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Herm Edwards loves level of depth on Arizona State’s roster

Arizona State coach Herm Edwards watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Oregon State won 35-34. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Things are beginning to fall in place for Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards and his staff as they enter their fourth season in Tempe.

That’s the takeaway from Edwards’ opening media availability of the spring football season on Wednesday, as the longtime coach expressed optimism at his team’s makeup at the moment.

“We look good coming out of the tunnel,” Edwards said. “That doesn’t win games for you, but we look different at all positions, I mean at every single one of them, we look different.

“We’ve got a little bit of size to us, and so that’s kind of what we were trying to do. And now, you look at it and go, ‘Oh, OK.’ So it’s kind of fun to watch.”

Edwards’ excitement comes from the team’s improved depth across the Sun Devils’ roster, sporting a depth chart that the fourth-year head coach thinks is full of talented players.

He believes this year’s team, thanks in part to the NCAA’s decision to allow all seniors to return for a fifth season of competition, has the best depth of any he’s coached at the college level.

“It’s kind of funny, I’ve never been in a position where you have three-deep here,” he said. “We’re three-deep now. We’ve got a third team that can go in there on both sides of the ball.

“So that’s interesting because we’ve never had that since I’ve been here. But we’ve kind of built up the depth of the roster. Now what helps you is obviously the pandemic year where everyone came back, but it’s kind of interesting to see now that we have three groups.”

Who says you can’t go home again?

Edwards addressed the team’s lack of roster turnover during the offseason, saying the players’ commitment to the program shows the connection that’s been built over the past three seasons.

“It says a lot about the coaches that coach them really and that they trust the men that are in their life,” Edwards said. “And there’s a lot of conversation with a lot of them that thought about entering the NFL Draft.”

The former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach added that both he and his staff welcome players’ decisions, regardless of whether they stay in Tempe or depart for the NFL or the NCAA’s transfer portal.

In the end, however, Edwards believes that next year’s team will have an increased level of talent across the board, thanks to the effort they’ve put in during spring practices like Wednesday’s.

“You look at this football team, if some guys do what they anticipate doing, there are some guys here who will have an opportunity to get a chance to play at the next level,” Edwards said. “And we preach that. I think that this could be one of the bigger classes since I’ve been here that have a chance to move on.”

You’ve got to score

Perhaps Edwards’ greatest task ahead of the 2021 regular season will be increasing the team’s offensive output.

That effort starts with offensive coordinator Zak Hill and his work with junior quarterback Jayden Daniels.

Edwards, whose defensive pedigree that includes playing cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles and serving as a defensive coach with the Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he and Hill are on the same page on continuing the Sun Devils’ offensive success in 2020.

“I’ve already told Zak, ‘Hey, you’ve got to score.’ In college football, you’ve got to score,” Edwards said. “I’ve live my whole life — whether I was playing in Philadelphia and holding people to 10 or 12 points, or whether I was in Tampa, or in New York or Kansas City — you’ve got to score, you just do. And I think college football allows you to do that.

“Now you have to have people in place that allow you to do that. The quarterback can’t do it alone. And it’s the skill people and it starts up front. When you have an offensive line that allows you to run the football but also protect the QB, you’ve got a chance to score points.”


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