ASU Football stresses importance of communication to offense

Transfer quarterback Blake Barnett reportedly left Alabama due to a lack of communication

New ASU Football quarterback Blake Barnett, a former five-star recruit and recent transfer from the University of Alabama, knows something about the importance of communication. 

In an interview with Kyle Bonagura of ESPN, the redshirt sophomore said a lack of communication on the part of head coach Nick Saban led him to leave the Crimson Tide.

Barnett thought he would be the starter last season. According to the ESPN report, Saban told Barnett there would be zone-read packages designed for another Alabama quarterback, Jalen Hurts, but Barnett did not need to worry about playing time.

However, after two series as the starter in Alabama’s season opener against USC, Barnett was replaced by Hurts. Hurts went on to throw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns as a true freshman. With the 19-year-old Hurts leading the way, Alabama went on to lose 35-31 to Clemson in the College Football National Championship Game.

Barnett told ESPN he believed the plan was to play Hurts all along and expressed his frustration over the situation.

"According to him, I was their guy," Barnett said. "Once Jalen went in, I was expecting it. But then he went out on the next series, the next series and the next series. I don't know if everything was communicated correctly."

Nobody really knows what happened between Barnett and Saban. However, it is clear Barnett thought a lack of communication existed.

Regardless, Barnett has moved on from what happened at Alabama. Last Saturday, after the annual scrimmage at Camp Tontozona, he said he fits right in at ASU.

“I love where I am at right now,” Barnett said. “The offense has been an easy transition because he took stuff from Alabama. Everybody had to learn the same amount of stuff.”

Fellow quarterback Manny Wilkins said communication is critical. The redshirt junior said the skill is especially crucial when learning the playbook early in camp.

“It is very important,” Wilkins said. “We're doing a lot of things differently communication wise. It is faster, more efficient and guys are kind of just picking everything up and rolling. I am excited.”

Besides the ability to communicate with teammates and coordinators, Wilkins said being able to communicate effectively with the head coach is important. He said his relationship with head coach Todd Graham is in a great place.

“Very good,” Wilkins said. “It is just a level of respect thing. If he is going to show respect to me, I am going to respect him back. I think things will work out really well. So, I am excited for what comes. This team is extremely talented. It is all about putting the pieces to the puzzle together.”

In addition, co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Rob Likens said effective communication between the wideouts and the quarterbacks is crucial for an offense to succeed.

“We’re working on that,” Likens said. “That is a daily thing that when you’re doing some of the things we’re doing. Staying after practice, doing quick game, getting your timing down. The summer was a big part of that. You can tell they are on a whole new level from the spring. They did a really good job of running routes themselves and getting their timing down.”

As far as the quarterback competition, Graham has said that Manny Wilkins is the front runner until he gets beat.

But, the fact that Wilkins is the incumbent will not change Barnett’s mentality heading into the season.

“I am not in the position to make any decisions as far as how my role or Manny’s role is going to be different on this team,” Barnett said. “My job is just to come out here every day, do the best I can and try to make the biggest impact on this team on and off the field. Do as much as I can, be the best leader I can be."


Reach the reporter at jjacquez@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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