The Arizona State Sun Devils will encounter their first true challenge of the 2021 season Saturday, when they take on #23 BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. Kalani Sitake’s Cougars will presumably be a confident group heading into the game, having dispatched Pac-12 opponents in back-to-back weeks to begin the year.
No. 19 ASU also enters the contest at 2-0, though its wins over Southern Utah and UNLV don’t come with the same prestige as BYU’s takedowns of Utah and Arizona. The Sun Devils’ road to 2-0 has featured its share of peaks and valleys, and ASU’s chances of emerging from the Utah mountains with a win will largely hinge on its ability to limit these three players:
Sophomore Quarterback Jaren Hall
A quick glance at Hall’s season statistics might lead an unwitting observer to believe that the first-year starter and successor to Zach Wilson has been little more than pedestrian. On the contrary, Hall has established himself as a legitimate dual-threat option under center for BYU, and his efficiency as a passer has been especially noteworthy given his limited experience.
After two games, Hall sits at fifth among qualified FBS passers in total quarterback rating, and has yet to throw an interception. Moreover, he is also averaging 9.8 yards per carry, which has the potential to cause problems for an ASU defense that struggled to contain UNLV dual-threat quarterback Doug Brumfield for large stretches of game time.
Sophomore Defensive Back Isaiah Herron
The youth of BYU’s lineup has proven to be a benefit rather than a detriment so far, and the performance of Isaiah Herron is one of the best examples. Herron, also in his first year as a full-time starter for the Cougars, has emerged as a key contributor in the secondary, and is currently tied for ninth place in the FBS with three pass breakups. Herm Edwards seemed to hint that ASU would employ a pass-heavy game plan against BYU, and Herron could make the Sun Devils pay if they don’t exercise caution when throwing to his side of the field.
Sophomore Running Back Tyler Allgeier
ASU has yet to face a prolific running back in 2021, and Allgeier should be a good litmus test for the Sun Devils’ defensive front as they gear up for meetings with the likes of Utah’s Micah Bernard and Washington State’s Max Borghi later on in the season. Allgeier has averaged just a smidge under 100 yards per game through his first two contests, and has found the end zone once. He carried the ball a whopping 27 times against Utah, and should see a comparable workload against ASU.