Herm Edwards, Manny Wilkins still working on their marriage
TEMPE, Ariz. — Herm Edwards describes his relationship with Manny Wilkins as a marriage. It’s unclear if coach and quarterback have moved past the honeymoon stage as ASU winds down spring practice.
“Until somebody told me about it I didn’t know that our relationship was like that,” Wilkins said, laughing. “It’s cool. I’m OK with it.”
Edwards said that level of bond is necessary for a team to have success. It’s a bond he had in his time as an NFL coach with quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Vinny Testaverde.
“My wife gets it; she understands,” Edwards said, laughing. “She’s dealt with the Chad Penningtons in her life. Her and Chad are still friends along with his wife.”
Edwards said Wilkins is one of about five or six Sun Devil players he watches and talks to every day. There is a purpose behind that daily communication and relationship building.
“There’s words of leadership that are involved when I speak to them,” Edwards said. “When the game starts there’s no one in the huddle but the players. The coach can’t go in the huddle.
“Things happen. There’s 22 players that participate. There’s generally an error by a player. How do you move past the error by the player? Some players can discard it and play the next play. Some players, it wears on them and it becomes a series of mistakes and then it becomes a bad quarter and then it becomes a bad game. This is what teammates and team leaders do. They don’t allow that to penetrate.”
Wilkins admits that moving past a previous play’s failure has sometimes been a challenge for him.
“I’ve tried my best to do it. I’m not perfect,” he said. “I’m a very, very, very emotional dude so that’s been one of the things I’ve tried to work on is my body language.
“When things hit the fan and it isn’t going well, just regroup, get the guys together. That’s why I really like that we’re huddling up [this year]. It’s an opportunity for me to look my guys in their eyes so they can see what I’m about and what I represent and how we should go out there.”
Wilkins said his relationship with Edwards and offensive coordinator Rob Likens is still developing. While he has played for four offensive coordinators and two head coaches the past four seasons, he doesn’t see that as an obstacle.
“I’m used to change,” he said. “I’ve had change damn near every year I’ve been here. I enjoy it. I embrace it.
“I could choose to sit and sulk about it. I could choose to play the blame game, who’s fault it is, or I can choose to attack it and make the most out of it and take advantage of the opportunity that has presented itself. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I’m doing.”
The Xs and Os are still taking shape as the Sun Devil figure out their depth chart, but Edwards said he likes his fifth-year senior quarterback’s approach.
“He’s very meticulous,” Edwards said. “When you watch him in practice, he’s always looking. He’s trying to look at things through not only the quarterback’s eyes, but what I like, through the defensive eyes. He asks me questions. I like players that ask questions. I like players that ask ‘why’ because they’re searching for knowledge.”
Wilkins admits he was sorry to see Todd Graham fired, but he said Edwards has made the transition easier.
“As the years went by, my relationship with Coach Graham grew a lot more. Last year, we grew pretty close so it was hard to see him go but instantly when Herm got here — it could be that I’m a fifth-year senior, third-year starter at quarterback — but it’s just a very welcoming personality that he has,” Wilkins said. “He shoots it straight. He keeps it real. He doesn’t sugarcoat things. When he needs to critique you, he’s going to critique you and when you’re going to get praise you’re going to get praise.
“He’s a very funny guy. The way we do our team meetings now, he tells us how everything is and at the end of the day, if he’s in a good mood he’ll tell a joke. We’ll all be dying laughing and then he’s like ‘alright, let’s go get after it.’ Everybody’s spirits are all up instead of like, ‘oh, we’ve got to go to practice.’ It’s been different but I’m excited for what’s to come.”