In front of the media, and HBO cameras for 247 College Football, Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards spoke at his weekly press conference as his team prepares for the Washington State Cougars.
Defending the Cougars’ Air Raid offense
On Saturday the Sun Devils will welcome the country’s best passing offense to Tempe. Washington State has thrown over 2,000 yards this season through five games and averages 450 yards per game. Under head coach Mike Leach, year in-and-out the Cougars have been able to replicate production at the quarterback position whether it be Luke Falk, Gardner Minshew, or now Anthony Gordon.
Edwards, who wants to team to grab more interceptions, talked about the ways to attempt to defend the Air Raid offense and the hopes he has for his team.
“I don’t know if you can to keep them under control, they’re going to move the ball,” Edwards said. “You can’t worry about yards it’s more about points. They spread you out, they use every bit of grass on the field...You can go two ways against these guys and you see it. Some people bring pressure and bring five or six guys and try to make him get it out of his hand and when he does that you have to be able to tackle in space, that’s the whole key, they put you in space, their athletes against your athletes, quarterback spreads the ball around, there’s about seven of eight receivers that have about 18 to 20 receptions as a whole so it’s not just one guy.
“So you can play pressure with him or you can drop eight. If you drop eight, now he stands back there all day. He’s going to move around some. He’s not going to run around but he’s going to move around to by himself sometime. You’ve got to cover your receiver, he gets in zone and you have to have a different mindset when you play them because the ball gets out so fast. That’s the difficulty of it all.”
Being a leader for young men
Edwards easy transition into the college football landscape thus far has been made because his love for being a teacher. He knows his job in Tempe goes far beyond the Xs and Os of football, beyond how far an athlete can throw a ball or how fast they can run. He wants to make his athletes on his team better men for the future and the world.
Edwards says he hasn’t changed in his style of that between the professional and amateur ranks.
“Leadership styles, for me, I don’t know if I’ve changed that much, to be quite honest,” he said. “I try to just tell them like it is. I tell them the truth. I don’t sugarcoat things. I’m always a guy that lets players know where they stand, what they need to do to improve because that’s what players that are motivated to being as good as they can be are motivated to do. You want to have a platform, you want to have a culture where they’re given an opportunity to do that. I think we’ve established that here, you look at all the young guys that have played, but I also know that, in life, people like consequences.
“And the ones that don’t, they can never improve. Just can’t. Because if you don’t know the consequences, then there’s no line. And there’s a line in life that you can’t cross. And if you cross it, there’s consequences. I think the players understand that, I don’t believe in belittling the players or belittling the coaches. I do it my way. And it’s generally with a conversation in my office, quietly, and I tell them what I expect out of them. And that’s what I do, I just, I expect certain things out of people. That’s just me.”
Thoughts on Mike Leach
Leach and Edwards are vastly different in the way they coach. Edwards also didn’t mention anything about a Pac-12 mascot battle royale — he’d probably pick the Duck for his daughter — The Sun Devil head coach did put out a good amount of respect for Leach.
“Coach Leach from afar, I’ve watched him from afar, and really kind of marveled at how he kind of goes about his business,” Edwards said. “He just kind of does it his way. I think what I like about the guy, he knows who he is and the players know who he is. There’s this consistency about the way he coaches. All I know is one thing, wherever he’s been they score a lot of points. I’ve had some conversations with him in passing, he welcomed me when I got hired here when we had the coach’s meetings. He kind of welcomed me to the Pac-12 and I’ve seen him from afar and I’ve talked to him a couple of times and he’s very bright.
“He knows football now, he knows a lot about football and they always score, I know that. They always score points and when you play his teams you better be ready because they’re going to figure it out.”
Brandon Ruiz Update
Edwards was clear that Ruiz still isn’t kicking and still won’t be playing.
“He’s still out. That’s kind of where he’s at right now. So we know who our kicker is (Cristian Zendejas), and we’re going with our guy. Good for him, because the more he kicks, the more confident he becomes. He probably doesn’t have the leg, but he’s been pretty accurate. You know, he missed the two (against Cal), but I trust the guy. He’s a hard worker, and he’s earned his scholarship now. He’s kicking, and that’s OK.”
UPDATE: Ruiz announced his decision on Twitter to transfer away from the program as a two-year grad transfer.
Check out the two recruits the Sun Devils added over the bye week, and watch for another potential one this week.