Opinion: Herm Edwards is bringing a much-needed energy to ASU football

The former NFL player and coach is breathing new life into the program

ASU football has a much different look with head coach Herm Edwards at the helm than it did with Todd Graham

While the vibe around the team this spring is almost completely opposite than it was a year ago, it is going to be a major plus for the Sun Devils this season.

Edwards brings an energy to ASU football the program hasn’t really seen before. He has NFL experience as both a player and coach, and his players have responded well to his instruction.

“Everyone has bought into what Herm is telling them,” said Anthony Totri, ASU football beat writer for The State Press. “It’s much more free. The players know what they need to do and why they’re on the field but won’t let that take away from the good time that is college football.”

Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson’s decision to hire Edwards has been analyzed and evaluated constantly over the past few months. Now is the time for Edwards to make a statement and show why Anderson made the right choice.

Coming off an underwhelming 7-6 season including a rout at the Sun Bowl last fall under Graham, it is important for Edwards to get his message across to players early. Players are more likely to play hard for a coach if they believe in what the coach is saying and know that coach has the ability elevate their play to some degree.

Edwards not only wants to make his players better on the gridiron, but he also wants to make them better humans, in general. 

“Herm is a ‘character guy,’” Totri said. “He wants to build you as a player and man, and he appears to be doing that. For the most part, he’s preaching focus. He wants his guys to be focused when it’s time to get in those game situations.”

Like practically all things with sports, it is difficult — if not impossible — to predict how certain decisions or players will pan out in the long-run. That’s why they play the games. But it looks as though Edwards is the right man for the job to get ASU back on track to being a formidable football team.

Although Kalen Ballage is on his way to the NFL, redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins and junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry will return this fall to form a dangerous one-two passing combination for opposing defenses.

The team may not be as deep in other areas as Edwards might want, but he and his coaches have weapons to work with this season, and Edwards knows why Anderson brought him to the Valley.

“(Edwards) knows he is here to win football games for ASU,” Totri said. “You can tell he wants to win. He has some concerns with depth on the roster, but, for the most part, he wants his guys to be ready for any situation.”

The Pac-12 is loaded with top football schools, like the University of Southern California, UCLA, UA and the University of Oregon, so Edwards has his work cut out for him if he wants to get ASU’s name in that conversation. 

Despite the challenge in front of him to coach ASU to the top, he is the coach best fit to take ASU football from mediocrity to excellence over the next few years. 

Reach the columnist at Steven.Slobodzian@asu.edu or follow @PSlobodzianASU on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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