Until Saturday, the most delight that Mike Jones gave Arizona State fans this fall came during the Camp Tontozona scrimmage, when he dropped a long, easy pass — an immediately went down for 10 pushups.
“I had to do it,” Jones said of his self-punishment, which drew laughs and applause from the scrimmage crowd. “Passes like that don’t happen to you on a daily basis. It hit me right in the hands.”
Jones got another chance and a similar pass against Nevada at Sun Devil Stadium, and he got redemption in spectacular fashion. His diving catch of a Rudy Carpenter pass in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter was the first score of his college career.
Jones, a sophomore who had four catches a year ago, extended the ball and cradled his arms under it, preventing it from hitting the ground. Just the kind of playmaking ability Jones vowed to display after an impressive spring practice.
An ankle injury at camp, however, limited him for several days. Jones played in last week’s season-opener against Northern Arizona but did not have a pass thrown in his direction, and Koetter said that he was still not at 100 percent.
Against Nevada, Jones had three catches for 48 yards.
“I’ll be the same guy I was in the spring, or even better,” Jones said. “Get the ball in my hands, and I’ll show you what I can do.”
Defensive end Tranell Morant played his longawaited first game for ASU on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound transfer from Florida had been out with a toe injury.
The junior entered the game in the second quarter and did not record a statistic, though he did provide Nevada’s Jeff Rowe with some resistance when the quarterback rolled out to the right.
“It was very frustrating (being out),” said Morant, a projected starter before the season. “I worked with our trainers and took antiinflammatory medicine every day. All I could do was sit and rest and wait.”
Nevada invested a lot of energy and emotion in last week’s game against WAC rival Fresno State, a 28-19 loss. Such a situation can be a setup for trouble for the following weeks if there is not much left in the tank — Fresno State’s aftermath after last year’s USC game, for example.
Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault rejected that notion, however.
“I would like to think that anyone who is competitive looks at this game against Arizona State as an opportunity,” Ault said beforehand. “I would be bitterly, bitterly disappointed if our players are not ready to play this football game.
“(Last week) was a tough loss, no question about it. But that’s behind us, and we have to look forward.”
Tight end Zach Miller’s touchdown reception in the first quarter was the 11th of his career, tying him for the school record for tight ends with Joe Petty (1970-72).
It was also the 100th career catch for Miller, a junior who finished with five receptions for 53 yards. . . .
Linebacker Robert James, a former starter who fell on the depth chart since spring practice due to injuries and family-related absences, had one of his best games as a Sun Devil. The sophomore had six tackles, two for losses, and a sack.