The USC Trojans take on the ASU Sun Devils in the Coliseum on Saturday in an ever important Pac-12 South match-up. We spoke with Brady Vernon of SB Nation’s ASU site House of Sparky, about Herm Edwards and a Sun Devil team that is on the cusp of breaking their losing streak.
1.) The Herm Edwards hire was one of the biggest stories of the offseason. What was the feeling among fans when it was announced and what is the feeling about him now that he has some games under his belt?
At first much like others in the country, some fans thought the Edwards hire was somewhat of a joke. That has changed where people do see what is happening and there is progress. Edwards’ defensive staff hires of Danny Gonzales, Tony White and Antonio Pierce seem to be helping with recruiting and making the defense better. However, during this 1-4 spell the past six weeks people are getting frustrated with how the offense is being run.
2.) The Coliseum is a tough place to play for away teams, what are some keys to the game for ASU to get a win?
Sustaining drives and creating turnovers. ASU is doing well with their yards per play, but they get themselves in third and longs, and can’t seem to sustain drives. Most of the Sun Devils’ touchdown drives are due to one or two big plays, that usually includes the touchdown. As well as creating turnovers, something ASU hasn’t been able to do all year. This Sun Devil defense is better than expected, but allowing creating seven turnovers this season has been underwhelming. To win at a place like the Coliseum, where Clay Helton has never lost, that needs to change.
3.) Eno Benjamin and N’Keal Harry are monsters on the offensive side of the ball with 15 touchdowns between the two of them. Who are some of ASU’s leaders on defense?
The very young Sun Devil defense relies a lot on freshmen and first-year starters. One being freshman outside linebacker Merlin Robertson, the team’s leader in sacks with four. Robertson was raved about coming into ASU for being a very talented recruit, he has made plenty of key plays this year for the Sun Devils. Two seniors in Renell Wren and Demonte King has make their presence felt in games, despite their numbers not being flashy.
4.) ASU is last in the Pac-12 in time of possession averaging 26 minutes per game, what are some of the reasons for that?
It speaks in to what I was mentioning before with the inability to sustain drives. As well as the fact when they do score, it’s usually very quick. For example, ASU’s lone touchdown against Stanford, the drive lasted 1:44, their longest drive was 3:08 where they fumbled the ball. Edwards wants to run the ball, but when it becomes inefficient the team starts to lack any identity or production. The defense also struggles to get off the field at times on longer third downs that they should stop, creating less time for the offense.
5.) Give us a score prediction?
USC wins 31-20, ASU continues to struggle to score points and the first time all season lose by more than a touchdown.