A culture shift and alterations to practice regiments are common under any new football coach hire. However, head coach Herm Edwards has substantially modified the dynamic of Sun Devil football in just a handful of months.
In Edwards’ inaugural year, he’s parted the Kajikawa football practice field gates for both fans and media.
Supporters and reporters are welcomed into each spring practice with a roster and are permitted to stay for the duration of ASU’s practice. If that’s not enough, Edwards’ bag of surprises may not be empty just yet.
“Wait until you see the spring game,” Edwards said. “Wait until you see how we handle that, you'll be in shock. We'll shock a lot of people when that starts, just wait and see … I know what I'm doing, in other words.”
Nevertheless, the loftier changes have come on the field.
“It’s practice five and I still feel good,” redshirt senior safety Jalen Harvey said after last week’s Thursday practice. “With coach (Todd) Graham, practice two it feels like ‘dang, like my shoulder is nicked up’. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Both coaches are getting the same amount of energy, but I just feel like it’s not a whole lot of bang, bang.”
There’s not a lot of “bang, bang,” because the Sun Devils have yet to go full live tackling. After last Friday’s practice, that’s about to change.
“They want to play tackle football very badly, but before you play tackle football, you've got to learn how to practice,” Edwards said. “That's been my emphasis the last six practices. We've got to learn how to practice.”
Now into the third official week of spring practices, the Sun Devils will go full live tackling. However, live tackling doesn’t mean the coaches tolerate swearing.
"Coaches are teachers,” Edwards said. “I always say 'watch your language,' it's important. Because families are out there, kids are out there, recruits are out there, parents are out there and I just think there's a way you teach, and I think it's important.”
In count, the practices appear less intense, but with equal if not more energy from players and coaches, media and fans are free to watch and record the entire practice, and cuss words no longer ring throughout the field.
Fans and media are bound to vary in opinion on the revamping of ASU football, but the players seem to have a consensus.
“You have your own swag, you have freedom,” redshirt sophomore cornerback Chase Lucas said. “But like I said man, when it’s time to work and when it’s time to get the job done, he’s going to rely on you, and he’s going to be hard on you … and 63-years old or not, he’s like 18, 19 to us.”
Lucas, who in 2017 worked his way onto the USA Today Freshman All-America Team and received Pac-12 second-team honors, is primed to be the Sun Devils’ No. 1 cornerback this season.
As a visibly confident and productive player, Lucas said there were times last season where he played scared, but not of the opponent.
“Looking back on it, it’s kind of like everybody was so scared of (Todd) Graham, but they weren’t scared,” Lucas said. “We just didn’t want to mess up so we couldn’t play.”
The former Chandler High School Wolf said Edwards and ASU’s newest coaches, many retired NFL players, offer chances to correct play that falls below expectations before being pulled or swapped for a teammate.
“I love everything about this program,” Lucas said. “I love Arizona State. I’ve loved Arizona State since I got here, but now I really love Arizona State.”