Earlier this week we had the chance to talk to Bready Vernon from the ASU community House of Sparky regarding this week’s matchup with the Huskies.
Here’s what we learned in our Q&A:
UWDP: Jayden Daniels is at the top of the Pac-12 in completion percentage and yards per attempt, but his 7 TDs to 7 INTs does not look as good. How has his play been overall? How about the pass protection?
Brady Vernon: Daniels in my opinion played well in the first half of the season. However, the past two weeks have been bad. He’s been inaccurate and made poor decisions which is uncharacteristic for him. Overall I do think he’s been disappointing this season. Everyone, myself included, expected a big leap from him as a passer and it hasn’t been there. He’s dynamic as a runner, but at times he drops his eyes too soon when he has a receiver coming open a second later. The offensive line has been as good as you can ask for in a collegiate offensive line. It’s not the best in the nation, it has bad moments, but it’s better than most. It’s been good enough for Daniels, but I believe everyone thinks he himself has more improvements to make.
UWDP: Tell us about the multiple receiving threats in the passing game. Daniels has spread the ball around to a lot of guys. Who are the primary deep and possession targets for the Sun Devils?
Brady: In all honesty the receivers have all been lackluster. Arizona State brought in a handful of four-star recruits at the position in 2020 but none have emerged at a consistent level. Johnny Wilson, who they flipped from Oregon, has had injuries and drop issues. LV Bunkley-Shelton gets like three catches a game but not as many game-changing plays as you like. Elijah Badger has flashed when on the field but it’s been a rarity after he didn’t play in 2020 due to academic ineligibility. Chad Johnson Jr. doesn’t see the field. Ricky Pearsall has been the most consistent but he, like most of the passing offense, hasn’t done much since the UCLA contest. Utah transfer Bryan Thompson finally emerged the past two weeks, but he’s also had poor moments. There’s clearly talent in the room, but there’s no alpha receiver to watch for.
UWDP: Rachaad White exploded last week against USC after missing the WSU game. Were you surprised by his outing? Who else can help from the RB position? How has the offensive line performed in the running game?
Brady: White hasn’t surprised me since his Sun Devil debut against USC last year. The dude is a ballplayer. I personally believe he’ll have a great future at the next level because he has all the tools to be the fantasy running back everyone loves. In all seriousness, he’s fantastic and deserves all the success he’s worked for. Running back is the best position for Arizona State. In that 2020 class, the Sun Devils also brought in Deamonte Trayanum and Daniyel Ngata. Trayanum has been the thunder to White’s lightning. He’s a powerful runner, but he’s had fumble issues recently. Ngata has been slowed down from injuries but he’s been really good when he gets chances, those are limited due to the talent in front of him.
UWDP: The ASU defense ranks tops in the conference in total defense, and is near the top in most defensive categories in the Pac-12. How has the unit performed as a whole? Any glaring weaknesses? Who are some players on that side of the ball to watch on Saturday?
Brady: The defense has so much experience, but the penalties have hurt the most. That’s been the weird issue with this team is the penalties it racks up. It’s been impressive to see the defense, however, in all honesty, Arizona State has played really bad offenses. The defense holds a good amount of responsibility for the loss to Utah and its second-half comeback. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s a great unit. Darien Butler has been awesome to watch. He lost weight this offseason and has looked a lot quicker flying around the field. In terms of weaknesses that aren’t the penalties, the pass rush has really slowed down the past few weeks because of injuries.
UWDP: How is Herm Edwards faring from a fanbase perspective?
Brady: I believe the luster of Edwards has worn off. The constant penalties, lack of player development, finding a way to always lose the big games and well, the NCAA Investigation have set fans wanting a different direction. He’s a great guy and personality, but it’s fair to question if he’s a good head coach. The high recruits were a big get for this staff but as noted in the wide receiver section and even Daniels, that doesn’t really matter if those players don’t improve. I have no idea what the future holds for Edwards, but honestly I don’t know if it matters because Arizona State might just be a program forever stuck in the 6-9 win cycle I guess.
UWDP: What is your prediction for this game?
Brady: Gosh, I don’t see a lot of offense, especially if Arizona State can’t run the ball. It’ll probably be low scoring and ugly. A turnover probably swings the game one way or another. I’ll say that the Sun Devil offense creates one or two more big plays that give them enough points to win. Something like a 23-20 Arizona State win.
Thanks Brady. Be sure to check out House of Sparky for more on the Sun Devils.