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ASU Fan Mailbag: Spring Practice, New Coordinators and More Questions

Donnie Druin answers questions from ASU fans before the start of spring practice.

We're just days away from the Arizona State Sun Devils taking the field for their first day of spring practice, as ASU looks to put an eventful year behind them (on and off the field) in hopes of letting their play do the talking. 

The Sun Devils have a healthy mix of new and returning faces on both sides of the ball, and spring practice will give us a first glimplse of what Arizona State plans to do at key positions.

Thank you to all the questions received, we look forward to doing another ASU football mailbag in the future.

ASU Fan Mailbag: Spring Practice, New Coordinators and More

Paul Tyson

Q: Prediction on who the starting QB will be next year?

A: Winner gets a deal with Venezias!

In all seriousness, it looks like the battle will boil down to Paul Tyson and Trenton Bourguet. Both have very limited experience on the field, but offer different reasons as to why they could command the team in 2022. 

Bourguet has the edge when it comes to experience at Arizona State and chemistry with the offense, although both quarterbacks will be working with a new scheme (we'll get to that here in a second) under recently hired offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas. 

Tyson has the edge when it comes to build (he's listed as 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds on Alabama's site compared to Bourguet's 5-foot-11 and 180-pound measurement on ASU's site) and arm strength. Tyson was also a higher ranked recruit coming out of high school, should you value that. 

This battle is open for the taking, as no passer really has a significant advantage over the other. Spring practice and then preseason work will ultimately dictate who the better passer is. 

Time to stop avoiding your question. If I had to name a starter next season right now, I believe it's Bourguet. 

I watched what I could of Tyson at Alabama and there were a few different traits to like. I think, however, his downfall will be lack of mobility. Tyson struggles to navigate the pocket and stretch plays (it reminds me of Peyton Manning without the Hall of Fame resume'), which I believe will be very costly, especially with Arizona State seeing three starters from the offensive line depart. 

Not saying Bourguet is the next Michael Vick, but Tyson moving out of the pocket is only ideal for defenders who will be able to chase him down with ease. 

I believe ASU opts for a safer, more comfortable option in Bourguet, although it's not exactly a sign of hope that the Sun Devils brought Tyson into the program while Jayden Daniels was still here.

Glenn Thomas

Q: What type of offense and defense do the new coordinators plan on running?

A: That's a great question. I'll try to provide as much as I can because we don't actually know what each coordinator will try to establish.

Glenn Thomas was previously the quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator at UNLV for two seasons prior to taking the job at Arizona State. UNLV ran a pistol offense that ran read-option while Thomas was the offensive coordinator, although from my understanding, that was implemented by head coach Marcus Arroyo. 

While Thomas was at Temple, the Owls found success using a two-running back system that was predicated on playing out of heavy sets that often featured multiple tight ends. That philosophy aligns more with what Arizona State has done on offense in recent years, although it's unclear how much then-head coach Matt Rhule had on influencing that game.

We'll know more in spring practice, but I wouldn't expect drastic changes from Arizona State's offense. The Sun Devils likely won't be running a spread offense that throws for 400 yards per game or involves their quarterback stretching the field horizontally. It's up to Thomas to make the best out of his current roster, however that looks on the field. 

It also is important to note that Brian Billick will also contribute to the building of the offensive plan.

As for defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, I believe he's less likely to orchestrate change. Henderson spent the 2021 season with Arizona State as the interim defensive backs coach while Chris Hawkins was still serving his suspension. 

Arizona State may stick with the 4-3 defense considering Henderson ran that scheme during stints as defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. 

Spring practice will give us a true answer, but it's hard to imagine head coach Herm Edwards drastically changing any of his philosophies on either side of the ball. 


Q: How is Arizona State's receiving corps looking?

A: Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall enters 2022 as the undisputed No. 1 receiver and flashed his excellence before and after the catch on numerous occasions last season. 

LV Bunkley-Shelton looks to be ASU's No. 2 receiver and did make a few flash plays down the field to get fans excited for a potential step up next season. 

Bryan Thompson, who enters his final year with the program after previously playing at Utah, figures to see significant playing time after getting his feet settled with the Sun Devils in 2021. Thompson is a strong jump-ball option for whoever plays at quarterback next season.

Chad Johnson Jr. could be a breakout candidate if he's able to display any of his father's receiving prowess. 

Elijah Badger was rarely used, but was strong with the ball in his hands and would benefit from solidified time at one position, as he bounced between X and Z receiver duties.

The Sun Devils had three receivers depart following the season via the transfer portal: Junior Alexander, Johnny Wilson and Geordon Porter. 

Arizona State has not added any receiving talent through their 2022 recruiting class or the portal, banking on the current group of pass-catchers to step up to the plate next season. 

Khoury Bethley

Q: Who is the most underrated transfer portal addition?

A: A handful of new Sun Devils have the opportunity to make significant contributions next year, but watch out for Hawaii's Khoury Bethley. The former Warriors safety started three seasons at the position for Hawaii and earned first-team All-Mountain West honors last season. 

Arizona State has a need at safety following the departures of DeAndre Pierce and Evan Fields, and Bethley is a strong candidate to fill one of those spots. Bethley has recorded 217 tackles with seven sacks, seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries in his career. 

Chris Martinez

Q: What will the offensive line look like?

A: Arizona State lost three starters across the offensive line heading into spring practice: Tackle Kellen Diesch, center Dohnovan West and guard Henry Hattis. 

The good news is guard LaDarius Henderson and (likely tackle-turned-center) Ben Scott return to ASU to fill two of the three holes in the interior. 

The right guard battle will be something to monitor for the Sun Devils, as several capable bodies hope to fill the vacancy. 

At the moment, transfer Chris Martinez (who started every game for San Diego State last season), promising redshirt freshman Ezra Dotson-Oyetade and senior Spencer Lovell (who played 272 snaps last year) are all strong candidates. 

Tackles Des Holmes (transfer from Penn State), Emmit Bohle (Division II transfer) and Isaia Glass all figure to fight for the starting two spots. 

Spring practice prediction (positions from left to right):

LT: Glass
LG: Henderson
C: Scott
RG: Martinez
RT: Bohle