ASU Football: Arizona State Freshman Benefiting Most From Delayed Season

Donnie Druin

If everything went to plan, over 20 members of Arizona State’s 2020 class would now have a few weeks of football under their belt heading into the last weekend of September. However, COVID-19 took every Pac-12 fan’s hopes of a full football season to the woodchipper after a handful of delays and an ultimate decision to cancel fall sports seasons within the conference.

For players wanting to reach the next level and play professionally, the loss of a season likely hurts their chances of improving their draft stock, especially while being forced to watch players in other conferences such as the ACC, Big 12 and SEC carry forward with play on the weekends. Players such as ASU’s Frank Darby come to mind, who many believe would have excelled in a full season’s worth of games as a number one receiver.

Yet, for the incoming freshman, a unique opportunity presented itself. Following the Pac-12’s initial decision to cancel fall sports, I spoke with ASU co-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and gathered his thoughts on how the team could benefit from the break-in action. Lewis offered the following:

“It’s slowed down time to teach them (the players) the concepts of why things are the way they are, the things that you do on defense, where the strengths/weaknesses are and get them to really understand (the defense),” said Lewis.

“Particularly for the freshmen, we have a number of freshmen who only joined us in June. So, the opportunity to further their knowledge of the game of football and maybe have them better prepared, and there’s no question physically the development they can have over the coming months. I think in every way, we’ve got to use this and be excited about it.”

In most years, a freshman coming onto a division one football field straight out of high school may feel unconfident or overwhelmed in their ability to complete an assignment or carry out a game plan. Yet in a COVID-19 world, the break-in football has bought freshmen more time to physically and mentally play catch-up to their counterparts.

There is no arguing that true game reps are the best way to learn, as real experience will be the best teacher for young players still adjusting to the collegiate level.

Yet on the eve of a possible announcement welcoming Pac-12 football back, ASU freshman are already at an advantage over previous classes. When cleats finally meet grass, the class of 2020 will be more familiar with schemes/plays thanks to plentiful extra weeks of learning, while also being more physically prepared to carry out those tasks against a new level of competition.

There are no winners from COVID-19 and its invasion into football season. However, we can pin ASU’s incoming (and talented) class of freshmen as the main beneficiaries of an extended offseason.