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ASU’s Herm Edwards learning more about individuals with each game

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — There are a number of variables to consider when throwing young players into the college football mix.

Can they mesh with the players already established on the team for a full season? What’s their mentality like when things begin to get away from them?

Those questions are magnified even more for the Arizona State Sun Devils, who boast more than 26 freshmen on the roster and playing in games.

Sitting at 4-1, the Sun Devils have fared well five games into the 2019-20 season. Though the team’s lone loss came against Pac-12 foe Colorado, ASU has held its own against ranked opponents, knocking off both Michigan State and California along the way and showing it can win with a young squad.

We’re at the point in the season where most all team’s know who they are, what they have and what they need to accomplish moving forward to achieve their aspirations.

As a whole, Edwards has a pretty good idea as to what his team possesses, but the head coach is seeing more and more from his players, something that’s only going to benefit both the athletes and the program as the season progresses.

“Every game’s a new experience … It’s always new to them,” Edwards said after practice on Tuesday. “I learn more about them every time we play, individually,” Edwards said. “Collectively, I’ve got a pretty good eye, but individually I think that’s more important for me is to know your players individually, how they function. So when the game is going I can have some words of encouragement, because every guy needs to be encouraged a little bit different.

“I’m real big on that, I’m real big on hope. No matter how bad that one play went we can get it fixed. … And so I think that’s how you touch players when the game is being played. … It might be a 10-second conversation but words matter, words are powerful during the course of a game because players hear that and what makes them go, what makes them think, ‘okay, coach is good, he just told me this and I’m all right.’ The more I find out about them, the more they play and the better coach I can be for them.”

Edwards’ plan of attack may have more to do with a player’s mentality than detailed X’s and O’s but that’s not a bad thing. Especially at quarterback, the most cerebral position in the game. Looking at where true freshman Jayden Daniels already sits in his first season, the approach could give the Sun Devils a large leap in the growth department.

Entering the bye week, the freshman signal caller has been a consistent presence in the offense. Through five games, Daniels has thrown for 1,247 yards and five touchdowns on 60.7% passing.

The numbers may not jump off the board to some, but with only one interception and an improved running attack, the QB looks to be filling in nicely for Edwards and Co.

Daniels isn’t the only freshman being relied on in the offense, either.

With LT Zach Robertson missing time due to personal issues and Cade Cote going down with a broken foot after earning the starting center job, the Sun Devils had to turn to a few new faces to pick up the slack in freshmen Dohnovan West and LaDarius Henderson.

The offense still needs to find ways to put more points on the board, but has shown improvement in both the rushing and passing attacks as the season’s progressed.

A big part of that has to do with how ASU’s young players are responding to the call. But more importantly, it’s how Edwards its getting through to his guys that’s impacting the end result on the playing field.


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