Let’s cut to the chase, Arizona State is a more talented football team than the University of Texas at San Antonio. Does that mean the Roadrunners can’t pull off an upset in Tempe? Of course not, that’s why you play the game.
UTSA will come into Sun Devil Stadium with a very inexperienced offense, and a defense attempting to fill in the gaps created by graduates and their defensive coordinator’s departure.
The Sun Devils have their own new faces that will see their first action as starters on Saturday. One major concern is the possibility of communication errors and blown assignments for an ASU defense will lack of previous action in years before. As defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales explains it’s kind of scary for him.
“That [the inexperience] is very concerning. The fact that we have four guys that have played Division I football on defense. That’s a scary thought,” he said. “We’ve got seven of them that have really never played. That’s very concerning. Tackling, that’s very concerning. So I’m anxious to see our guys play with an edge. That has me the most nervous, just because of the unknown.”
Although, if the young Devil defense can limit the mental errors and take advantage of the ones a youthful UTSA offense will make in a road game, they’ll be in fine shape.
The offense for ASU however, is the one that can’t shoot themselves in the foot. Take a look back at the last time these two played. ASU committed three turnovers, while UTSA had zero.
Manny Wilkins threw a pick in that game, but it didn’t end up hurting the Sun Devils. But on two different punt returns ASU fumbled inside their own 25-yard line. Both fumbles led to easy Roadrunner touchdowns.
And if it wasn’t for a stretch of 20 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes, the Sun Devils would have lost due to their self inflicted mistakes.
Another concept from that game the Sun Devils can’t repeat is settling for field goals. In that win over the Roadrunners in 2016, former ASU — now Cleveland Brown kicker Zane Gonzalez went 4-for-5. All five times the drive stalled at the UTSA 36-yard line or closer.
To stop a lesser opponent from having a chance at a possible upset those field goals need to turn into touchdowns more often than not.
The last point of this game is that the players need to focus on themselves. A lot of this offseason in Tempe has been around the arrival of head coach Herm Edwards. Plenty of media around the nation have scrutinized the hire, and some even make fun of it. Of course Edwards doesn’t want to be a distraction to his team, as he mentioned in his press conference on Monday.
“It’s a players game, it’s not a coaches game. Coaches, we don’t play. I’ve always said that. I’ll go out the tunnel with them and say, ‘You guys go. This is your football team,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to help you win a football game. I’ll make some calls, make some decisions for you but I’m not going to play.”
There’s another aspect to Edwards’ presser that is most important thing the Sun Devils need to do on Saturday; have fun.
“I tell them all the time, it’s the first thing I tell the teams at the end of every speech, I say to them before they go out, I tell them this: ‘Just go have fun. Just go have fun because if you don’t have any joy playing this game, shame on us all. Just go have you some fun.’
As long as the Sun Devils are having fun and not beating themselves, ASU will be 1-0 after Saturday.