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ASU football continues undisciplined play, falls to No. 23 BYU

The Sun Devils committed 16 penalties en route to their first loss of the season

ASU unlv sad.jpg

ASU freshman defensive lineman Gharin Stansbury (99) walks off the field after warming up for the game against University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. ASU won 37-10.

ASU football's early-season sloppy play persisted Saturday night, losing to Brigham Young University, 27-17 in Provo, Utah.

The sloppiness from the Sun Devils began in the opening seconds as redshirt junior wide receiver Geordon Porter fumbled the opening kick off, giving No. 23 BYU a short field, helping them score a touchdown within the first minute of the game. Porter's fumble was a sign of things to come, as ASU repeatedly shot itself in the foot with penalties and turnovers throughout the rest of the game. 

ASU head coach Herm Edwards has harped on his team's lack of discipline after the team's first two wins over Southern Utah University and University of Nevada Las Vegas. Following the loss Saturday, Edwards took accountability for his team's uneven play so far this season.

"The discipline of this team is not very good and it starts with me," Edwards said. "When you play a team like this on the road and you turn the ball over ... it's very difficult. We've got to get it fixed and we've got to get it fixed fast."

The 16 penalties, resulting in a loss of 121 yards, were the most in the Edwards era at ASU and the most penalties the team has committed since Oct. 28, 2006, in a game against the University of Washington. In addition to the penalties, the Sun Devils also committed four turnovers on the night.

Through three games this season, the Sun Devils are averaging 12 penalties per game.

"It's embarrassing and it's not a good look," Edwards said. "It starts with being more disciplined. Not putting ourselves in bad situations and we did that all night. We started in the beginning and didn't stop."

ASU trailed just 21-17 in the final minutes of the fourth with the ball and the chance to take a lead before their sloppy play came back to bite at a bad time. 

ASU committed three false start penalties on the same drive, causing the offense to stall out and punt. That implosion was in part due to the near sell-out crowd in Provo, which was a clear obstacle for ASU's offensive communication all night, according to ASU offensive coordinator Zak Hill.

ASU junior quarterback Jayden Daniels echoed Hill's comments regarding the crowd throwing ASU out of wack, citing the team's lack of experience playing in front of big crowds on the road, adding that the last time they did was against Michigan State on Sept. 14, 2019, which ASU won 10-7.

"The crowd noise got to us a little bit," Hill said. "They weren't able to hear Jayden's clap so we had to transition to a new way to snap the football. They got to us and rattled us a little bit, but we've got to be able to handle that adversity and get used to a bigger crowd like this."

Overall, Daniels was solid Saturday, finishing the game 21-29 with 265 yards but two of those incompletions ended up getting intercepted by the Cougars, both at inconvenient times. 

A real inflection point in Saturday's game came in the third quarter when ASU senior linebacker Merlin Robertson intercepted a BYU pass and returned the ball deep into BYU territory. 

Unfortunately for ASU, before he could score, BYU sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier ran Robertson down and made an incredible strip of the ball resulting in another Cougar jumping on the ball. Had ASU retained possession, it would have been in a prime position to score and take a lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Replay angles showed that Robertson might have stepped out of bounds prior to losing the ball but the ASU coaching staff didn't challenge as they weren't aware of the replay angle.

ASU will look to bounce back from the disappointing defeat as the team faces Colorado at home on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. MST. Preventing penalties has been a common theme for the Sun Devils in practices and will continue to be so after the disappointment on Saturday.

"We've got a lot to work on, but it's all about us right now it's about us fixing our errors," Edwards said. "If we can fix our errors will have a chance to win some football games."

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