TEMPE – With all eyes on University of Florida transfer Emory Jones, Arizona State kicks off the 2022 season Thursday against Northern Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium.
After a chaotic off-season that included the departure of quarterback Jayden Daniels to LSU, speculation began about the future of head coach Herm Edwards. It would surely help the coach’s cause to find the right replacement.
University of Alabama transfer Paul Tyson and returning junior Trenton Bourguet were leading candidates for the starting job, but an underwhelming performance in spring ball prompted Edwards to return to the transfer portal.
Luckily, he came upon Jones, who passed for 2,734 yards with 19 touchdowns last season with the Gators. Although Jones did not arrive in Tempe until the summer, his experience, arm accuracy and rushing capabilities won him the job.
“He is a very energetic guy,” Edwards said. “He has really excellent arm velocity and can throw the ball from different spots.”
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior, also ran for 759 yards and four touchdowns last season, making him the dual-threat replacement ASU fans hope to see. Despite the pressure associated with being the Sun Devils’ starting quarterback, Jones remains poised.
“Growing up, it was just my mom and me. She honestly gets all of the credit for being the person I am today,” Jones said. “She has been through a lot of stuff, and seeing how she maneuvers and makes sure I’m taken care of made me the person I am today.”
As a high profile quarterback, Jones has always had a tremendous weight on his shoulders. With a theme of anxiousness expressed several times during ASU’s preseason press conferences, the weight just got heavier.
“There’s a lot of anxiety on this team right now about wanting to play a football game,” Edwards said. “Some new coaches, they have some anxiety as well. I think it’s a unique situation for all of us to come home, play in our stadium, but we’re going to have to play good as soon as the ball is kicked.”
Sun Devil Nation, let’s ride ? pic.twitter.com/nGUTcuDkGS
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) September 1, 2022
Last season, ASU averaged 78 penalty yards per game. Fouls and defensive pressure forced Daniels to make crucial mistakes. With only two returning starters on the offensive line, senior left guard LaDarius Henderson and junior center Ben Scott, it will be paramount for Jones to remain calm.
“We can’t get into what we got into last year, a game that was marred by us, by penalties. We got ourselves in a bad way with penalties, and we turned the ball over,” Edwards said. “The turnovers and the fouls just extend the game and put yourself in a bad way.”
The Sun Devils last played the Lumberjacks in 2016, winning 44-13. They have put up double-digits on the scoreboard in their last 75 home games, tying them for the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. Expectations are high for Jones.
“We’ve been improving every day,” the quarterback said. “We’ve been building this team chemistry and becoming closer as a team, and that’s mainly what I’m excited about. I’m really excited to see my teammates go out there and do whatever they have to do and make a play.”