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ASU football rides hot offensive start, take down Stanford

The Sun Devils played their most complete game of the season against the Cardinal on Friday, winning 28-10

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Graduate student defensive back Jack Jones (0) hypes up the crowd after a touchdown at Sun Devil Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. ASU won 28-10.

ASU football rode a hot offensive first half en route to a comfortable 28-10 victory over Stanford University on Friday night in Tempe. 

The No. 22 Sun Devils played perhaps their most complete game of the season; the offense was generating explosive plays, the defensive was getting big stops and the team didn't commit many penalties.

The Sun Devils bucked a season trend that saw their offense start slow, something junior quarterback Jayden Daniels thought was critical for the team heading into the game.

“It felt good to come out with a fast start," Daniels said. "It’s something that the coaches preach to us in practice and before games. Starting out fast puts ourselves in a good position in the game."

The Sun Devils went up 21-7 early in the second quarter, which allowed them to play a more conservative run-heavy brand of football and remain in control for the rest of the game. 

Daniels followed up a breakout game against UCLA last week with another strong performance Friday, completing 14 of his 23 passes for 175 yards. A highlight for Daniels came on a play in the first quarter where he dropped back, pump-faked a pass and proceeded to run for a season-high 51-yard touchdown untouched.

Daniels' run was a small look into how ASU dominated Stanford on the ground as a team on Friday, rushing for 255 yards as a team. Daniels had 13 carries for 76 yards, while redshirt senior running back Rachaad White had 13 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown to lead the way. 

“We got the win, which for us is all that matters," White said. "We know we have got to do our job as we rotate. Everybody comes in and plays their part in the offense for the running backs to be successful."

One of the main reasons for the success on the ground was the strong performance by the ASU offensive line, who were consistently picking up blocks and creating holes for runners. Daniels says the ASU offense has achieved a nice comfort level together at this point in the season.

"Those five guys are coming along together and you can see they are all on the same page, " Daniels said about the offensive line. "We are all on the same page in the backfield, the linemen, me, the running backs. So we all know the blitzes that they bring so I give all kudos to them.”

Much like the offense, the ASU defense was dominant in all of its position groups on Friday. 

The highlight of the night, and perhaps the season, for ASU's defense came in the third quarter when graduate student defensive back Jack Jones intercepted a pass in Stanford territory and then lateraled the ball to fellow graduate student defensive back DeAndre Pierce, who then ran the ball into the end zone. 

“That kind of stuff you just do on instinct, and I’m glad it worked because if we would have fumbled it, you’d see a mad head coach," ASU head coach Herm Edwards said about the play. "It’s all pretty when it happens and it works, it’s just football. Guys are having fun and it was just a great play on both of them.”

The ASU defensive line did a great job pressuring Stanford and making things challenging, limiting its opponent's rushing attack to just 13 yards on the night. Graduate student defensive lineman Tyler Johnson was one of the key contributors to that success, finishing the night with 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks. 

Penalties and overall sloppiness, things that hindered ASU early in the season, weren't much of a factor on Friday; ASU finished with just five penalties on the night. 

ASU is 3-0 to begin Pac-12 play for the first time in nine years and sits alone atop the Pac-12 South with a 5-1 record on the season.

ASU football will look to stay undefeated in conference play and remain atop the Pac-12 South next week when they travel to Salt Lake City to face off against Utah on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. MST.

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