ARIZONA STATE

ASU football’s defense a bright spot going into game at Michigan State

Sep 9, 2019, 10:26 AM | Updated: 11:16 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona State football head coach Herm Edwards was asked how he was doing on Monday. He said he was fine, until he started watching the film from Friday’s game. It was that sort of weekend for the Sun Devils.

That comment to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf is strange when you consider that ASU beat Sacramento State 19-7 and shut out the Hornets through three quarters, but not if you consider the performance of the offense for most of the contest.

The Sun Devils led only 3-0 at halftime over an FCS school on their home field in Tempe, an especially concerning sight with a road game against Michigan State coming up on Saturday.

The offensive line struggled, and as Edwards admitted, had a lot of missed assignments. It forced freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels — known coming in to college as a dual-threat quarterback — to use his legs outside the pocket to keep plays alive. Still, he managed to finish the day with 304 passing yards and 24 rushing yards.

“He’s been pretty good, to be quite honest, what he’s been able to accomplish the past two weeks,” Edwards said. “He’s done a pretty good job for a young guy, he really has. He’s been under duress, and he’s made some plays outside the pocket with his legs. He’s more nifty than people give him credit for. And he knows when the journey’s over. That’s the most important thing with him. I keep telling him that. ‘Hey, know when this thing’s over now. You get down, buddy.'”

But as the offensive line and other facets of the offensive side of the ball have come out of the gate slowly through two weeks, an obvious bright spot has been the defense. Arizona State has allowed only 14 points through two games, and sits at 21st out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, nestled in the rankings between Ohio State and Georgia.

“They’ve been pretty good. Can you imagine if the offense was just kind of flowing? People would be talking about the defense,” Edwards said. “We’ve only given up 14 points in two games. I keep telling [defensive coordinator] Danny [Gonzales], ‘If you keep doing that, we’ve got a chance to win a lot of games.'”

Michigan State is 13th in total defense.

“They’ve got a solid program,” Edwards said of the Spartans. “They’re just solid in all three phases. Really good defense.”

Edwards noted that the MSU defense has seven starters coming back and doesn’t give too much. The Spartans have a quarterback in Brian Lewerke (formerly of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix) who can make plays with his legs. Edwards also believes the Michigan State offense is more spread out now than it has been in years past.

Last year, ASU trailed No. 15 Michigan State 13-3 in the fourth quarter but scored 13 unanswered points to win 16-13 on a field goal as time expired. MSU (2-0) is now ranked No. 18 after home wins over Tulsa and Western Michigan, outscoring those teams a combined 79-24.

The Sun Devils won’t have the advantage of playing in the Arizona heat this time around.

Maybe it’s hard to ask a freshman quarterback to upset Michigan State on the road after ASU lost its top receiving threat to the NFL Draft this offseason in N’Keal Harry. But if the defense continues its stingy play and the offense can build off its mistakes after two weeks of play, ASU put up a fight in East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday.

You can hear that game on ESPN 620 AM at 1 p.m. MST.

Penguin Air

Penguin Air
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) warms up for the team's NCAA college football game against Sacramento State, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State safety Aashari Crosswell (16) tackles Sacramento State wide receiver Tao McClinton (81) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor watches the clock during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game Arizona State, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson (5) warms up for the team's NCAA college football game against Arizona State, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels, right, eludes the reach of Sacramento State linebacker Marcus Hawkins during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Sacramento State running back BJ Perkinson (21) runs as Arizona State defensive lineman Jermayne Lole (90) closes in during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson (5) throws a pass against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (2) leaps over Sacramento State defensive back Allen Perryman (30) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (2) pulls in a pass as Sacramento State defensive back Allen Perryman (30) pursues during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State's Christian Zendejas (45) kicks a field goal as punter Kevin Macias (44) holds during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Sacramento State, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State defensive back Chase Lucas (24) watches a Sacrament State play develop during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) is chased down by Sacramento State defensive lineman Josiah Erickson (44) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) tries to elude Sacramento State linebacker Armon Bailey (49) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) tries to get away from Sacramento State linebacker Armon Bailey (49) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson tackles Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State's Christian Zendejas (45) kicks a field goal as punter Kevin Macias (44) holds during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Sacramento State on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona State wide receiver Frank Darby (84) runs with a reception as Sacramento State defensive back Allen Perryman (30) pursues during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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