Sun Devils’ Jayden Daniels continues to mature as season progresses
If you didn’t already know who Jayden Daniels was, you do now.
The Arizona State Sun Devils freshman starting quarterback is coming off of the best performance of his young college career.
Daniels went 22-for-32 (69%) and tossed for 408 yards and three touchdown passes in Saturday’s 31-28 upset win over then-No. 6 Oregon.
“He throws the ball really well on the move and then he has that threat with his feet,” ASU offensive coordinator Rob Likens said.
“He has a really good sense of timing on the run to bait guys up and when to run, when to throw over their head. He does that really well.”
Arizona State came into Saturday’s contest on a four-game losing streak after starting the season 5-1 and ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25.
And as if hosting the Pac-12 North champion in front of a national TV audience wasn’t enough pressure already, the Sun Devils needed just one win from their last two games to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive year of the Herm Edwards era.
But the national spotlight didn’t phase Daniels. In fact, the added weight on the shoulders of the young quarterback seemed to propel his level of play.
“If it was somebody else, maybe. He’s just a different kid,” Likens said of Daniels’ composure under pressure. “He’s really grounded. I don’t worry about him being overconfident. I think games like that give him more confidence and I think he gets into an even better mindset. He’s kind of special in that way.
“That tells you a little bit about him, his character and his maturity at the age that he is. A lot of kids — 18 years old or 19 — that might’ve been a lot of pressure on them. But he was laughing in the game and just smiling. That’s just who he is. The moment is never too big for him.”
Through 10 games in a Sun Devil uniform, Daniels has thrown for 2,644 yards (ASU freshman record), 17 touchdowns and a mere two interceptions while adding 257 yards and three scores on the ground.
And in his last three games, the freshman quarterback is averaging a per-game stat line of 22-for-32 (69%) for 336 yards, three touchdowns passes and one rushing score.
“I think it’s just more maturity, taking care of things and not panicking when things go wrong,” senior center Cohl Cabral said of Daniels. “Just taking what’s given to him and making the best of the opportunity every time the ball is in his hands.
“The balls he was throwing up (vs. Oregon on Saturday) — there’s some [guts] on the kid to go out and throw some of the balls that he had.”