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ASU football looks to salvage the season against USC

The Sun Devils will look to bounce back after potentially two season-defining losses

211030 ASU v Wash State

Washington State redshirt senior Jaylen Watson (1) scores a touchdown while being tackled by ASU defensive back graduate student Jack Jones (0) at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. ASU lost 34-21.


ASU Sun Devils look to put its season back on track as they host the USC Trojans Saturday night.

The Sun Devils have suffered two crushing losses in their last two games, first against Utah on Oct. 16 when they led 21-7 at halftime before collapsing in the second half, then last week getting outclassed by Washington State University 34-21 at home after a bye.

These losses make ASU's once-open route to a Pac-12 South title a suddenly very tough. ASU head coach Herm Edwards didn't have an answer for the way his team performed against Washington State.

"I wish I could tell you, but I have no answer for that, except that it happened," Edwards said. "We didn't react in a way that gave us a chance, and it's all about reacting to what happened to you. We didn't respond to adversity."

Edwards and his team will have to respond this weekend against USC, or their chances of competing for the Pac-12 South title are likely finished.

READ MORE: How ASU Football plans to rebound after back to back losses

ASU graduate student defensive lineman Shannon Forman echoed Edwards' confusion regarding the team's performance Wednesday, mentioning the team will come out much better on Saturday night.

"That wasn't us. I don't know what team was out there but we are going to respond better than that," Forman said. "We are sorry for that embarrassment but at the end of the day we are going to push forward and end this season strong."

In recent weeks, the Sun Devils played solid stretches of the game, but have been unable to play a complete 60 minutes of football, something Forman hopes they will change this time around.

"We've just got to punch them in the mouth and keep on going and just play like that for four quarters instead of two," Forman said.

Not succumbing to adversity — even when it inevitably hits during the game — is something that seems to be a talking point within the ASU locker room this week.

Fellow graduate student defensive lineman D.J. Davidson echoed Forman's comments regarding rallying back from difficult circumstances.

"(We're) just making sure that when tough times happen, we fight back and keep playing," Davidson said.

For an ASU roster chock-full of talent from the Los Angeles area, there will be a lot of familiarity on the field, which is sure to make this game an emotional one.

"It's one of those games where guys know each other, and there's always come chippiness when these two teams get together. There are guys that played Pop Warner football, high school football together," Edwards said. "We anticipate them coming in here and playing well. We (have) got to play a whole game, can't play in halves."

At 4-4, USC, like ASU, has seen quite a bit of turmoil in its program this season. The Trojans fired head coach Clay Helton on Sep. 13 after just two games this season. Additionally, the Trojans have had two quarterbacks see significant time this season in freshman Jaxson Dart and junior Kedon Slovis. There is a lot of uncertainty in Los Angeles about which one will earn the start.  The Los Angeles Times reports both quarterbacks have received first-team reps at practice this week.

ASU will catch a break, as USC will be without its best playmaker, junior wide receiver Drake London. The 6-foot-5 receiver fractured his ankle, which will cause him to miss the rest of the season. 

Last season, London finished with eight catches, 125 yards and a touchdown in USC's 28-27 win over ASU. In that contest, ASU held a commanding 27-14 lead in the fourth quarter before collapsing in the final minutes.

Despite the struggles in recent weeks, Edwards continues to have the utmost confidence in his team to get out of its current funk, starting Saturday night against the Trojans.

"I'm betting on our players that we are going to play and fight our way out of this," Edwards said.


Reach the reporter at ltochter@asu.edu and follow @Leo_Toch on Twitter.

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