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As No. 17 ASU visits No. 13 Utah, Herm Edwards not stuck on one style

Head coach Herm Edwards of Arizona State Sun Devils argues with an official in the first half of the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 14, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Then-No. 18 Arizona State’s football game against the Washington State Cougars on Saturday moved the Sun Devils up one spot in the rankings.

They outlasted Washington State in a high-offense game, winning 38-34. That’s a change in pace from the win at Michigan State in which ASU kept things tight defensively and won 10-7.

But just as one could say the ranked Sun Devils have shown competency in multiple areas this season, one could also use that as evidence to make the opposite point: ASU hasn’t limited its opponents to few points on the board every week, nor has its offense lit up the scoreboard every week.

But maybe that’s OK.

“It’s got to be complemented football,” head coach Herm Edwards told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Monday. “And you know every week, and I’ve said this numerous times, I think sometimes the perception of coaches is, ‘He wants to do it this way.’ My way is real simple: Once you determine what the gameplan is to win, that’s what you’ve got to do, period.

“Sometimes you’ve got to score, sometimes it’s got to be a low score, limit possessions, whatever it may be. But there’s a thought process that goes into it every week according to who the opponent is of how we’re going to have to play and give us the best chance to win.”

Edwards said after Saturday’s win over the Cougars, in which ASU got the deciding touchdown in the last minute of play, that he knew going into the week that it would be a high-scoring game. Washington State was leading the nation in average passing yards per game under head coach Mike Leach, and it wound up running 64 passing plays to just 10 run plays against ASU.

“I told Coach Leach, that’s one of the hardest offenses to try to stop,” Edwards said after the game. “He’s a mastermind. He is unbelievable, how they just can just go with the ball like the way they do it.”

Edwards and defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales did enough to limit Washington State, but up next is No. 13 Utah, which ranks ninth-best in the country in average points allowed per game (13.2) and 25th in the country in offensive yards per game (467.3). Beating Utah would add a heap of legitimacy to ASU’s season and likely move them up several spots in the rankings.

“We want to be in this situation a lot, because you want to live in these moments, and then it becomes normal,” Edwards told Doug & Wolf. “And then when you have teams that are always in that top whatever tier of teams, this is normal. It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, this is a big game.’ They’re all big. If you’re a good team, they’re all important. They’ve all got to be important to you.

“I like living in this space. I think it’s good for these young guys to feel it. Because we’re just trying to build a program here. We’re nowhere done with this at all. We’re going brick by brick, but I think the more they can feel this, it becomes normal.”

OddsShark had the spread between ASU and Utah this week at 13.5 points on Monday, favoring Utah.

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