Browns WR Jarvis Landry placed on injured reserve

Herm Edwards, Zak Hill preach patience with Arizona State passing game

Michelle Gardner
Arizona Republic

Six games.

That is how many games Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels has played with his current group of wide receivers. So while the Sun Devils' passing game has not been as productive or explosive as most would like, coach Herm Edwards is preaching patience.

The tuneup games are over, though, for the Sun Devils (2-0), ranked No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. They'll be hitting the road for the first time this season and taking on No. 23 Brigham Young (2-0), which is coming off a 26-17 upset of state rival Utah.

“We haven’t made a lot of explosive plays, and when you think about passing you want to be able to do that. A lot of times we’re a little off schedule," Edwards said. "Jayden (Daniels) was in my office today. We talked about it. We had a nice conversation about what we’re trying to become. A lot of that is being familiar with the people he’s playing with. I'm not making excuses but it’s just a fact. He’s played with those receivers for six games now. I think that’ll improve, that’ll get better."

BYU, which will be looking for its third consecutive victory this season over a Pac-12 team, having dispensed of Arizona in the opener, returns 11 starters from a team that went a sparkling 11-1 last season, although only four of the returnees are on defense.

The Cougars give up an average of 246 yards passing per game and 136.5 on the ground. But in the win over the Utes, BYU allowed only 147 yards through the air.

Last season the Sun Devils were limited to four games due to COVID-19 and their first and second games were separated by a month, hardly an ideal situation in when it comes to breaking in a new offense and new set of receivers.

In two games thus far Daniels has thrown for 307 yards, completing 30 of 41 tries in two games, although he missed the second half of the opener with cramps. His completion percentage is up from 58% last year to 73 this season. But the Sun Devils haven't exactly taken many shots downfield, either.

Daniels did scramble for a career-high 125 yards on 13 tries in Saturday's 37-10 win over UNLV to lead all players in rushing. That's a little too much running, according to the ASU braintrust. While Daniels has the potential do damage on the ground with his scrambling ability, carrying the ball that many times is not the preferable way to go. The the trick is striking a balance.

His longest completion of the game was one of the last and went for a 33-yard scoring strike to LV Bunkley-Shelton.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction. Jayden (is) showing some things in the pocket and is getting better," offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. "Obviously he has that ability to be able to run and make it a threat on the defense to have to cover him, too, so he uses those attributes a lot and is gaining good yardage and converting third downs and makes it difficult for a defense. But I think overall, our quarterback play and our wide receiver crew is coming along, and we're excited to see how we move forward from there.”

Bunkley Shelton says he feels comfortable with Daniels because the two both hail from Southern California and have played in 7-on-7 leagues together, but he adds that for most, developing the relationship is also aided by off-the-field camaraderie.

"In college it isn't like high school where you all know each other. In college, everyone is from everywhere so you have to take time out of the day, after practice, just getting to know each other."

Hill said that trust has to come through success in game situations, not just on the practice field.

Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) warms up prior to facing the UNLV Rebels at Sun Devil Stadium.

"You go out there and you throw one-on-ones or you practice, and that’s one thing, you’re gaining knowledge and that experience with the guys," he said. "But that true game experience, and that higher level of play, it’s a different deal, so sometimes it takes a little longer, for quarterbacks, for it to slow down, a little bit.

"Having that game experience getting into these first few games, that’s what they’re all about, and hopefully, we start clicking to full speed as quickly as we can."

The second-year coordinator talked about ASU's first possession of the last game as evidence of that. The Sun Devils worked the ball to the UNLV 10 before Daniels was intercepted, only the fourth of his career.

The ball was intended for Johnny Wilson, who turned inside while running to the corner of the end zone, only to see the ball sail outside.

"Johnny (Wilson) went inside on a fade route, we left it a little further outside than we needed to and it ended up turning into a pick," Hill said. "The thing I like about Jayden is the fact that nothing rattles him. He’s not going to go into a slump because of that. He’s like, ‘All right, I learned from it. OK, we’re moving on — next drive, here we go.’ He does a really good job of just staying calm and cool and collected all the way through in whatever situation he’s in.”

Personnel updates

Running back DeaMonte Trayanum (ankle), corner back Timarcus Davis (leg) and defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott were back at practice on Tuesday as expected. None played in Saturday's 37-10 win over UNLV.

Trayanum sprained an ankle the previous week against Southern Utah, but the coaching staff has not specified why Norman-Lott was unavailable. Davis did not play in either game, sustaining the injury in the camp leading up to the opener.

Running back Daniyel Ngata practiced in a green non-contact jersey, just as he did last week. He had a cast on his right hand after dislocating his thumb in the game.

Center Dohnovan West was not at practice on Tuesday, leaving first-team reps to Jarrett Bell.

"We’re just kind of working through some things right now and not too worried about that, right now,” Hill said.

Early projection:ASU a Rose Bowl pick in college football bowl game prediction

Reach the reporter at Michelle.Gardner@gannett.com or 602 444-4783.  Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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