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ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels talks about physicality, Zak Hill’s offense

Quarterback Jayden Daniels #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils scrambles with the football against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half of the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels is confident he’ll avoid a sophomore swoon on the field this season.

Daniels threw for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019, guiding the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record.

Daniels, speaking with members of the media via Zoom, said he believes the Sun Devils’ offense can unlock its utmost potential under first-year offensive coordinator Zak Hill, who arrived in Tempe from Boise State during the offseason.

The sophomore is confident in ASU’s offense is heading in the right direction, ahead of the team’s opener against USC on Nov. 7, but believes there’s work to be done in the interim.

“As far as the offense right now, I wouldn’t say I’m very content with where we’re at physically. I feel like we could be more physical up front,” Daniels said. “I know that we’re going to get to that point.”

Daniels said he feels more mature and confident heading into this year’s season opener against the Trojans, versus where he was when he made his Pac-12 debut against Colorado in September of 2019.

“I wouldn’t say that I feel older but I do feel like I’m more mature having the playing experience last year on the offensive side,” Daniels said.

Daniels discussed the team’s evolving quarterback room, with Joey Yellen transferring to Pittsburgh in January, to go with Ethan Long and Dillon Sterling-Cole.

He’s confident that he and backup Trenton Bourguet have the type of camaraderie needed to bolster the Sun Devils’ chances in the Pac-12’s south division.

“Trenton is the type of person that’s going to know the details of everything that’s happening,” Daniels said. “And there are times that I go to Trenton to ask questions about the offense and he asks me questions. So we’re just bouncing back ideas off each other and that’s just the relationship that we’ve built.”

“So I know, god willing, that if anything is to happen to me, I know Trenton will fill in that role and do very well for the team.”

Daniels has been impressed with the physicality that the Sun Devils’ defense has played with, under co-defensive coordinators Antonio Pierce and Marvin Lewis.

That physicality in practice is crucial, according to Daniels, because it helps the team get into game shape faster.

“The coaches preach that every day, that the most physical team wins,” Daniels said. “There are times that the defense comes and punches us in the mouth. So we just have to bounce back and we have to go harder and that’s what I think we did today.”

“The other day, the defense punched us in the mouth with the physicality, so we came back today.”

It remains to be seen whether Daniels and his teammates’ physicality will pay dividends come Nov. 7.

For now, the sophomore is focused solely on getting himself and his teammates in the best position possible to succeed when the season kicks off.

Daniels has been spending the duration of the Pac-12’s football delay doing what he loves most.

“I’m always watching football,” Daniels said. “I’m watching film too and staying on top of watching our opponents and communicating with coach Hill.”

In the end, college football players share a lot of similarities to their fellow college students, spending ample time tossing the pigskin around when time allows.

The difference, in Daniels case, is that he can play catch with sophomore wideout Geordon Porter.

“And then staying on top with my receivers also. Hitting them up,” Daniels said. “Geordon Porter is my roommate so we’ll go play catch and be able to do those sorts of things to stay prepared for the season.”

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