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Herm Edwards, ASU familiarizing themselves with fanless stadiums

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)

The 2020 Pac-12 football season is scheduled to kick off Nov. 7, but questions remain as to when or how many fans will be allowed into stadiums.

Not waiting for the other shoe to drop, Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards is proactively getting his players — as well as a handful of new coaches — prepared and used to taking the field, fans or not.

“Saturday will be more of a mock game procedure on how we go into the stadium, how we do our pregame warmup, everything we do in pregame,” Edwards told reporters via Zoom on Wednesday. “And then create somewhat of a game-like atmosphere in the stadium, a stadium with no fans in it because the likelihood of some of the places we play will have no fans, which is tough to deal with for everyone.

“You’re excited when you can walk into the stadium when you have a fanbase. Whether you’re on the road or at home, that’s part of the emotion, that’s part of the energy in stadiums. Now we’ll have to create our own energy so I think it’s important that we walk into a stadium, have them practice somewhat of a mock game without any fans and see what it really feels like.”

Doing his due diligence, Edwards said he reached out to other coaches who have already played this season, at the pro level and collegiate, to gauge just how different the atmosphere is going to be come the regular season.

Getting used to the new normal and being able to create their own juice were the key takeaways from Edwards’ chats.

“As far as the fans go, being in the stadium and not being in the stadium, it’s one of those situations where until you play a game you don’t know that feeling,” Edwards said. “I’ve never experienced it, I don’t think any of our players have. I think this will be interesting, I think we need to bring our own energy. … I’ve talked to some coaches … they said you can hear everything.

“You can hear the audibles of the quarterback, you can hear the defenses changing coverages. We’ll have some music and some noise, the ambience noise of fans with things happening in the game. But for the most part, both teams have to create their own energy on the sideline.”

One player Edwards won’t have to worry about bringing that energy is wide receiver Frank Darby, who enters his senior season as the team’s No. 1 receiving threat.

Named a captain this season and acting as a mentor to the younger players around him, Darby is undoubtedly the biggest spark the team has in the energy department. There is, however, an issue with Darby getting too hyped for his — and the team’s — own good.

“[Darby’s energy is] important, but the problem with Frank is he’s gonna be on the field,” Edwards said. I don’t want him doing double duty and running down the sideline getting guys excited because we need his energy.

“You know Frank’s personality, you know what he’s about, but I don’t want him to waste his energy, either. He has to find some kind of way to calm down and understand when the game starts, you gotta conserve that energy some.”

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