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ASU coach Herm Edwards defends decision to go for it on fourth down

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins, back, throws a pass against against Colorado in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Trailing the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes by seven points on Saturday, one of the turning points of the game was early in the fourth quarter when the Arizona State offense failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal from the Buffaloes’ three yard line.

Kicking a field goal, putting points on the scoreboard and cutting the lead down to four points would have been an easy decision to explain when head coach Herm Edwards joined the Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, but not when you play to win the game.

“You got to go for it. Are you kidding me? I mean, c’mon. You got to go for it,” Edwards said. “You’re trying to win a football game. You’re right, now we’re down by four points. We still got to score a touchdown, and we never did, by the way.”

The head coach said that when his team crosses the 30 yard line, they are looking at him expecting to go for it every time, despite the success of kicker Brandon Ruiz who is on the Lou Groza Award Watch List and has already won a Pac-12 special teams Player of the Week award.

“I think you see more college teams now going for fourth downs. You look at the opponents we’ve played, they’re 8-for-11 on fourth down. I’m a little more conservative maybe on the minus-side of the 40 than some teams, but once we cross the 50, all bets are off,” Edwards said.

“You put the trust in the players. And you know that you’re trying to win that down and it’s important. I think for us, I mean right now fourth down what, I think we’re 60 percent, 6-for-10 right now on fourth down. In certain situations, you’re trying to put it on the players. I trust you guys. We’re going to be an aggressive football team.”

The players Edwards decided to trust were quarterback Manny Wilkins and 6-foot-8 wide receiver Curtis Hodges, who couldn’t connect on a fade route in the back of the endzone.

Hodges lined up on the opposite side of the field of ASU’s most probable All-American this season in wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who was banged up with an injured thigh.

Wilkins was also seen limping off the field toward the end of the game. With two of the most important pieces to the Sun Devils offense nursing injuries, Edwards believes that they will be ready to go on Oct. 18 when ASU takes on Stanford.

“I think the bye week will help us. We got some wounded guys. Look, those two guys? They’re pros now. They’re going to line up. They’re going to play. I’m not worried about that. I think this week helps us though,” Edwards said.

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