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Daniels Frustrated After Loss to Washington State

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels turned the ball over twice in the Sun Devils' second straight loss.

Homecoming did not go well for the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-3 overall, 3-2 in Pac-12) on Saturday. A rocky first half chock-full of turnovers and a second half where the scoring came a bit too late gave the Sun Devils their second straight loss.

“We didn't handle adversity well,” head coach Herm Edwards said following the game.

From their first drive, Arizona State faced a barrage of adversity, which eventually they could not overcome, falling 34-21 at the hands of the Washington State Cougars (5-4, 4-2). 

Watching it all unfold in front of him was quarterback Jayden Daniels.

In the loss, Daniels completed 23 of 35 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. But it was his turnovers that stood out above all else. Entering the matchup, Daniels had thrown just three interceptions this season, but by the end of the day he had thrown another two.

Almost every position on offense had a turnover on Saturday. The Sun Devils opened their first two drives with consecutive fumbles. Daniels did not escape the plague of turnovers.

“We talked all week about how Washington State was best in the country forcing fumbles and getting after the football. It was very frustrating as it’s something that we harped on all week,” Daniels said.

On their third possession, Arizona State trailed by only a touchdown. The Sun Devils offense was finally putting together a lengthy drive and seemed to be able to weather the storm. But an interception from Daniels ended a 10-play drive that ate up considerable time on the clock. Washington State took the opportunity to score and lengthened their lead.

The woes continued for Daniels in the third quarter. Following back-to-back defensive stops, it seemed like the Sun Devils could at least put up a fight for a comeback. But instead of throwing the ball away during a scramble, Daniels was picked off and the Cougars answered with a field goal thanks to the newfound opportunity. 

“It was frustrating since we put the defense in a bad position. We can’t expect the defense to hold up for four quarters when we keep giving Washington State the ball, “ Daniels said. “Two of the turnovers are on me and at the end of the day, I have got to play better, the offense has to play better, and it wasn’t good football.”

It was a difficult night apart from the turnovers for the junior quarterback. Daniels was under pressure for most of the night, as the Cougars pass rush had Daniels scrambling away from defenders and unable to make the splashy run plays on which he normally thrives. This also impacted Daniels' ability to rush the ball, earning a mere 31 yards on 10 carries.

Just two games ago, Arizona State was 3-0 against Pac-12 teams. In those games, Daniels rushed for 196 yards and scored three times. Since then he has scored only once and totaled only 63 yards. It is a part of his game that has been taken away for the most part by opposing defenses and has been a major contributor to their losses.

The consecutive losses make the Sun Devils' road to a Pac-12 championship much harder, as their losses to Utah and now Washington State will force ASU to scoreboard watch for most of the season.

“We as the players have to look at ourselves with what type of season we want to have," Daniels said. "We’re 5-3 right now and we know that the South is out of our control, so we have to hope that some of the other teams lose. The Pac-12 championship is not completely out of reach, but at the end of the day we cannot lose any more games. We’re going to have to take the loss and learn from it and see where we go from here.”

Daniels and the Sun Devils will hope to avoid three straight losses when they face the USC Trojans next week at Sun Devil Stadium.