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Jayden Daniels' Career Day Showed Dynamic Running Capability

When it comes to running the ball, Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels showed the game-changing possibilities he has after a career day.

One of the many prominent characteristics of Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels is his athleticism. 

No, we're not talking about Mac Jones "can move around the pocket" athleticism. Daniels is a true athlete that just so happens to be able to throw a football fairly better than most of those around him at any given time. 

Heading into the 2021 season, much has been made about Daniels' ability as a passer. Whether that be his consistencies, accuracy or progressing through reads, Daniels still has work to do in refining the smaller details of the quarterback position. 

Conversations about Daniels' ability to run with the ball have also taken place, but not in a negative context. 

The Sun Devils quarterback has always flashed his ability to make defenders miss in the open field, yet Daniels has never given intentions of exiting the pocket to only take off and run. Often times, Daniels will try to extend the play as far as possible before crossing the line of scrimmage. 

Saturday was a different story. With Arizona State's offense not finding a rhythm until the second half of the game, Daniels was forced to improvise on the fly against a UNLV defense that had done well through the first two quarters.

Daniels quickly asserted himself as a runner, a rare sight for a quarterback who uses his mobility to find receivers more than anything else.

“They combined a lot of our routes. They played us really well in the first half in the passing game, especially down the field," said Daniels after the game. "That’s why I used my legs to hurt them.”

Hurt is a nice way of putting it. Daniels gashed the Rebels defense for 125 yards rushing, a career high and only the second time in his career that he eclipsed 100 yards rushing (USC in 2020 was the only other time) in a game.

Featured as a passer on an offense that primarily finds success running the ball, Daniels usually allows his tremendous stable of running backs to do most of the work. His 13 attempts were tied for the second-highest since he arrived at Arizona State in 2019.

"It was just in the moment. The game plan is never for me to rush around every yard. It’s to run the ball, action pass, get the receivers going, get the running backs going,"  Daniels said. 

"Rachaad (White) and all of them did a hell of a job, my receivers did a hell of a job, but if they’re going to give me those opportunities then I’m going to take them. As long as we can stay on the field and as long as I can help the team win, I’m going to do whatever it takes.”

There was something surreal about watching Daniels flip the switch and run with more aggression. Daniels didn't try to avoid contact on any of his runs, either. 

Whether Daniels' volume of rushes is included in the game plan remains to be seen. After all, in his postgame press conference. head coach Herm Edwards confessed that Daniels probably ran the ball too many times for his own liking.

However, when the offense felt stuck, Daniels took matters into his own hands (and legs) to continually move the chains. 

It was a nice reminder of Daniels' true athletic capabilities, and also an opportunity to display exactly how much damage could be done when turned loose.