The Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0) dashed to their third straight conference victory Friday night, defeating the Stanford Cardinal ( 3-3, 2-2) 28-10 and remaining ahead in the Pac-12 South.
The victory came in part due to a near unstoppable rushing attack. In the first quarter alone the Sun Devils earned 119-yards on the ground. By the end of the night, they had rushed for 255 yards.
“We did some good things in the game as far as running the football, “ head coach Herm Edwards said. “ That was kind of our emphasis, trying to run the ball a little bit more.”
Leading the way for Arizona State was Jayden Daniels and a rotation of running backs.
Daniels began the impressive running performance with 64 yards in the first quarter along with a rushing touchdown. As he has done all season, the junior quarterback excelled in improvising with his speed but also on designed runs.
Daniels' longest run of the night came off an impressive play early in the first quarter. Daniels pump faked to his left and immediately darted down the middle of the field, evading two defenders to his side and swerving into the open field for a 51-yard touchdown.
"It felt good to come out with a fast start; it’s something that the coaches preach to us in practice and before games," Daniels said. "Overall, it felt good to capitalize on what we have seen against Stanford using play-action passing and using our speed to run the ball well.”
To the dismay of opposing defenses, the Sun Devils quarterback is just the tip of the iceberg of the running game. Running backs Rachaad White, Chip Trayanum, and Daniyel Ngata all contributed by pounding the ball down the field.
"We know we have got to do our job as we rotate. Everybody comes in and plays their part in the offense for the running backs to be successful," White said.
White has led the backfield all season and continued to be a presence in Friday's victory. His 96 yards led the team in rushing yards. White added to his stat line with a rushing touchdown.
White made each rush a problem for the Cardinal defense, gashing through their defense. For the night, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
“We're in a good spot, and we’ve got talented guys at all positions. I know they’re hungry, and I thought we’ve always played physical,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “Every game, you’d like to have the perfect game and have no negative yardage and all that stuff, but you learn from it, and those guys are hungry to learn, hungry to be coached, and the vibe, the energy from them through the week is awesome.”
ASU attacked Stanford's defense with not just downhill runs, but with misdirection. Early in the second quarter the maroon and gold used an end-around play to give the ball to wide receiver Elijah Badger, who easily zoomed into the end zone for the third straight rushing touchdown of the game.
The score from Badger followed a similar misdirection play that ended up being a reverse and toss to Daniels who completed a pass down the field for a first down.
“We felt like some of the misdirection stuff was going to be good for us and to try to get them moving and get them out of position a little bit, so we thought some of our reverses might be good,” Hill said. “Badger’s there in the end zone again, too. That was fun to see.”
The rushing attack slowed down in the second half, totaling 83 yards as the Sun Devils looked to take their time and run out the clock with a two-score and then three-score lead.
"We were able to continue to make some first downs and drain a little bit of clock,” Hill said. “We had some issues that we've got to clean up overall and think through and situations that we’ve got to be better in, and we’ll continue to do that.”
The performance on Friday is Arizona State's second best rushing performance of the season and they will hope to continue the success when they face the Utah Utes next week. The Utes are allowing 140.5 yards per game rushing entering Saturday's game against USC.