ASU football comes out guns blazing in Herm Edwards' first game as coach

ASU pummeled UTSA 49-7 on Saturday night

The ASU football team kicked off the 2018 season with a 49-7 win over the University of Texas at San Antonio in head coach Herm Edwards' first game on the Sun Devil sideline.

In Edwards' first game, the team noticed his excitement, but that he also wants more from the team moving forward.

"Having a legend like Herm showed me a lot of things," redshirt sophomore cornerback Chase Lucas said. "We've got a lot of freedom, more than last year. We all got to respect that freedom." 

The Sun Devils received the ball to start the game, but they were forced back on the first play with a five- yard penalty. Following the early miscue, redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins wasted no time to go to his favorite target — junior wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

Harry caught two of the three passes thrown his way on the first drive, with the second pass resulting in a 58-yard touchdown catch. 

"This team feeds off each other a lot," Harry said. "I feel like we were clicking, not just offensively, but defensively. Our linemen were doing a great job tonight opening up a lot of holes and moving the ball really well. It was really just us feeding off of the whole team."

The Roadrunners were led onto the field by junior quarterback Cordale Grundy. On the second play of UTSA's first drive, Grundy was intercepted by sophomore defensive lineman Shannon Forman for a 25-yard pick-six. 

After the hot start in an exciting debut, the Sun Devils committed a few mental errors by punishing themselves with penalties.

Both teams could not find any momentum, with each team punting the ball three consecutive drives. UTSA struggled to find anything as the Sun Devils were in the right place at the right time throughout the night. 

ASU's offense over the course of the off-season heard talks about Wilkins needing a big year for the Sun Devils to have a chance to be a bowl team. 

ASU head football coach Herm Edwards walks off the field after a 49-7 win against UTSA in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Sep. 1, 2018.

After a somewhat slow start, Wilkins finished the game going 16-24 with 237 yards, four touchdowns and a quarterback passer rating of 204.6. 

The Sun Devils offense finished with 503 total yards, 237 passing yards and 266 rushing yards on 60 plays. 

The team continued to feed the ball to sophomore running back Eno Benjamin, and he eclipsed the 100-yard mark before halftime. He finished with 131 yards rushing and two total touchdowns. 

"It could always be better," Benjamin said of his performance. "The offensive line did a great job and I owe a lot to them. Being on the same page as them, understanding the situation we are in and knowing how the defense was set up."

Harry had another iconic moment in a Sun Devil uniform in the third quarter, when he made a dazzling reception that he took 31 yards into the end zone.

"I was just trying to make a play," Harry said. "That's something that really comes naturally to me when I'm out there. I feel like it's just natural God-given ability."

As for the defense, they incorporated a 3-3-5 defense, and it was showcased on Saturday. They held the Roadrunners to 220 total yards and just two yards rushing. Additionally, the defense recorded nine sacks, which is a new career-high after breaking a previous record that was broken in 2015.

If there was one blemish for the unit, it was the ejection of redshirt senior safety Jalen Harvey after he was kicked out of the game for targeting in the first half. Harvey will be able to play in next week's game.

The offensive line gave up zero sacks on Saturday. Last year, the team ranked 123rd in sacks allowed and Wilkins can't recall the last time that happened. 

"I'm really proud of those guys up front," Wilkins said. "They busted their butts all camp to be ready and prepare for this."

After jumping out to a commanding 42-0 lead after three quarters, the Sun Devils made substitutions for players to get some playing time. Redshirt sophomore Dillon Sterling-Cole took over as the quarterback with redshirt sophomore running back Isaiah Floyd sitting behind him in the back field.

Floyd finished with 79 rushing yards and scored his first Division I touchdown on a five-yard rush in the fourth quarter, and ASU did not allow the Roadrunners to get anything going all game until garbage time.

Next week, the Sun Devils will host No.11 Michigan State at 7:45 p.m. MST.

Reach the reporter at or follow @SebastianEman5 on Twitter. 

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