44, 8, 47, 10.
Those are the distances of sophomore running back Eno Benjamin four touchdowns on Saturday night.
In short, much of head coach Herm Edwards’ first Pac-12 win will be remembered for the performance of Benjamin on Saturday. The 312 yards put Benjamin at the top of Arizona State’s record books for most yards in the game. It also puts him eighth all-time for most yards in a game by a Pac-12 rusher.
“It was a great feeling, but honestly we had a game plan,” Benjamin said. “We knew we were going to be able to run the ball on them. We went through practice, we executed. If you saw the way we practiced this week, you would’ve known it was going to happen.”
Benjamin carried the ball 30 times, four more than his previous career-high of 26 against Washington last week. Edwards has said plenty of times recently how he wants to run the ball efficiently. And Benjamin has taken the role of being the workhorse back.
He attributes a lot of his growth to the work he has put it in with running back coach John Simon.
“I had a blueprint my senior year of high school when I sat down with coach Simon. We had goals, I knew what had to be done to get those goals,” Benjamin said. “Sitting that year, I learned a lot from those two (former ASU running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard). That’s one thing that I really enjoyed and I appreciate. I think last year really set me up for something like this, just going out and being hungry on the field.”
Benjamin’s quarterback and coach talked about his performance in their first conference win of the season.
“All our running backs do a really good job. Eno just reaped the benefits tonight. Really tall credit to the offensive line, they did a good job of setting the right tone and getting their hats on the right spot,” redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins said. “To have a back run for 300 yards — it doesn’t happen often. I’m really proud of him because I know how hard he works in practice.”
“I thought we ran the ball again for the second week very nicely. Eno Benjamin obviously was in here and broke all the records,” Edwards said. “A lot of that contributes to the offensive line. His ability to break tackles and just staying with it.”
On his pair of 40-yard plus touchdowns, Benjamin was able to keep breaking away from Beaver defenders. Breaking tackles using jukes and spin-moves. He talked about the use of his spin-move.
“I really don’t even recognize that I’m doing it. It just happens I think,” Benjamin said. “One thing coach Simon preaches is being able to square a guy up and make him miss. I felt like I was balanced enough to give them a spin-move and keep my balance.”
Benjamin only had a combined 48 yards in the games against Michigan State and San Diego State. Now he puts in a record performance of 312 yards, a week after a promising night in Seattle against Washington with 104 yards.
For the Sun Devils to get where they want to be, the team Edwards wants them to be, they’ll need to keep relying on Benjamin. And if he and the offensive line can keep this level of play, Benjamin has more than enough opportunity to keep writing his name in record books.