Skip to main content

Opportunity Arises for Jayden Daniels in Las Vegas Bowl

Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels has a great opportunity ahead of him as the team prepares to finish 2021 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." -- Bobby Unser

All season, Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels has been spoon-fed criticism from the outside world. 

Talk about his play, leadership and other variables have made their way to Daniels in a year where a considerable leap was expected to be taken. 

Needless to say, Daniels' regression in 2021 wasn't kind. 

The appeal for Daniels' play in Arizona State's run-heavy system was clear: An athletic quarterback who possessed arm strength and took good care of the football would, often times, win more games than not. 

However, Daniels had nine interceptions after throwing only three in his first two seasons (15 games). Six of those nine interceptions came in the final five games of the season, as Daniels had three games in 2021 where he had multiple interceptions after not previously having none. 

The physical side of Daniels' game had gone awry. 

Whether it was footwork in the pocket when setting to make throws, inaccuracy on short-intermediate routes or overall decision making, Daniels failed to make good on the hype entering 2021. 

The Sun Devils were 2-4 this year when Daniels attempted over 25 passes, playing into the narrative that when Arizona State's rushing attack couldn't get going, putting the ball in Daniels' hands was often a win for the opposing defense. 

However, the blame for Daniels' struggles shouldn't all be placed only on the quarterback. 

Arizona State's pass-catching corps lacked a true No. 1 receiver, although Ricky Pearsall is very talented. 

Often times, receivers failed to step up, whether it was creating separation on routes or simply reeling in passes Daniels placed right into their hands. Not having a true sophomore year (a year in which a vast amount of players hit a wall), play-calling, game-planning and lack of adjustments throughout the game also played a role. 

The discourse surrounding Daniels' 2021 season has been brutal. 

To a certain extent, it's warranted. However, it's also clear that when taking a look at his play as the season concludes, not all the blame should be shouldered by Daniels. 

That's where the Las Vegas Bowl comes into play. 

Surely, Arizona State faithful were hoping for a Rose Bowl appearance. However, the Las Vegas Bowl against Wisconsin provides an opportunity on multiple fronts for Daniels. 

After a break in action, he has had time to regroup, watch film and get back to the basics that made him so attractive as a recruit coming out of high school. It's been an opportunity for Daniels and the rest of the Sun Devils to step out of the spotlight of game day and get back to the grind. 

Playing against Wisconsin, Arizona State will be without some key contributors, most notably running backs Rachaad White (NFL Draft prep) and DeaMonte Trayanum (transfer portal). 

Receivers Geordon Porter and Johnny Wilson will also not be with the team, as both hit the transfer portal and Wilson announced he is heading to Florida State. 

While running back Daniyel Ngata has played admirably, the drop-off in overall talent for Arizona State's running back room is substantial. Long story short, the Sun Devils may not be able to run the ball as effectively as they did in the past. 

This is where the opportunity for Daniels presents itself. 

The Sun Devils, looking to make a splash in the flashy lights of Allegiant Stadium, are now more likely to utilize the passing attack given their current arsenal of weapons. 

For fans who loathe Daniels, the last 60 minutes of ASU football couldn't come fast enough. 

However, for a quarterback already looking to get a head start on the 2022 season, a fun bowl game with no ramifications of losing should give ample chance for Daniels to simply stop overthinking, air it out and make plays at the quarterback position. 

Arizona State fans are well aware of how dangerous Daniels can be when both his athleticism running the football and prowess when throwing are hitting on all cylinders.

With his top two running backs out of the picture and new opportunities for younger receivers to gain more playing time, Daniels has an opportunity to finish his 2021 season on the right foot, which is something every Sun Devils fans should be rooting for.