It’s very easy to tell how much a team has to play for by how they show up on Saturdays.
Having something to play for is a very loose term. Teams like Georgia and Alabama have a lot to play for in the way that they are competing for a national championship. Teams like Oregon State also have a lot to play for in the way that the team loves it coach and want to defend its home stadium and continue to build the base for future success.
Herm Edwards said the Sun Devils had a lot to play for a few weeks ago after an embarrassing loss at home against Washington State.
Every ASU game I watch, it looks like the most experienced team in the Pac-12 has less and less to play for by the week.
Oregon State is not more talented, or more experienced, or more athletic than the Sun Devils. But the Beavers are a better football team.
The Beavers are disciplined, have gotten better as the season has gone on, and most importantly they play like they care.
After another lackluster Saturday night, Ray Anderson now finds himself at a fork in the road. He has two options, and neither one will pay dividends in the near future.
Anderson must ask himself another question, “where do we go from here?”
What “here” is, is in a season that was built up for months as the one that would finally put Sun Devil football back in the conversation as one of the nations best, the Herm Edwards led squad is limping their way into the final regular season game of the season having lost three of their last five with nothing exciting on the horizon (unless you get really jazzed up for the Alamo Bowl).
Now the decision that Anderson must make depends on whether he is okay with the current state of the program, or if he is serious about being a contender in the Pac-12 in the future.
Do you want to keep this coaching staff around and win six to eight games every season? Or do you want to clean house and start over?
This is supposed to be an article that breaks down the good, bad, and ugly from the Sun Devils but this article is going to be a bad, bad, and ugly because there isn’t anything good to say.
The First Bad - Jayden Daniels
Remember when people thought Jayden Daniels was a good quarterback?
Daniels has always had struggles. He rarely throws the ball downfield, he hates pushing the tempo, and pushing the ball and forcing the defense to play on their toes, and he doesn’t throw a lot of touchdowns.
The one thing that ASU fans, coaches and players raved about was how Daniels rarely turned the ball over. That praise has been thrown farther out the window than any pass that the third year quarterback has thrown this year.
Of the 11 games this season, Daniels has six without a touchdown pass, and has no more than two in any contest this year. He’s thrown eight touchdowns in 11 games and has thrown just as many interceptions. The ASU passing attack is far from potent (their best month of the season they only averaged 245 pass yards per game) but now everything they do that doesn’t involve Rachaad White looks impossible and I think Daniels is to blame for a lot of it.
The Second Bad - Discipline
The biggest indictment of this coaching staff (other than violating NCAA rules) is how unprepared their team is to play every week.
Saturday was no different than the other 10 games of the season. The Sun Devils committed 10 penalties, seven of which were false starts. On the season, ASU has committed 98 penalties for 874 yards. The Devils are one of the 10 most penalized teams in college football, and this issue hasn’t gotten eradicated.
The Sun Devils are a broken clock that is stuck at the same spot permanently.
The Ugly - The Coaching Staff
This coaching staff is filled with dead men walking, none bigger than Herm Edwards.
Edwards’ image isn’t a complex one. He was the coach who was supposed to be different than the other lackluster coaches who were supposed to revitalize a dormant program. He hasn’t.
In fact, the program is no better than it was four years ago.
The Devils have one more game to feel good about themselves, and luckily its against their lowly rivals down south in Tucson. However, the Wildcats have played hard. They aren’t good but they have fought, they play for Jedd Fisch and they haven’t forgotten about what happened last year.
I’m not saying that the Wildcats are going to win, but it will be very telling to see what a team that believes in its coach and has a lot to play for will do against a team that has phoned it in for the remainder of 2021.