That's what separates the Arizona State Sun Devils and the opportunity to begin their 2021 campaign 1-0 on Thursday, Sept. 2. ASU will play host to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, and while the Sun Devils should be heavily favored heading into the season opener, there's plenty to figure out between now and then.
Magical Number of the Week: 6
Jayden Daniels was sacked six times last season despite playing only four games. That track record simply cannot continue in order for the Sun Devils to be successful. There's no doubting Arizona State's ability to run the football, as well as Daniels' mobility due to his legs.
However, it's no secret keeping Daniels upright and clean will translate to success on the offensive side of the ball.
Center Dohnovan West (first-team all-conference in 2020) and left tackle Kellen Diesch (received NFL prospect praise from offensive coordinator Zak Hill) return to the lineup in 2021 to ensure Daniels hits the ground less than the previous year. Incoming freshman Ezra Dotson-Oyetade offers a wealth of potential, and may find his way onto the field sooner rather than later.
The Sun Devils also averaged six yards per rush last season, good enough to lead the Pac-12. Arizona State's wealth at the running back position looks to pay dividends, as the Sun Devils hope to run the ball better than anybody in the conference again.
Their backfield, headlined by co-starters and Doak Walker Award watch-list nominees Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum, offers the appeal to get the job done no matter the task at hand.
Time will tell if ASU's passing attack can reach the same heights. However, there's no doubting the Sun Devils' ability to pound the rock when needed.
In six weeks, we'll see our first glimpse of Arizona State's ability to do all of the above.
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Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit https://www.si.com/college/arizonastate/