TEMPE, Ariz. — Gameday in Tempe is just 10 days away for Arizona State University's football team.
The Sun Devils have just nine practices remaining before they host Southern Utah in their season opener on Thursday, Sept. 2. The operative word at practice thus far has been “adaptability” and with several players experiencing their first fall training camp in triple-digit temperatures, adjusting to the heat has been a challenge.
ASU Head Coach Herm Edwards praised his student-athletes for making it through a tough, two-hour practice outside Sunday morning and mentioned how this could give his team an edge come the regular season.
“The stamina of a football team is very important, and I think when you can practice in those conditions it helps you mentally,” Edwards said. “When you’re in moments when it’s hot, how do you deal with that? I just think that that has helped us. I have looked over across on sidelines in games here early and it has helped us. I’m not making it up. It’s hard to deal with this stuff.”
ASU's roster is stacked with graduate students and seniors who are hoping to bring a PAC-12 Conference Championship to Tempe this year. Coach Edwards said there’s always been a strong sense of urgency to win, however, ASU has struggled to close out pivotal games in the past.
“I’ve always said: we didn’t lose, we just ran out of time. That’s kind of my statement when it comes to football. I’ve always felt that way,” Edwards said. “We can’t allow that to happen when we have games that we could put away. We gotta close them out and we can’t make errors in games where we give other people opportunities. If we can clean that up, we should be in good shape. We’ll be in a position like we’ve always been here for three years if you’ve watched us play.”
Edwards also provided insight as to how the dynamic between the coaches and players can be crucial when it comes to limiting emotional responses and errors during games. When asked to gauge his team’s discipline so far, Edwards’ response spanned nearly five minutes.
“We can play passionate but when you get to the emotional side of the meter, bad things happen. They just do,” Edwards said. “I think any time you get to the emotional state of how you think or how you react, 95% of the time there’s going to be an error. And then we always say ‘aw, I shouldn’t have got emotional’ you can’t do that because it hurts the whole team. We really talked about that going forward now.”
The Sun Devils cracked the AP’s preseason Top 25 rankings and they’re in the Conference Championship conversation but, as every sports fan knows, none of the preseason praise matters until it’s all proven to be warranted during the regular season.
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