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ASU ‘regrouping’ after USC loss, hopeful Frank Darby will play vs. Cal

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It was a tough loss for the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday morning.

After taking a 13-point lead deep into the fourth quarter, ASU was on the losing end of things when the final whistle blew.

Obviously, the game didn’t go as planned for head coach Herm Edwards and Co., but there’s still positives to take away from their 28-27 loss to USC.

You can’t get better unless you build off past performances.

“We’re back in the mode of trying to regroup, started with the players [Sunday],” Edwards said via Zoom on Monday. “You can imagine how they felt along with the coaching staff but we have to put that behind us now and move forward.

“There’s a lot of learning moments, teaching moments we can use for an opportunity to get better as a football team, so I think we’re looking forward to doing that this week.”

The Sun Devils once again rely on their youth in 2020, with several freshmen either starting or playing meaningful reps for ASU. Any sort of experience is good experience.

For the most part, the young guns rose to the occasion.

Freshman DeaMonte Trayanum led the way for the running backs room, rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries (7.0 yards per attempt). As for the pass catchers, freshman LV Bunkley-Shelton paced the wide receiver corps with four catches for 28 yards.

Newcomer and junior running back Rachaad White got his feet wet in his first showing with the Sun Devils, totaling 176 scrimmage yards and added a receiving score in the defeat.

“You gotta play. Only way to get experience is actually play. We’ve been fortunate enough to allow players to play,” Edwards said. “I can remember our first season here … young freshmen playing early. We went through that.

“Last year, some more young freshmen come in and play on the offense line. This year at the receiver position and at the running back position. … The greatest teacher for experience is actually letting them play. How they grow from it is important. Hopefully they can grow up sooner than later.”

On the coaching front, the USC game marked the first outings for offensive coordinator Zak Hill and co-defensive coordinators Marvin Lewis and Antonio Pierce in their new roles.

The familiarity between Edwards and his coordinators, most notably Hill, in live game situations will grow. But it will take some time for one another to get each other’s tendencies in the moment.

Luckily for Edwards, he believes having Hill down on the sidelines as opposed to to up in the booth is a way of expediting the process.

“Assignment-wise there were some errors, there were some alignment errors but I thought for the most part, players did a good job of regrouping at halftime and doing some things better,” Edwards said.

“But until you get into a live football game with a new staff on the sideline, the operation of the sideline, Zak’s first time being on the sideline as a playcaller [that’s going to happen]. That was new for him.”

Edwards hopeful Frank Darby can play vs. Cal

It was a hard-fought battle against the Trojans on Saturday, with a few Sun Devils leaving the game due to injury.

One of them was senior starting wide receiver Frank Darby.

The wideout was unable to finish the contest vs. No. 20 USC due to a rib injury suffered in the first half of the 28-27 loss. He had reeled in just one catch for two yards before exiting.

Edwards couldn’t give a definite answer as to what Darby’s availability will be against the California golden Bears on Saturday, but remained optimistic Monday afternoon.

“We’re OK, we’re a little sore. It was a physical football game but I anticipate most of our guys will be ready to play,” Edwards said. “I’m hoping Frank will be available to play. I do think he will be. We’re sore … USC’s probably sore as well. But I think we’ll get through that this week and be ready to play again.”

Both ESPN and Pro Football Focus ranked Darby as a top Pac-12 draft prospect ahead of the season after the wide receiver finished with 31 catches for 616 yards and eight touchdowns.

He was also selected as a team captain in his senior year.


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