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ASU’s Herm Edwards eager yet anxious with return of Pac-12 football

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Picture a kid on Christmas opening their toys and the smile on his or her face as they begin unwrapping gifts.

That’s basically sums up how Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards was feeling Friday after the Pac-12’s decision to resume play in 2020.

But even with the feeling of college football back in action in the Valley, the head coach realizes this is a whole new ballgame. Not one person in the conference has been put through this type of situation.

Throw in the inability to really get those live game reps ahead of conference play, and there are some areas of the game that must be cautiously approached.

“A little anxiety because I watched the National Football League not play any preseason games and I’ve watched 70 injuries in the last two weeks … Now everybody understands why we have play preseason games,” Edwards said on a Zoom call with reporters on Friday. “You have to get ready to play and there’s a way of doing that when you have competition.

“All of a sudden your first live competition will be against an opponent in your conference. How does that look? How does that feel? … Until you actually play in a live game in a competitive conference, I don’t know. I worry about stamina of the players, to be quite honest, to play a whole football game when they haven’t played in one. I worry about execution. I worry about the situations, how will they handle situations in football.”

The play on the field is yet to be seen, but for Edwards, he trusts his players have weathered the storm the coronavirus threw at them.

Edwards is just ready to see his players back in action, return back to a somewhat structured schedule and putting that work in. And from the looks it, the athletes are already getting locked in.

“They did a kinda back and forth trying to figure this out emotionally and they’ve done a really good job of staying focused on what they can control,” Edwards told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “I told them the only thing they can control is coming to work every day. And they did that and now have been granted the chance to play and obviously they’re excited. Very excited. I went down to the weight room today and you could just see a different focus and a different attitude and spirit amongst the players.”

As for ASU’s opponents? That’s still under wraps. What isn’t, though, is the format of the season.

Each team will play six games with a chance at a seventh, which marks the Pac-12 Championship. The weight of the games this season outweigh any other year. With just six games to get their bearings, Edwards and ASU see the bouts almost like playoff scenarios.

The season may be noticeably smaller, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with a full 2021 season still a solid possibility.

“I think it was important in this sense if we were going to try to do it, the sooner the better,” Edwards said. “Because what you don’t want to do is mess around with the 2021 season. You gotta keep that whole. You don’t want this season to affect the 2021 season.

“And I think that was the mindset of all the coaches, the people who made the decision, whether it was the ADs or the presidents. They knew that the ’21 season was important and to try to get this in, this ’20 season in, as quick as possible as long as it was safe. And obviously with the new testing protocol that really cleared a big hurdle for us.”


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