Posted on November 13, 2020
On Friday morning, the news broke that several ASU players and head coach Herm Edwards had tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the cancellation of the Cal game on Saturday.
That, and last week’s disappointing loss to USC aside, Arizona State football would still appear to be on the cusp of being legit.
But what do we know?
Jayden Daniels, whom many have dubbed the second-best Conference quarterback next to Kedon Slovis, was the difference-maker ASU needed for 58 minutes against USC.
So, what went wrong for the Devils in the last two minutes?
• An onside kick that was first touched by the Devils hands team and recovered by the Trojans. At this point in the game, the term “here we go again” was felt across the entire room.
• A defense that had held USC’s Air Raid offense to 13 points for almost the entire game, looked sloppy and undisciplined and could not seem to get a stop when it mattered most.
With all the bumps along the way, Daniels got the ball and one timeout with over a minute to go. The Sun Devils only needed a field goal, but ended up not converting on a key fourth-and-10 near midfield.
The first lesson we learned is that Edwards’ game management did not work. He has been given credit for this so often against teams like Michigan State, but a 13 point lead with under 3 minutes to go should have been no problem.
During a portion of the second half, ASU ran 20 plays—19 of them running plays, and one a successful field goal. The field goal would be the last points of the game for the Devils.
The run game was the reason ASU was leading for a majority of the second half. Although Daniels was inaccurate through the air, completing only 11 passes on 23 attempts, his ability to run the ball changed the dynamic of ASU’s offense.
USC was wary of Daniels’ legs all game, which set up a simple Rachaad White swing pass, and he took it 55 yards to the house.
The second lesson is that Daniels is ready to be that guy. He completed over 60% of his passes last year, so the inaccuracy should not be something to worry about as of yet. Daniels picked up 111 yards on only 11 carries, leading the Sun Devils in rushing yards for the day.
His ability to run the ball will only prove more effective when it’s also coupled with his normal passing accuracy. He could not get it done late, but we saw him do that time and time again last year, which does not make it seem like the moment got to him.
The third lesson is that these two young running backs are going to play a huge role in this offense moving forward. It would have been difficult to imagine before the game that Frank Darby would have one reception for two yards, yet the Devils would be in control for almost the entire game.
Most fans wouldn’t have given the Sun Devils a chance with all the questions on offense.
DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum and Rachaad White made huge impacts, with Trayanum rushing for two touchdowns, and White taking 55 yard pass to the house. It was almost as if Eno Benjamin never left, and what the Devils lost with his departure, they regained with a pair of skilled backs.
The last nugget we learned last week was that this defense has the ingredients to become a stifling group. Despite a dropped interception that could have turned the tide, they logged three fumble recoveries, including one on their own 1-yard line.
Although the kingdom collapsed in the end, holding the Trojan Air Raid to one touchdown and two field goals for 58 minutes was no easy task, and one that needs to be recognized.
While USC looked sloppy for much of the game, this USC team may ultimately live up to its preseason hype, as the Conference’s best College Football Playoff hope, outside of Oregon. ASU seemed to be the better team for much of the game.
If not for a tipped touchdown pass, and onside kick recovery, the Devils might have run away with the game.
USC would have to lose two more games for the Sun Devils to win the South, but if the Trojans play the way they did for 3.5 quarters against the Devils, ASU might not be out of the race just yet.
—Recent Wills Rice Stories—
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