Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards says he doesn’t pay attention to outside noise. He doesn’t care what the media says about him or his team and doesn’t take anything personally.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as motivation.
So, before each team meeting, Edwards begins with a projection of the Pac-12 conference, which this year has his Sun Devils in 10th place, with rivals Arizona and Colorado the only teams chosen to finish lower.
The reasons for the low expectations are many, and when it comes to the 2022 version of the Sun Devils, there seem to be more questions than answers, not the least of which is Edwards’ future with the show.
The cloud of the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations still hangs over and shows no signs of lifting any time soon.
That investigation led to a historically bad recruiting class. There were mass defections, with many of the team’s best players jumping ship. The Sun Devils brought in reinforcements through the transfer portal. Among them is quarterback Emory Jones, who started last year at Florida, but it remains to be seen how the 43 newcomers stack up with the veterans, though players say they’ve done well.
The new season kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sun Devil Stadium with ASU, 8-5 overall in 2021, hosting Northern Arizona, coming off a 5-6 performance.
“Every meeting (coach) Herm (Edwards) puts out the Pac 12 conference roster, who’s No. 1, who’s last,” said senior fullback Case Hatch, one of the team’s captains. “We just sit there for a second and look at it. It’s just a reminder of where we’ve been projected and what we have to prove. The world is against us. We’re excited to go out there, starting with NAU and show who we are.” he entered the field.”
There are also references to the same expectations in the weight room.
“Just a constant reminder of what we’ve been envisioned for this year, but we’re excited to prove ourselves wrong,” Hatch said.
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Veteran offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson, another of the team’s captains, also finds the projections amusing.
“We already heard from every possible outlet that we suck, we’re not going to win any games,” he said. “We’re horrible. We hear it from ex-players, and from all kinds of people. We’re done with it. We’re playing a game. We’re just locking ourselves in. Everyone will see it. We’re not too concerned about what people think of us. We know who we are. “.
The Sun Devils are 25-18 in Edwards’ previous four years with three bowl appearances. Last season was a huge disappointment given that 20 starters returned. In the field the lack of discipline and cohesion of the team was noticeable. Leadership also seemed to be a problem.
These issues have been addressed through different means. About a dozen players make up a “leadership” committee that meets weekly to discuss ways to keep players connected and engaged.
Linebacker Kyle Soelle says the process began even before the dust settled from the 20-13 loss to Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Bowl.
“It started right after last season. I was addressing the discipline, in terms of offside, false starts, pre-snap penalties, that’s where we started,” said Soelle, a Saguaro High School local. “Be responsible with it and continue to be responsible. When things like that happen in practice, we’re going to run after it and it’s up to us as players to lead that.”
Soelle said players have also taken it upon themselves to go in and watch videos together, even when not in the presence of their coaches. They’ve also built a stronger bond by spending time together off the field, whether it’s playing video games or basketball or just getting together to watch the latest UFC fights.
Hatch, a Perry product who joined the show in 2019, is so pleased with the way the team has come together that he says this is his favorite group to be a part of, even if they don’t have the talent of the others.
“This is my favorite team, it really is. We have a lot of selfless leaders and a lot of responsibility. We hold each other to a very high standard here, especially this year when kids mess up, one kid gets a false start, he’s out, the next kid is up. It’s just stuff like that. They’re holding us to a high standard and the leaders are taking care of that,” he said.
Edwards says he has enjoyed watching his team grow and the way returning players have embraced newcomers. In addition to Jones, the Division I transfers likely to start are running back Xazavian Valladay (Wyoming), right tackle Des Holmes (Penn State), right guard Chris Martinez (San Diego State), safety Khoury Bethley (Hawaii) and nose tackle Nesta Jade. Silvera (Miami).
Historically, ASU teams have done better when they’re the underdogs rather than the favorites, and there’s certainly hope this is one of those cases.
“We brought in so many new guys who wanted to come here, wanted to be a part of this. Just the interaction of these guys, of knowing who your teammates are, that’s been important,” she said. “Where if you meet a guy it’s like, ‘OK.’ But these are new guys, and they come from different places, and the stories they tell and the ones that come back say, ‘Really?’ And they’re trying to figure out the culture here, so you have to figure it out. But yes, it is a close team. There is no doubt about that, and they are a closed team”.
ASU football schedule
September 1 – Northern Arizona, 7 pm (Pac-12 Netowrk)
September 10 – at Oklahoma State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sept. 17 – Eastern Michigan, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
September 24 – Utah
October 1 – at USC
October 8 – Washington
October 22 – at Stanford
October 29 – at Colorado (ESPN or ESPN2)
November 5 – UCLA
November 12 – in Washington State
November 19 – Oregon State (homecoming)
November 25 – in Arizona, 1 p.m. (FS1
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