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ASU’s Edwards: Freshman QB Jayden Daniels doing ‘really good things’

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) evades the tackle of California's Cameron Goode in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

As a former defensive player for Cal, Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards has a lot of memories on the field in Berkeley.

On Friday night, Edwards added another one to the memory bank after his team defeated then-No. 15 Cal 24-17. Following the win, ASU reentered the AP Top 25 ranked No. 20.

“We felt this was going to be a game like Michigan State, to be quite honest, it was going to be a slugfest,” Edwards told 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Monday.

Led by freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, the Sun Devils played a total of 29 freshmen against the Golden Bears.

“It feels good until one of them makes an error, and then you go, ‘Oh he’s a freshman,’” Edwards joked. “You can’t get mad at them.”

For Daniels, the errors were minimal on Friday. He completed 14-of-24 passes for 174 yards. His touchdowns were on the ground via running back Eno Benjamin and had no interceptions.

Through the first four games of the season, Daniels completed 85-of-140 passes for 1,247, just second among Pac-12 quarterbacks behind Washington State’s Anthony Gordon.

Edwards said he thinks some people might’ve underestimated how good Daniels is when it comes to using his legs. In Friday’s win, Daniels ran for 84 yards on 12 carries.

“For him, he’s done some really good things, and surprising things that people didn’t realize is that he’s a good runner,” Edwards said.

The more Daniels becomes familiar with his receivers and running backs, like Benjamin, the better he’ll become.

In favoring Benjamin, Daniels handed 29 carries off to him on Friday, which he converted into 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. Edwards said Benjamin is a different personality when he’s playing the game, one that’s that of a driven player.

“Physically, he’s not the biggest guy, but it’s very difficult to bring him down because he has this competitive spirit that drives him,” Edwards said of Benjamin.

Coming into Friday’s game, Edwards knew they’d have to run the ball a lot to keep pace with Cal.

Even when they felt like they were starting to fall behind, like after the Golden Bears’ 12-play drive for 63 yards to start the third quarter, his players kept their heads in it.

Edwards said part of the benefit of having young players is their tendency to trust the plays that Edwards calls when the game is on the line. In that instance, Daniels orchestrated a 50-yard drive on the next possession to tie the game.

“When you look at the players, you see the joy in their eyes and the emotion they have after a win, that’s what I enjoy the most,” Edwards said. “I just kinda sit over in the corner and watch them for about two or three minutes before I call them up and tell them what we have to do and what’s expected going into next week.”

Arizona State’s heading into a bye week this week before they host Washington State Oct. 12 for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

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