Trelon Smith showcased his skills to earn a spot in the ASU football lineup

Smith missed the first three games of the season but is now proving himself on the field

Sophomore running back Trelon Smith appeared in his first game of the season after a three-game absence. Smith’s first game was against one of the strongest Pac-12 defense, No. 11 Washington, but he was able to perform at a high level. 

Smith was suspended for the first three weeks of the season due to a unspecified coach's decision. 

Smith ran for 45 yards on 12 carries as he played against mainly a 10-man front. Smith said his performance knocked away the jitters and butterflies, but he knows that his performance was not his best.


“I felt like I could have done way better especially with the little things like covering the ball and just playing smart,” Smith said. 

Smith fumbled the ball twice, turning it over once to the Huskies. It was the first time in two years that an ASU running back has lost a fumble. 

Running backs coach John Simon said he thought Smith played really well, but the two fumbles were critical in a close lose to Washington. 

“I thought he performed very well, the two fumbles takes away from your performance,” Simon said. “There's no such thing as a (good) performance when you fumble the ball twice." 

Smith started to become a rotation player early in the first quarter after sophomore running back Eno Benjamin carried the ball 10 times. 

“I don't want a running back as a sophomore to end up taking 40 to 50 carries,” Simon said. “I have to make sure he's fresh and ready to go in the fourth quarter."

Benjamin’s rest gave Smith an opportunity to showcase his talent and fight for the backup role after his first game of the season. 

“After missing the last three games, coming back I was a little nervous,” Smith said. “I had the jitters but after my first couple carries, I knocked it off and I plan to do better next week.”

The game plan was to work on the running game early on and allow Benjamin, Smith and redshirt sophomore running back Isaiah Floyd each a chance to get carries. 

“We had a game plan and the game plan was to run power and counter reads, zone,” Smith said.  “It worked out well for us. Actually, it was like they had 10 players instead of 11 because of how far the safety was playing back. That really helped us in the run game.”

The running game seemed like a big focus as the team struggled to find anything on the ground against San Diego State University (36 rush yards). The Washington game was different as the running backs rushed for 164 yards. 

Simon said the game plan every week is to take advantage of what the defense gives the Sun Devil offense. 

“We believe in a team effort,” Simon said. “Whatever presents itself and whatever we perceive to be the weaknesses of the defense, we are going to take advantage of that, running the ball 50 times or throwing the ball 50 times. Whatever we feel is the best game plan to win the game is what we are going to do.”

Oregon State’s defense ranks third worst in Division I football in yards allowed per game. The Sun Devil offense can put up strong numbers, but Smith doesn’t want to underestimate the Beaver’s defense. 

“Oregon State, we can’t underestimate them, they are a good team,” Smith said. “They have nothing to lose and they are going to come here and try to beat us and do anything to beat us.”

Smith said they can't underestimate any team and that his job is to just go in there and do his best.

“We just have to keep our head on a swivel and do what we do best, and that's run the football. We just have to keep in mind that this is a new team and this is a new season.” 

At Monday's press conference, Head Coach Herm Edwards said Smith received more playing time as it pertained to pass blocking. 

"(Trelon knows) the protections a little better," Edwards said. "Running backs have to be able to protect the quarterback."

Smith said pass protection will be a major role for the running backs this week in an effort to protect redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins.

"At practice we were working on picking up the blitzes and knowing where they are coming from," Smith said. 

This matchup against Oregon State will allow the Sun Devil offense to put together an effective passing and running game.

“If you look at what we have done, we’ve had great games passing it, we’ve had great games running it,” Simon said. “Now we just need to keep reaching to find that week where we put the performance of the run game with the pass game.”


Reach the reporter at sbemanue@asu.edu or follow @SebastianEman5 on Twitter. 

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