Quarterback Jayden Daniels has a quiet, but effective debut for Sun Devils

The dual-threat quarterback had freshman moments, but his mature ball security shined

ASU's 30-7 win over Kent State on Thursday night showcased the quiet, but nevertheless, impactful debut of true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels.

While it was the Sun Devils' defense that led the way, forcing five fumbles and holding the Golden Flashes to 200 total yards, Daniels led the offense to all three of their touchdowns, throwing two of them and running in for another.

Daniels completed 15 of 24 passes for 284 yards including a 77-yard catch and run from senior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. He also helped himself on the ground, rushing for 13 yards on multiple scrambles to avoid pressure.

The four-star prospect out of Cajon High School seemed to keep the game under control. He often used his feet to go deep into plays and to avoid the pass rush. But when he could neither throw nor run away, he took sacks instead of throwing ill-advised passes.

"He did not have any foolish turnovers," offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. "I thought he did very well securing the football; sometimes taking the sack, and he threw a couple of them away."

The quarterback admitted to having first game jitters, but knew it would go away once the first whistle was blown.

"Yeah of course, going out of the tunnel," Daniels said. "But after the first snap, I was fine."

Daniels was also not afraid to occasionally test the defense, throwing a few high balls and sometimes throwing into tight windows. While most of those passes fell incomplete, Likens would like to utilize Daniels' arm more and continue to test opposing defensive backs.

"We probably should've taken some more chances down the field deep and back some guys off," Likens said. "And make plays. That's what we got to do."

When asked about how Daniels performed, head coach Herm Edwards admitted he had no expectations of perfection.

"(With) a freshman quarterback... offense was kind of up and down," Edwards said regarding what Daniels' performance looked like. "I knew it was going to look like that; I wasn't surprised."

Similarly to Likens, Edwards praised Daniels for his composure throughout a game that featured highs and lows from an offensive standpoint.

"He's got composure," Edwards said. "He never panicked. Just came back with a smile on his face and kept playing."

While the offense was trimmed down, according to Likens, Daniels continuously displayed his ability to use his feet to extend and make plays at the cost of some off-balanced throws. 

The greatest ability Daniels showed was his ability to secure the football. Taking sacks instead of giving the ball away will limit the chances for the opposition to score while putting them in worse field position when they do receive the ball.

Going forward, Daniels believes he and the rest of his team have many things to improve upon.

"... I can't be too content with the win," Daniels said. "Myself, the receivers, running backs, the whole offense has to improve upon a lot of things."

Reach the reporter at jhorst2@asu.edu and follow @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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