Last week was awesome, right Cougar fans? We are starting again this evening. BYU will face the Arizona State Sun Devils at 8:15 p.m. MST in what will be the first ranked game at Lavell Edwards Stadium since 2009. At the very least, this game could feature the best uniformed game of the weekend, but the football is expected. be pretty good too. Here’s what you need to know about the Sun Devils.
There are two names you might as well know by now: Jayden Daniels and Rachaad White. Daniels is entering his sophomore year of sophomore year as one of the PAC-12’s most touted quarterbacks, registering a passer rating over 145 every year he’s at ASU. Having said that, he’s more of the QB ‘one read and one take off’ type, but can the boy take off. He leads the ground team, averaging nearly 9 yards per carry on 19 attempts this year. He’s an efficient passer but won’t dazzle you with his arm. Last week against UNLV he was 2 for 6 on passes that traveled over 10 yards in the air with a touchdown and a pick.
His teammate Rachaad White offers a home run capability in a bulky 6’2,210lbs frame. He’s not particularly devious but can run away from defensive backs and has a nose for the end zone. He has four touchdowns in two weeks and gives Daniels a solid option off the backfield with a team leading six receptions. Sun Devil pass catchers are big and physical, presenting game problems all over the field. All but one catcher is over 6’1,200lbs and the tight ends are over 6’7. None have come up with flashy numbers yet this season, but WR Ricky Pearsoll has particularly proven to be an explosive option in the passing and running game.
Sun Devil’s defensive scheme bears a striking resemblance to what we see at BYU under Ilaisa Tuiaki. They like to rush at 4s and run mostly on the backend, but will bring some creative blitzes when the time is right. The Sun Devils’ top seven registered 5 sacks last week, including 2 from stud linebacker Darien Butler. Butler will be seen all over the field on Saturday. He leads the team in tackles, loss tackles, sacks, INTs and partridges in pear trees.
The Sun Devils also have two incredibly strong corners with Chase Lucas and Jack Jones, who can hang on to talented BYU receivers in head-to-head clashes. The defense has looked solid against admittedly weak opponents so far this season, but at times seems vulnerable against moving quarterbacks. UNLV QB Donald Brumfield who averaged over five yards per carry and one touchdown last week.
A game that forces Daniels to throw from the pocket is a game that favors BYU but forcing him to throw is difficult to do. It’s not a patient passer who goes up in the pocket and makes a big throw when under duress. In fact, he’s run 89% of the time under pressure this season and only threw one pass from an unclean pocket. If BYU puts the pressure on, they’ll feel the full impact of Jayden Daniels’ running ability.
He’s faster than anyone on BYU’s Front 7 and we’ll likely see a myriad of games where Daniels or White appear to be bottled up in the backfield to squirt in the open field. Therefore, BYU will have to play assignment football on the 11 defensive positions to keep Daniels a secret. The easiest way, however, to force Daniels to pitch is a quick departure from the BYU offense forcing ASU to follow.
I would expect to see ASU performing a lot of drop-7 zone defending, which I think favors BYU. BYU will have plenty of middle lanes open in the middle, meaning tight ends Isaac Rex and Dallin Holker will have their moments to shine early after being mostly asked to pass protection over the past two weeks. BYU’s offensive line looked formidable last week, and I expect a similar performance on Saturday.
The race lanes will be there against a four-man race, leaving Tyler Allgeier a good three meters to gain the upper hand before meeting his first tackle. That’s the Tyler advantage. As linebackers are forced to cheat to stop the race, deeper roads will open up, and this will be the game where Hall connects to a Nacua in sequence.
Both teams will be able to score points. BYU looks poised for an offensive breakthrough and that will be the game it brings together. In addition, it will be the loudest crowd that ASU has played in front of since October 2019 and will likely be the loudest they face all season. Jaren Hall’s dynamic double-threat ability and the crowd at Lavell Edwards Stadium make the difference on Saturday as BYU gets just enough saves to secure the victory.
BYU 31 – 24 ASU