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ASU football dominates despite sloppiness in 2021 opener

The ASU running game accounted for all six Sun Devil touchdowns against Southern Utah

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ASU sophomore running back DeaMonte Trayanum (1) crosses into the endzone, scoring the first touchdown of the season on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. ASU won 41-14.


ASU football blew out Southern Utah University, 41-14 on Thursday night, but despite the victory, head coach Herm Edwards couldn't move past his team's lack of discipline in the game. 

The Sun Devils constantly beat themselves, finishing with 13 penalties on the night, 11 of which came in the first half, resulting in 135 penalty yards for their opponent.

"It was bad football, it was sloppy football, it was embarrassing football to be quite honest," Edwards said. "When we stop playing the Sun Devils because they are not on our schedule, we might have a chance to be a pretty good football team, but tonight we were not. We were too emotional." 

In the first half, there was a stretch where it seemed like there was a penalty flag on the field just about every snap. All facets of the game, offense, defense and special teams, contributed multiple times each to ASU's overall penalty count.

Edwards said seeing Sun Devil Stadium with a lot of fans for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic played into his team being emotionally reckless at times during the game. 

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"I've always said you don't want to be an emotional team, you want to be a passionate team," Edwards said. "We were a very sloppy football team, and our emotions got the best of us at times. And we gotta get that corrected."

Junior quarterback Jayden Daniels echoed Edwards' comments regarding the team's lack of discipline on Thursday, citing their inferior opponent as a primary reason the penalties didn't come back to bite them. 

"We were a better team than Southern Utah," Daniels said. "But at the end of the day, if we play Washington or USC those teams would kill us in the future, so we've just got to clean up the little things. If we want to fulfill our dreams to win a Pac-12 championship, we can't have that many penalties."

Junior wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who had perhaps the play of the night when he scored on a 26-yard end-around touchdown, repeated the sentiment about the unacceptable nature of the penalties.

“Obviously, it was a sloppy outcome with the penalties, although we still put 41 on the board with that many penalties," Pearsall said. "But it was killing some of our drives and we can’t have that going forward. Obviously, there were some positive plays that came out of it with the run game.”


Daniels was solid but unspectacular Thursday, finishing the night 10-12 with 132 yards on the night, before exiting for the rest of the game in the third quarter due to cramps.

Daniels didn't need to do much with his arm on Thursday because the running offense for the Sun Devils was able to consistently gash the Southern Utah defense. Redshirt senior Rachaad White had seven carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore DeaMonte Trayanum had six carries for 52 yards with two touchdowns, as well. 

White and Trayanum were two of ASU's most productive offensive players in the shortened 2020 season, and they continued that trend again in their first 2021 outing.

White, who transferred to ASU from a junior college in 2020 was a bit more excited than Edwards and Daniels following the game. Not only did White have a strong performance, but he did it in front of the biggest crowd he'd ever seen.

"That's my first time ever seeing that many people,” White said. “With them making all that noise you realize it, I'm just grateful to be in this position.”

The official 44,456 fans in attendance were the biggest crowd at an ASU sporting event since Nov. 30, 2019, when the Sun Devils beat UA, 24-14 in the Territorial Cup. 

Edwards reiterated he was happy the team still won the game despite its undisciplined showing but mentioned he was eager to flush this performance down the drain. 

"We ended up winning, but with that being said, there's a lot of things we have to improve on," Edwards said. "I might not even go home. I might just watch the tape tonight and get it out of my system."


Reach the reporter at ltochter@asu.edu and follow @Leo_Toch on Twitter.

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