A new era for Arizona State University football began Thursday night, and it was defined by freshmen.
Twenty-five freshmen played for the Sun Devils in their season opener, including a true freshman quarterback and center.
Cade Cote broke his foot during Sunday’s practice, which meant true freshman Dohnovan West would take over at center. It’s one of the few, if not the only instance where true freshmen started at both positions in FBS.
Jayden Daniels was sacked five times, which is cause for concern. ASU’s opponents got to the quarterback a total of 16 times all of last year.
“That’s what we got, and that’s who’s playing,” head coach Herm Edwards replied when asked about the situation.
He did joke about the total amount of freshmen on the field though and said he looked out onto the field and asked, “who are those guys?”
In his debut as a Sun Devil, Jayden Daniels completed 15 of 24 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Daniels was confident and composed. The second pass he threw was a 42-yard deep ball to Frank Darby which helped set up a field goal.
“That’s pretty good for a freshman,” said Edwards, who was pleased with the quarterback’s performance, understanding that he was going to make mistakes due to his lack of experience.
Perhaps the top play of the game came from receiver Brandon Aiyuk. It was a 77-yard catch and run, and a true thing of beauty. It was also the longest reception of his collegiate career.
ASU’s defense held the Golden Flashes to 200 yards of total offense, but the biggest blemish came in the fourth quarter when the unit allowed Kent to find the end zone.
“That touchdown at the end is ridiculous,” said defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales. “We should have shut them out.”
The defense wore down in the fourth quarter and both Edwards and Gonzales felt the team as a whole looked fatigued in the second half.
“It was kind of interesting, I thought we were in better shape than that,” said Edwards who partially attributed the fatigue to the hot and humid weather conditions and the excitement of a season-opener.
Up next, ASU will host Sacramento State on Friday, September 6. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.