ASU football’s Jaelen Strong excited to mentor young crop of receivers

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong looks to cut upfield in Thursday's season opener vs. Weber State. (Photo by Sean Logan)

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong looks to cut upfield in Thursday’s season opener vs. Weber State. (Photo by Sean Logan)

In just one half against Weber State on Thursday, redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong put up about two games worth of numbers for a lot of receivers in college football.

Strong’s 146 yards on 10 catches in the first half outperformed Weber State’s entire total offense up to that point.

The bulk of the Sun Devil offense in the first half went through Strong and junior running back D.J. Foster. 14 of redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly’s 18 first half passes went to either Strong or Foster, along with 13 of the 20 backfield touches going to Foster.

Strong says to expect more of the same during the season until opposing teams learn to stop it.

“The offense will look like that if the defense doesn’t do anything about it, I can tell you that much,” Strong said. “And if they do try to do things like that you will see what we can do with other guys like Gary Chambers, Fred [Gammage], Cam [Smith], Ronald [Lewis], EJ (Ellis Jefferson).”

Chambers, the redshirt junior from Glendale, caught his first career reception for an eight-yard touchdown in the first quarter and hauled in a 38-yard grab late in the second quarter on third down to preserve what would end up being a scoring drive.

Strong would be held out of the second half and Foster would only carry the ball two more times, though one went for a spectacular 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Leading up to the season opener, head coach Todd Graham had been talking about how he wants his offense to be even faster than they were last season, and we were given a taste of that against Weber State. Despite possession being nearly 50-50 after the first half, ASU ran 18 more plays on offense than the Wildcats.

However, Strong says the pace of the offense isn’t where it needs to be following the 45-14 win.

“We shouldn’t expect to be at our fastest,” Strong said. “We probably won’t get the hang of everything until week three, week four. That’s when our schedule gets picked up so I’m fine with that.”

Strong went on to say that even though he thought they had a good game offensively against Weber State, they left about 28 points on the field.

ASU is now looking forward to perhaps its first real test of the season, apologies to Weber State, in a road game against New Mexico.

Although the Lobos went just 3-9 last season and opened up this year’s campaign with a loss against UTEP, Strong says ASU has to take every game seriously.

“We can’t take anyone lightly, regardless of where they are and where they come from,” Strong said. “They are a Mountain West team, and the Mountain West is known to compete, so we gotta get out there and compete.”

Reach the reporter at hkossodo@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @HKossodo