Herm Edwards preps Arizona State for 1st road game with fans since 2019
TEMPE, Ariz. — The No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils are preparing for their first real test of the 2021 season this week.
After a 2-0 start to the year, ASU rounds out the non-conference schedule with a road game at the No. 23 BYU Cougars (2-0) at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards — who was recruited by legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards in 1972 — is less concerned about the ranked matchup and more focused on preparing his team to play in front of a crowd on the road for the first time since in two years.
And since Week 4 of 2019, BYU is 11-0 at home with two victories over ranked opponents, the second of which was a 26-17 Cougar win over the then-No. 21 ranked Utah Utes last week.
“Going up there playing is a tough task. It’s loud and it’s our first road game,” Edwards said at his weekly Monday press conference. “This is kind of what you want to experience as a football team. Kind of figure out what you are. …
“They got a great fanbase. It’s going to be loud. Couldn’t go into a better venue if you think about college football. They talk about all these other venues — they have a nice venue there and do a great job of supporting their team so you better be ready to play because it’s going to take four quarters. I think our guys are excited about the opportunity to play as well.”
The Arizona State head coach iterated the importance of not getting off to a bad start when playing away from home.
“Don’t get off to a bad start when you go on the road. That’s how I look at road games,” he said. “You don’t get off to a bad start. Because if you get off to a bad start, then you’re fighting two elements: the 11 guys on the field and the crowd.
“When you go on the road, you think different. You just do. Because you’re fighting two opponents. You’re fighting the emotion of a crowd, the noise and you’re fighting a good team on the field.”
Instead, Edwards will look to junior quarterback Jayden Daniels and Co. to continue to move the ball on offense in order to take the BYU crowd out of the game.
“Doesn’t mean you have to score, but you have to move the ball,” he said. “If you go three-and-out, it’s like uh-oh. You kidding me, right? Then now they’re excited and all of a sudden their offense has the ball and the energy of the stadium goes up.
“So there’s a difference when you go on the road a little (than) when you play at home. … There ain’t gonna be many Sun Devils up there. There will be a few, but that’s what we anticipate.”
Edwards didn’t divulge much into exactly how he was going to prepare his team for their first road game, but the head coach made it known that he set a precedent on Sunday for how this week was going to be conducted leading up to Saturday’s contest.
“I’ll mess with them all week this week,” he said. “I’ve got some things to do. I’ve already been on the coaches a little bit.
“I’ve made my voice resonate in the building. It started Sunday. So the coaches are kind of getting where I’m coming from. The players will too. I can handle that. We’ll be OK.”
And after last week’s 287 yards on the ground in the 37-10 win over the UNLV Rebels moved ASU to 10-1 when rushing for over 200 yards in the Edwards era, expect to see the Sun Devils offense continue to run the ball in order to control the game, the clock and the crowd.
“When you go on the road, it’s just a known fact in football: the kicking game and defense travel and running the football — that’s what travels,” Edwards said. “Because they can play at any conditions. Sometimes conditions won’t allow you to throw it a lot, but you have to be able to run the football.”
— Edwards said all running backs will be available against BYU, meaning sophomore DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum (high ankle sprain) and freshman Daniyel Ngata (thumb) won’t be held out due to their respective injuries.
— The ASU head coach on the decision to bring junior kicker Cristian Zendejas back into the mix so quickly:
“We needed some consistency. … We’re going to get into some games where we need to make sure when we get inside the 30, we have a guy 90% of the time or more can make and who has done it. And he’s done it in some big games. He’s won some games with his leg for us. He was happy about the opportunity to come back because he didn’t go anywhere, so it kind of worked out for everybody.”