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Sun Devils moving on from loss, prepping for Cal on short week

Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin runs for a first down against Colorado during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State Sun Devils had only tasted success through the first three weeks of the season.

They had limited opponents on the scoreboard, while bolstering an offense that looked improved week-by-week.

Then came ASU’s matchup with Colorado.

While both sides went back and forth, it was the Buffaloes who would leave Tempe victorious, giving the Sun Devils their first feeling of defeat.

For the freshmen on the roster, the 34-31 loss marked the first of their collegiate career.

ASU has shown that it can find ways to be victorious, but it’s how it responds after getting knocked down that will show the team’s true grit and potential.

“I’ve always said this, kinda like everything else, when you’re winning it’s like a balloon,” ASU head coach Herm Edwards said. “You just keep expanding, expanding, and you feel good. You have all this energy. And then all of a sudden — it’s not that the balloon gets popped, it’s got a little leak. And now you’ve got to try to fix it because you like the energy, you like all that.”

Monday’s practice gave Edwards and his coaching staff their first glimpse of the 2019 Sun Devils two days after a loss.

A chance to not only assess the players and what needs to be done, but to bring some of the energy that was lost back onto the field.

From the sounds of it, they may have a bad taste in their mouths after the home loss, but understand the season is far from over.

“They’re disappointed, which is a good sign,” Edwards said of his team. “They’re not sad, they’re disappointed. They had an opportunity to do something and it got away from them. So now we’ve got another opportunity.”

There’s no time to wallow in the past, especially this week, as ASU speeds through a short week before a Friday night matchup with No. 15 California.

The Golden Bears come to town as the last remaining undefeated Pac-12 school in the conference, having knocked off No. 17 Washington in the process.

There’s no room for error.

With points potentially being at a premium, three of Cal’s previous opponents were held to 19 points or less, it’ll be imperative for the offense to run effectively behind freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels and junior running back Eno Benjamin.

Luckily for the team, the signal caller has remained unfazed following the loss.

“Nothing’s changed, nothing,” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “He said, ‘that one was on me coach’ and that was it. … He’s just like this [holds out level hand] everyday. And was out there today, had a great time, smile on his face. Just the same kid everyday, doesn’t affect him.”

The loss to Colorado proved to be Daniels’ best game as a Sun Devil, even with a costly interception late in the game. Completing 24 of his 39 pass attempts for 345 yards and two scores, the freshman showed he had the juice to move the offense down the field on multiple occasions.

The offense clearly had its best performance as a unit against the Buffaloes, with a big part of that coming from the offense line play.

“We’re not just going to throw Jayden Daniels — he’s the future of our program on offense — to the wolves and just drop back for the sake of dropping back. We dropped back against Colorado because we knew we could protect him.

“… Week-to-week, we’re always going to do what gives us the best chance to have one more point than the other team, and put our quarterback in a great position to not get whacked.”

Edwards doesn’t know what Friday night will bring in terms of a win or loss. But what he saw from his players Monday and the days leading to, the head coach now knows his team will remain competitive even while facing adversity.

EXTRA POINTS

– Redshirt freshman safety Cameron Phillips is dealing with a dislocated elbow suffered in Saturday night’s loss to Colorado.

Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales said Phillips would be a game-time decision, and added that he would be “shocked” if he played.

If Phillips can’t go, freshman DB Willie Harts will start his place, Edwards said.

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