(AP Photo/Matt York)
Since Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk left Arizona State to fulfill their NFL dreams, quarterback Jayden Daniels has all eyes on him heading into the 2020 season.
However, he says the spotlight will soon be shining on the whole offense.
“I would say coming back as the starting quarterback for ASU, there’s going to be eyes on me, people are going to focus on me,” Daniels told members of the media via Zoom on Wednesday, “but we’ve still got other guys that are coming back and new guys that have come in and can make plays and just make a name for themselves.”
Daniels had a stellar freshman campaign, throwing for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2019.
Now, with new offensive coordinator Zak Hill leading the way, Daniels is confident that the team and himself will have continued success.
“I know everybody’s always asking the question of who’s going to replace Eno, who’s going to replace Brandon with the production. But I feel like just as an offense together, there’s going to be guys who will step up and make plays.”
A main focus for the ASU offense this year is to start fast and sustain momentum while racking up points on the scoreboard.
“Last year we had a tendency of a slow start and always playing from behind. … If we want to be top-20, top-14 in the country, you’ve got to score over 30-plus points a game.”
Part of that success will come from not only building chemistry with his newest receivers, but building muscle.
Head coach Herm Edwards encouraged him to gain weight and muscle this year, hoping to lead to a stronger arm and feeling hits less.
The QB also said he sits down with Edwards daily, gleaning advice and confidence from the “well-respected” coach. One discussion that stuck out in Daniels’ mind included Edwards’ advice on how the head coach would handle being in the QB’s position
“His main thing is, ‘When you start running, just know when your journey is over.’ That’s the main thing he tells me,” Daniels said. “I just listen to him. … I don’t have to be superman trying to cut back across the field. Just make the plays that I need to make in order for the team to win.”
As the team looks toward the Nov. 7 kickoff against USC, Daniels won’t see his usual weapons on the field, but knows they’ll be watching — especially Aiyuk, who the QB says he talks to and Facetimes almost every other day.
“That’s the relationship we built over time that he was here,” Daniels said. “That’s my big brother. I say blood couldn’t make us any closer. Seeing him succeed and fulfill his dream out makes me happy. I know he can’t wait until we’re able to play and he’s able to see me play too.”