We might remember Arizona State’s 35-13 football victory over Colorado as the most significant victory of the Herm Edwards era.
Bigger than either win over Michigan State.
Larger than Oregon in 2019.
Bigger than the Arizona 70-6 pants in a pandemic. (OK, maybe this will always hold a special place in Sun Devil’s hearts and minds.)
But ASU needed this win like lemonade needs a cup.
“It was nice to bounce back from an exhausting loss like that,” Edwards said.
BYU’s loss rocked ASU fans. The NCAA recruiting survey sank the energy of the program. And Colorado (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) is not a good team.
If ASU (3-1, 1-0) had lost that game, all talk of the Rose Bowls and Pac-12 South titles and top-15 finishes would seem like a nutcase. These objectives are far, far from being achieved, but they remain realistic.
Next week’s UCLA game will determine first place in the South, but that wouldn’t be the case without the win over the Buffaloes.
“We had to regain our confidence as a football team and keep our composure,” Edwards said.
Edwards cannot rest.
The adversity his team faces is well documented.
He lost three assistant coaches who were sidelined during the investigation. Those extra eyes and voices could identify weak points and improve the technique of a group that has been the most penalized (least disciplined) team in the country.
He’s losing some NFL hopes with running back Chip Trayanum and cornerback Chase Lucas.
And he’s on a whole defensive line, it seems. Jermayne Lole, Amiri Johnson and Travez Moore are all absent.
Edwards will need his team at the top of their game, every game, and he knows it.
“We have eight Pac-12 games left,” he said.
Everything went well for ASU against Colorado except for the running game, which wasn’t as dominant as it has been. The Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (226.3) but only mustered 167 against Colorado — 75 of which came from quarterback Jayden Daniels.
ASU needs the running game to match its head coach’s personality, but more importantly because this team isn’t set to win with its aerial offense.
Receivers are dropping too many passes to rely on that aspect of the game, although Jayden Daniels and Johnny Wilson were able to find some chemistry.
Wilson had four catches on seven targets for 70 yards.
If they can continue like this, it will prevent opponents from stacking the line to prevent the run from stopping, which Colorado did.
Another thing that will keep defenses honest is ASU’s offensive lineup of trick plays.
There was a touchdown from Elijah Badger on a backhand.
“He’s one for one,” Edwards said. “Touch the ball once and run for a touchdown? That’s a good average.”
There was a double pass from Daniels to Ricky Pearsall to Rachaad White which ended in a score.
“I saw that in training,” Edwards said. “I said, ‘Really? He’s going to do this?
And there were all kinds of designed quarterback rollouts and runs that yielded big chunks of yards.
“Players like to do stuff like that…I’m an old school guy, especially in the red zone. Don’t waste it,” Edwards said.
“When it works, what can I say? That works.”
ASU needed this win.
And if they make it to the Rose Bowl, if they finish atop the Pac-12 South, if they land in the top 15, we might remember that win over Colorado as the game that made it all it possible.
If all of this happens, it could be that we consider this the biggest win of the Herm Edwards era.
There’s a lot of Moore where that came from. Subscribe to receive videos, columns, opinions and analysis from the award-winning Arizona Republic sports team.