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ASU Football: Herm Edwards notebook

Edwards thoughts coming up on the Beavers

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Herm Edwards took to the podium on Monday for his weekly press conference. Here are a few things that stood out from his talk with the media.

An Improved Oregon State team

Last season, Jonathan Smith’s Oregon State Beavers bested Arizona State, 35-34. Edwards thinks Smith’s improved his team even more since then.

The Beavers have topped in-state rival, Oregon, this season already and have one of the most talented offensive players in the conference in Jermar Jefferson.

“Much improved football team. They beat Oregon when they were ranked ninth, that’s a big rivalry game for them as well. Had Washington on the ropes, just couldn’t get it in there toward the end. So they’ve been very competitive. Coach Smith has done a marvelous job of really recruiting players that fit his style on offense and defense. Very, very complicated offense. We dealt with them last year, multi-dimensional, a lot of tight ends, a lot of receivers, a lot of motions,” Edwards said.

“They boot, waggle, they do it all now. A lot of eye candy for a defense, and can get you in some bad situations if you don’t read your keys. They have a nice running attack, have a quarterback now that was installed in the lineup (Chance Nolan) and it seems like he’s starting to get confident in what he’s asked to do. Defensively, they improved. They’re a solid defense, don’t make a lot of mistakes. Have some pretty good players in the secondary, good linebacking crew. So this is a team that every year seems to get more talent and now, they’re under coach’s watch and he’s starting to develop a good program up there.”

Edwards team has had various issues this season, some certainly stranger than others — like the ineligible man downfield penalties against UCLA — but when asked what about the team and what he’s been most impressed with, this was his answer.

“I think our ability to pay attention to the details of what’s required, in all three phases. And really, I’ll always say, ‘It’s never about the opponent so much. It’s about ourselves. What are we doing to better ourselves, and how complete can we be in all three phases of football? And I think that’s the key to football. The more you play, the more you have experience of the competition and how players function competing against an opponent. I think this is good for us because we can build on this going into the spring, that we’ll get four, however many games we get in as I said earlier and find out a lot about some of the young guys. I think some of the young guys in this game kind of played better,” Edwards said.

“They played better than the USC game. Right? If you just watched us play the last three games, we had a lot of young players play and especially at the receiver position. Now, I say that and we only threw the ball 13 times but their effort and blocking part of it, (ASU freshman wide receiver) Johnny (Wilson) made some catches. We saw some guys all of a sudden, they’re kind of growing up which is what you want. On defense, a lot of young players on defense, especially the secondary and linebacker position. A lot of young guys played, and so those are valuable reps, believe it or not.”

Certainly when younger players start to figure out the types that change a loss to a win, that’s a sign of player development.

Player development generally means good coaching, and in the strangest college football season, Edwards and staff seem to be doing a good job in that department.

Turning 2020 into a Good Thing

Even for those that don’t play, 2020 has been an oddity. There have been times of struggles for all, but for the young men Edwards attempts to groom into great people, not just into great football players, he believes it’s in their hands to turn this year into a life lesson.

“I think your value system, what you value in life and your purpose. When that gets kind of disrupted, you got to check yourself and say, ‘How am I going to deal with all of this?’ I’ve said this numerous times, this is unprecedented for all of us, for everybody. Whatever job title you hold and whatever you do, this has been unprecedented. I think for a lot of us, we learn a lot about ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with and the people we work with, who we associate with. We find out a lot. Since March 8, we’ve found out a lot about who we are and how we handle something like this that we had no idea right now in December waiting for Christmas, that we’d still be dealing with this,” Edwards said.

“I think as the calendar switches and the new year comes in place, that we’re going to be on the backside of this. When we start next year and the season starts, we won’t have this discussion and [reporters] can be sitting in this room and I’ll have the ability to talk to [reporters]. I think we have to all really look at ourselves and look at our lives and ask, ‘What did I really learn about myself going through this.?’”