Jacob Conover has been in this situation before.

Two years ago, he made his collegiate debut in BYU’s 34-20 win over Utah State when quarterback Baylor Romney, filling in for an injured Jaren Hall, was also hurt late in the second quarter.

Conover entered the game for the Cougars in the second half and completed 5 of 9 passes for 45 yards as BYU relied on its running attack to lead the team to the victory.

The former consensus four-star quarterback recruit never found a real foothold in Provo, though, even after being the team’s backup last year, and after the 2022 season, he transferred to hometown Arizona State.

Last week, the Sun Devils called on their fourth-string quarterback when the Sun Devils, who were already missing starting true freshman Jaden Rashada due to injury, watched two other quarterbacks leave their game against Fresno State with injuries of their own.

Conover, like quarterbacks Drew Pyne and Trenton Bourguet before him, struggled against the Bulldogs after entering the game in the second half, completing 6 of 16 passes for 89 yards while throwing two interceptions in the eventual 29-0 loss. 

“That was not the ideal situation on Saturday but one thing I think the team did was show resilience,” Conover told reporters Tuesday, per 247 Sports’ Sun Devil Source. “We didn’t give up towards the end, even though it wasn’t the (result) people wanted or we wanted.”

He was sacked twice, and Conover’s two interceptions were a part of eight turnovers for Arizona State in a frustrating loss to Fresno State.

Going from fourth string to playing so quickly helped reiterate a valuable lesson for Conover.

“There’s blessings in disguise, but it just shows that you always need to be ready,” he said. “The moment I think I’m slacking, that’s just a gut check that you always got to stay prepared no matter what happens. Because at the moment you least expect it, your number’s going to be called.” 

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Conover was also able to rely on that experience at BYU, when he was asked to quarterback the Cougars during the second half of their win over Utah State two years ago in his only other significant college action.

“We had kind of a similar situation — the starter was out the week before, the backup got hurt at halftime and I came it. That’s how it played my sophomore year at BYU,” he said.

“Having that helped me get an advantage to always prepare like I’m going to be playing on the field.”

Given the injuries to Rashada, Pyne and Bourguet, the Sun Devils could be turning to the Chandler, Arizona, native again this season. Up next for Arizona State is a Saturday night matchup against No. 5 USC and reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams.

“Every one of us needs to train like we’re the starter,” said the redshirt sophomore Conover, who received second-team reps behind Pyne during practice Tuesday, according to Sun Devil Source’s Chris Karpman.

“That’s what makes a good QB room. Each of us is trying to make each other better each and every day. Whoever gets their name called on Saturday is going to be ready, and the guy behind them will also be ready. I think moving forward, that shows that each and every guy is going to get their name called at some point.”

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The redshirt junior Bourguet got the start against Fresno State but exited the game early after injuring his left leg, according to Arizona Sports, while Pyne, a transfer from Notre Dame, spelled him before leaving with a muscular injury in the third quarter.

Rashada was also out, and he’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an unspecified injury that dates back to his high school days, according to ESPN.

Where does that leave Conover?

First-year Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham told reporters Tuesday that Pyne probably will return for the game against USC, while Bourguet is doubtful.

“So obviously Drew has a chance, probably will return this week,” he said, per Sun Devil Source. He added with those players who are dealing with injuries like ankles and tweaks, “We won’t really know until Thursday or Friday” regarding their availability for this week’s game. 

During his Monday press conference, Dillingham said he has faith in Conover if he ends up playing in what would be considered less-than-ideal circumstances.

A day later, Dillingham expounded on what he saw from Conover during Tuesday’s practice.

“He actually threw the ball better than he has in the past. His release was a lot that what he’s shown in the past. He was getting on top of a lot of his throws,” the coach said.

Regarding Conover’s performance in last week’s game, Dillingham said, “He did a nice job with the plays he knew from spring and the beginning of fall camp. The game plan stuff was a little more difficult, not getting the reps. I thought he did a really nice job with the plays that are there.”

Conover said his biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s practice was being able to slow down the game, as he got more reps with other quarterbacks injured.

“In all reality, we’re in control,” he said.

The fact that Arizona State is facing one of the nation’s best teams — and the reigning Heisman champion — this weekend doesn’t change that preparation for Conover.

“We’re going to prepare just like any other week,” he said. “I think this team’s going to do a good job showing resilience and fighting against adversity.”