prepared for shotgun zone reads, the pistol, and plenty of pre-snapshot moves. It’s also not uncommon to see them go under the center and feed Valladay to take advantage of his cutting ability. They also staged traditional game action from I-formations.
Despite being a creative, multi-pronged offense that can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, Arizona State has been a mess and is only scoring 23 points per game. Too many fumbles, errors and penalties (this is one of the most penalized teams in the country) nullifies any positive momentum. Unsurprisingly, they largely avoided those things in their excellent first half against USC. By large, I mean 17 points.
This offense has struggled all season to get off to a quick start, and the first-quarter touchdown against USC was the first time they scored a first-quarter touchdown all year. They weren’t perfect, but Jones threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, with 7.6 yards per attempt. Valladay kept the Trojans off balance with timed dart runs up the field plus a 29-yard touchdown. Badger was quiet but 6-3 WR Bryan Thompson had something of a breakout game with 5 receptions for 86 yards, which is nearly all of his production for the season.
Herm Edwards is out and former running backs coach Shane Aguano is the interim head coach. He allowed his team to perform admirably against USC and even though Arizona State’s season could be completely lost, this offense could come into shape at the wrong time for UW.