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Halfway Point: Report Cards for Arizona State's Offense

The Arizona State Sun Devils are 5-1, thanks to a strong offensive start captained by Jayden Daniels.
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We're halfway through the 2021 season, and the Arizona State Sun Devils look as promising as ever. ASU boasts a 5-1 record, with their one loss (at BYU) feeling more like a self-defeat than anything else thanks to 16 penalties and four turnovers.

Yet the Sun Devils have done a great job of putting their lone mishap in the rearview mirror, starting conference play off undefeated with a record of 3-0 and beating fairly solid teams such as UCLA and Stanford during that stretch. 

Now, ASU is in the driver's seat for the Pac-12 South division and a potential spot in the conference championship game on Dec. 3. 

Arizona State's prominent start can be attributed to a true team effort, starting with head coach Herm Edwards and trickling down to the players. 

Led by quarterback Jayden Daniels, ASU's offense ranks near the top of the Pac-12 in average yards per game (440.7) and points per game (33.3), mostly operating as a well-oiled machine for much of the season. 

Report Cards for Arizona State's Offense

 Quarterback Play: B+

Daniels has done everything asked of him, beating to a similar drum in previous seasons: Let the rushing attack move the ball, manage the game and showcase your arm strength and athleticism when called upon. 

Through six games in 2021, Daniels has completed 96 of 137 passing attempts for 1,269 yards and four touchdowns to three interceptions. 

The turnover numbers are certainly out of character for a quarterback well-known for his ball security, yet Daniels' playmaking ability has balanced his average of one interception every two games. 

Daniels, completing 70.1% of his passes with an average of 9.3 yards per completion and a quarterback rating of 153.1 all are currently highs for Daniels' career at ASU. 

Translation? He's hitting the ball more accurately, further down the field and overall playing better than his two previous seasons. 

Daniels has gotten the job done, yet his play this year has, at times, left a little to be desired. Throwing receivers open, hitting tight windows and general consistency with intermediate accuracy are all struggles Daniels has yet to truly master. 

Don't take that as a slight. Daniels is a big part of the team's success, and is earning a very good grade on his report card. Yet if we're nitpicking room for improvement, the aforementioned aspects of his game could turn Daniels into an A+ quarterback, both on the field and in the minds of NFL general managers who could potentially draft him. 

Running Backs: A

There isn't much more you could ask of Arizona State's running backs stable, as all three backs have contributed at high levels when called upon. 

Chip Trayanum is the engine that makes the Sun Devils offense go, and although his absence in a few games due to injury in 2021 have knocked down his rushing totals, Trayanum's physical style of play has helped pick up tough but valuable yards when ASU needed it most. 

Rachaad White's receiving ability has again been put on display, leading the team in receptions with 24. His dynamic speed and moves to go around (and sometimes above) defenders makes White one of the most elusive backs in the conference. 

Finally, Daniyel Ngata has done a great job of spelling either Trayanum or White when needed. Posing as a back with a combination of physicality and burst, Ngata has carried the ball 37 times for 237 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and scoring three times on the ground. 

Absolutely no complaints from the running back stable in Tempe. Any way the ball can be rushed, they have a back who is more than capable of getting the job done, and that's been proven time and time again already. 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-

With Arizona State running the ball with success so often, we're forced to grade on a curve for the pass-catchers, as the opportunities can sometimes be limited to make plays on a consistent basis. 

Receiver Ricky Pearsall has been an obvious bright spot in Arizona State's passing game, leading the way with 256 yards (tied for the team high) on 19 receptions (team high) and two receiving touchdowns, which also leads ASU. Fellow receiver LV Bunkley-Shelton has also seen an expanded role this season, with 234 yards on 18 receptions and one receiving touchdown.

Tight end Curtis Hodges, who has just as many receiving yards as Pearsall, has stepped up and given the Sun Devils a prominent presence at his position, often times acting as a security blanket for Daniels. 

Outside of those three options exists a plethora of talent and potential in the receiving corps. 

However, none of those guys have stepped up on a consistent basis, whether it be due to injury or simple lack of opportunity. Receivers such as Johnny Wilson, Geordon Porter, Elijah Badger, Bryan Thompson and Andre Johnson have all seen their number dialed at some point this season, yet none of the above have elevated themselves as a staple in Arizona State's offense. 

Again, that's not a knock on the talent of anybody mentioned above. Yet the Sun Devils offense would benefit greatly from just one more player posing a consistent threat as a receiver. 

Offensive Line: A

Let's give some love to the big men up front, who rarely receive positive attention. 

Guys such as tackle Kellen Diesch and center Dohnovan West lead a group of linemen who continually pave the way for ASU's great running backs to shine, while also buying Daniels time in the pocket to hit receivers downfield. One scout told AllSunDevils that Diesch has seen his draft stock grow considerably during the season. 

Diesch and West will receive most of the light on the offensive front, yet fellow big men such as guards LaDarius Henderson and Henry Hattis and right tackle Ben Scott are just as crucial to the team's success. It's notable that Henderson was named the Pac-12's Offensive Lineman of the Week after the team upset UCLA recently. 

Pass or run, the guys up front continue to get the job done. No complaints here from the offensive line.