In the latest edition of Across the Press Box, the Daily Wildcat caught up with Wills Rice from AZ Sports Box to preview the 94th edition of the Territorial Cup, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. MST at the Arizona Stadium.
Daily Wildcat: Quarterback Jayden Daniels seems to be experiencing the sophomore slump. Is that a product of the whacky football season and only playing two games, or is he actually doing something wrong?
Wills Rice: I think the record puts Jayden Daniels in an unfair light. ASU is a secured onside kick at USC and fumble on the 1 yard line against UCLA from potentially being 2-0. It is also really hard to really tell how much Covid [COVID-19] cancelling 3 games affected the mindset of this team. It may not affect Jayden [Daniels] but if one of the o-linemen or wide receivers has a different mindset it can really change a game.
DW: Tell me about DeaMonte Trayanum. He seems like the only player on ASU's offense that has been performing well this season. Has he been a product of the offensive line, or is he that good?
WR: He has been a difference maker rushing for over 100 yards in both games so far. He has really taken a huge load off Jayden and filled in perfectly for Eno Benjamin. What he has done this year would not be possible whiteout [without] another new face Rachaad White and his pass catching ability out of the backfield as well.
DW: UA's offensive line has been the downfall of this team every week this season. Is ASU's defensive line a threat to cause havoc this week against the Wildcats?
WR: ASU was hoping the front-four was going to get more pressure but has gotten virtually none without blitzing. One guy to keep an eye on in the trenches is DJ Davidson, he has the ability to take over on run defense and can get a few sacks as well.
DW: What about the Sun Devils' secondary? The Wildcats sort of exploited Colorado's shaky defensive backs last week. Is there any chance that happens again this week against ASU?
WR: In the first week ASU really shut down USC's Kedon Slovis and that air raid offense, and that was due to great secondary play. For unknown reasons, two of ASU's starting defensive backs in cornerback Jack Jones and safety Ashari [Aashari] Crosswell were suspended indefinitely and will not play. They did hold UCLA to under 200 yards passing even with two new faces, but were slaughtered on the ground.
DW: Who is one ASU player to watch for this Friday?
WR: I think a lot of us are waiting for the Jayden Daniels breakout game and I don’t think one of those is possible without their best receiver Frank Darby. So look out for a breakout game which he hasn’t had yet.
DW: Final score predictions?
WR: I said 42-34 and think both teams will run the ball heavily but think if Will Plummer does play U of A will just not have enough weapons to survive 60 minutes.