Lack of bodies forced ASU to play 2 OL on D-line for 1st time vs. Wisconsin

Dec 31, 2021, 1:35 PM | Updated: 1:43 pm
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards speaks with his players during the first half of the Las Vega...

Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards speaks with his players during the first half of the Las Vegas Bowl NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/L.E. Baskow)

(AP Photo/L.E. Baskow)

Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards left no stone unturned when it came to preparing for Thursday night’s Las Vegas Bowl, which the Sun Devils ultimately lost 20-13 to the Wisconsin Badgers.

ASU already had a long laundry list of nine key players from the 2021 season who were unavailable to play for various reasons coming into the matchup, which only grew to 10 with a mid-game shoulder injury forcing the departure of safety Evan Fields.

As a result, Edwards had to put a couple of true freshman offensive linemen in on the defensive line despite neither player having played the position before.

Those two players were the 6-foot-5, 312-pound Armon Bethea and the 6-foot-7, 325-pound Sione Veikoso.

“I thought for the guys that had to play — we had two offensive players in there that were playing defensive tackle as well,” Edwards told reporters postgame. “We put them in there this week. We said you’re going to have to play because we don’t have enough bodies.

“We were a little short, but I thought our competitive effort was really good with the guys that had to go in there and compete. I’m proud of them. I told them what you guys have gone through this season, I wouldn’t take any other team but you guys to be quite honest. For all the things this team has been through…  It’s been a long year for everybody.”

The duo may not have registered a stat in the final box score, but their presence and willingness to play a different position for the betterment of the team did not go unnoticed by quarterback Jayden Daniels.

“It always happens with bowl games. It’s the next guy up, it’s a chance for the young guys to showcase their talents in the game,” Daniels told reporters postgame. “I felt like everybody made plays, stepped up.

“I give credit to Armon Bethea, Sione on the D-line just that week — never played D-line before. They just filled in. You could see everybody was hungry to play. At the end of the day, we just came up short. But I give kudos to all the young guys who were hungry to play.”

Arizona State was without the likes of No. 1 and No. 2 cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Jack Jones, starting linebacker Darien Butler and running back Rachaad White, as all four opted out to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Sun Devils were also missing two starting offensive linemen in center Dohnovan West (thumb surgery), right guard Henry Hattis (knee), plus nose tackle D.J. Davidson (concussion).

ASU did not have wide receiver Johnny Wilson or backup running back DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum, either, as Wilson transferred to Florida State on Dec. 23 while Trayanum transferred to Ohio State on Saturday after entering the transfer portal on Nov. 29.

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Lack of bodies forced ASU to play 2 OL on D-line for 1st time vs. Wisconsin