TEMPE, Ariz. — It wasn’t flashy, nor was it especially pretty or even a typical game for that matter, but Arizona State fans should be excited about what the future holds for Jaden Rashada and the Sun Devil football program.
Rashada entered training camp as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster behind returning veteran Trenton Bourguet and transfer Drew Pyne, but quickly moved up the roster. ASU fans finally got to see why against Southern Utah.
On his 20th birthday, Rashada made his first collegiate career start. On his first drive of the night, he led the team down the field on a five play, 68-yard scoring drive. Rashad’s opening drive displayed his mobility, accuracy and poise, which included a 33-yard pass to Melquan Stovall to set up Cameron Skattebo for a 6-yard scoring run.
Headlines from camp leading up to Arizona State’s season opener raved about Rashada’s ability to push the ball down field with seemingly little effort, and he displayed his talent on a fourth-and-8 in the second quarter, finding Xavier Guillory for a 47-yard rainbow pass, the first of his young career.
The poise of the 20-year old surfaced in the waning seconds of the first half as Mountain America Stadium became engulfed in a haboob. With poor visibility, Rashada threw a 3-yard back shoulder fade to Troy Omeire, giving ASU the crucial 21-7 lead before the half.
However, after facing the unprecedented 2 hour and 45 minute weather delay, the offense only mustered 3 points while Rashada finished just 6-of-15 for 54 yards.
“I thought he did a phenomenal job,” Dillingham said. “I thought he came out in the second half, he just couldn’t get in a rhythm. His eyes were right, he was throwing the ball where it was supposed to be and that’s really – I have no question about Jaden, about his ability. So he was getting the ball where it was supposed to be. He just wasn’t in a rhythm. And I got to do a better job and we got to do a better job on offense getting him back in a rhythm. That’s our No. 1 job, is to keep quarterbacks in a rhythm. And after a two and a half hour rain delay, we got to get him back in a rhythm better. And that’s on me.”
On the night Rashada registered a clean slate of 18-of-31 for 261 yards and one touchdown.
Senior defensive back Jordan Clark stood by his young quarterback post game.
“That’s this kid’s first college start,” said Clark. “He works his ass off and he won his first football game under insane circumstances. We sat in the locker room for like two hours. So I think that he deserves credit for finishing the football game how he did, staying poised under those circumstances.”
This was ASU faithful’s first time seeing Rashada under the lights and he showed poise and promise, as well as striking similarities to the last true freshman to start for ASU in 2019: Former Sun Devil and current LSU Tiger Jayden Daniels.
Both in physical build and play style, Rashada and Daniels have a lot in common. If Rashada can continue to improve and mature as the season progresses, Sun Devil fans should be looking at an explosive play maker.
Despite the less-than-impressive win over Southern Utah, ASU and Dillingham got what they needed from Rashada and while it wasn’t an explosive as some would have liked, football is not always like that. Rashada proved he can play and win ugly, and that’s important.