Football turns attention to aggressive Arizona State

first_imgTal Volk | Daily TrojanSecond time around · ASU is expected to dial up blitzes on redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, who will make his home debut.Fresh off a difficult loss at Utah, the Trojans returned to Los Angeles with a 1-3 record and a fresh hunger to secure a victory at home this weekend. The mood at practice was less playful and more focused. Players shouted occasional suggestions or encouragement, but the tone was clearly set — it’s time to for the team to figure itself out.“They really got after it today,” head coach Clay Helton said. “They know that they’ve improved from week to week, from Alabama to Stanford, from Stanford to Utah. The last piece is knocking out the little things and to do that the attention to detail has to be done. I think they’re glued in right now.”Aggressive ASUDespite the loss, redshirt freshman Sam Darnold dazzled in his debut as the new starting quarterback for the Trojans, racking up 253 yards and completing 18 of his 26 passes. He rushed 41 yards and ran in a touchdown himself. It was the type of performance that solidified the team’s faith in Helton’s decision to move Darnold to the starting position.“When you have a versatile of a quarterback as Sam with the desire to step up, the desire to play, to want to win, to put out and show and play like he did — he did great,” offensive tackle Zach Banner said. “We as a unit have a lot to work on. We gotta take care of the ball. But I couldn’t be more proud of Sam.”Yet Darnold’s performance wasn’t enough to hold off a fourth-quarter comeback from Utah. After last weekend, Helton put most of his pressure on the offense, which allowed three turnovers and took far less snaps than Utah on Saturday.The upcoming set of teams that the Trojans are slated to play — Arizona State, Colorado, Arizona and California — are known for their up-tempo, aggressive style of play. This weekend, the Sun Devils are expected to blitz early and often, which will force Darnold to prove himself under pressure in the pocket.“Any time you play Coach Graham’s defense, get ready for pressure,” Helton said. “They’re going to blitz, you know it coming in. I would expect that with a young quarterback, he’s chomping on the bit, expecting to pressure.”Banner respondsFormer Trojan running back Lendale White sparred with Banner on Saturday, calling the offensive tackle out on Twitter for shaking opponents’ hands after the loss to Utah.White’s original tweet read, “#73 bra u need to get it together. Big ass teddy bear all u wanna do is shake hands.” The post sparked an argument that lasted through Sunday, with Banner calling White “irrelevant” and White responding with taunts of “teddy bear” and “fake a$& ‘Hollywood’ players” and shooting back an unflattering picture of Banner.After the altercation, Banner removed several of the posts from his Twitter, but not the most recent string, which ended by saying, “You know dam [sic] well that we played our asses off. Mistakes happen, and we can’t change the outcome afterwords [sic]. Grow up man!”White has posted negative tweets about the USC team, and about Banner in particular, several times throughout this season. At practice, Banner was apologetic for how he handled the issue on Twitter, but didn’t back down from defending his team.“I don’t feel dumb for sticking up for my team,” Banner said. “But I feel dumb for doing it on Twitter. I don’t take any words back that I said. That’s locker room talk and that should’ve been said in the locker room. I just don’t want past players shooting down our players.”last_img

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