Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong is already off to one of the best starts in school history. The impact JC transfer has 42 catches for 678 yards and four touchdowns. He's one of just four Pac-12 receivers averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game. He took a few minutes this week to chat about the upcoming game against Washington, his impact on the team and just who is the biggest joker on the Sun Devils' squad.
Coming in, did you expect to make the kind of impact you are having so far?
Jaelen Strong: I wouldn’t say I predicted it. But I knew if I worked hard I knew that good things would happen.
How does someone from Philadelphia get to Arizona State by way of Los Angeles?
JS: I went to a junior college in LA and then after that I received a lot of offers and Arizona State showed the most interest. I knew it would be the right fit for me. I had a friend, Gerald Bowman who is over at USC right now, he took that route to Pierce College first. I heard about it through him and I felt like maybe I could follow him out there and start over out there.
How fun is this offense?
JS: It’s real fun, but at the same time, it’s challenging. It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you in the game no matter what the score is because it’s a high-octane offense. The coaches do a great job preparing us and it’s an exciting offense for the fans and the crowd.
It’s been a pretty up-and-down year for you guys. How has the team handled the roller coaster?
JS: We can’t dwell on losses and we can’t dwell on the wins either. We expect them to happen. We just have to come and prepare every week for the next game. The coaches do a good job of not letting us dwell on anything. Win or lose. We’re always trying to focus on the future.
Did you feel like you were prepared for the type of defenses you were going to see in the Pac-12. Are they what you expected?
JS: They are exactly what I expected. I knew there were going to be some tough ones. If you aren’t on your Ps and Qs, you’re going to get exposed. It’s all about technique at this level. It’s not so much about talent and skill. At this point, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. Everybody is good. So you have to beat everybody with your brain and not necessarily your talent or your skill.
What has the relationship been like with quarterback Taylor Kelly. That back-shoulder pass has become somewhat of a signature move for you guys. What’s it like building a relationship with him in such a short amount of time?
JS: Taylor does a great job at practice. He works hard and he’s very focused. He’s intensely focused. He gives me a chance to catch the ball. We don’t really call it the back shoulder. He just puts it up there and I go get it.
A big game coming up this weekend with Washington. Do you guys get the sense that this game could shape the landscape of the league?
JS: It’s a very big game. Both teams know it. The outcome could determine the future of both programs this year. If we win this game, that could determine a lot. Maybe our place in the Pac-12 championship and maybe the Rose Bowl. We just have to go out and prepare and work like it’s a championship game.
What do you see from Washington’s defense on film?
JS: They are very physical. Very feisty. They do a great job technique wise. They play the pass well, but they can also come downhill and stop the run. You have to be just as physical -- more physical -- to pull this one out this weekend. That’s what it’s going to take.
Who would you say is the biggest practical joker on the team?
JS: Chris Young. He’s just always doing something to keep a smile on everyone’s face. He’s always goofing around. No matter what the situation is, he’s doing something to make you laugh and make you smile.