A week before its season opener at home against Texas-San Antonio, ASU practiced Saturday night at Kajikawa practice fields.
With a week to go until the season kickoff, Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards is comfortable with ASU’s offense and sees the defense as a work in progress.
“I don’t know what we are yet,” Edwards said. “I don’t think anyone knows. We’re going to find out. The more we play games, the more we find out our strengths and try to play to our strengths. After Week 2 or 3, your team kind of forms its identity.”
Edwards accepts that “our offense will probably be ahead of our defense because they’ve been together (longer). Defensively we still have some moving parts. You’ll see a lot of young players on defense, that’s the way it is.
“That being said, I want to see our return game, how that looks. I hope we return more punts than kickoffs, that’s always good. But that’s going to be fun to watch.”
Junior college transfers Brandon Aiyuk and Isaiah Floyd are expected to be the main kick returners with Ryan Newsome and Ryan Jenkins among other candidates.
Aiyuk had 80- and 76-yard kickoff returns and 60-yard punt return while at Sierra College (Calif.). He also is contending to be a starting wide receiver.
“I feel like I can make an impact on both,” Aiyuk said Aug. 13. “But kick return and punt return is where I’m at right now. If I can show them I’m able to do a lot of things on the field (as a returner), they’ll definitely know I’ll be able to do it at receiver. So just take one step at a time doing the best I can whenever I get on the field.”
Floyd, out of City College of San Francisco, said he will play at running back and returner.
“Brandon is my boy,” Floyd said. “With me and him back there, we could be the best return group in the country. I could get the ball in the backfield, but I also can be a receiver, go out for routes, special teams. I’m a playmaker so I can do a lot.”
Both have flashed their speed during preseason camp, but Edwards needs to see it translate at the Division I level.
“I told both of them, first time you’ve ever played major college football,” Edwards said. “It’s not junior college where you make one guy miss and you can outrun everybody.”
ASU football coach Herm Edwards praised Arizona Sen. John McCain on Saturday after learning of McCain’s death.
Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral sports
On Sen. McCain
Edwards was informed of the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain after practice and spoke first about McCain in his post-practice comments.
“I never met him personally but from afar respected the man for what he stood for and who he was,” Edwards said. “I actually told my wife last night if I could I’d like to go see this man and speak to him. He is truly an American hero, there’s no doubt about it.
“I watched him when he was trying to run for president (in 2008). Some things were said about the guy that eventually won the presidency (Barack Obama), and the way (McCain) handled it was magnificent. He is a guy that brings people together. That’s a sad loss for our country to lose a man of his stature. We truly will miss that man. He did a lot for our country.”
Edwards’ father, Herman Edwards Sr., served in the Army in World War II and the Korean War and growing up in a military family had a major impact on Edwards and how he lives his life. That makes it even easier for Edwards to relate to McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“My father told me a long time ago our freedoms aren’t free,” Edwards said. “There’s people making sacrifices every day. We don’t know who they are, they’re away from their families for years at time, giving us the ability to coach football.
“We live in America. It’s the greatest country ever and always will be. We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but the freedoms that we all share together is a lot to do with the people that protect it for us.”
Edwards, 64, was hired in December, about the time McCain, 81, returned to Arizona for cancer treatment and to be with his family at his home in Cornville.
– Edwards was satisfied with the organizational work put in Friday night during a mock game walk through at Sun Devil Stadium that was closed to the media.
“It was important for all of us,” Edwards said. “Going up in the (press) box with the headsets and orchestrating the game. For the most part, it was pretty good.
“You need to know where to line up in pre-game. Some of these guys have never in that stadium. We created atmosphere like it was almost a game.”
– Offensive lineman Steve Miller was back practicing Saturday, a workout in shells, but tackle Casey Tucker was held out due to soreness, Edwards said.
– Linebacker Koron Crump is practicing more than at any time this preseason coming off a major knee injury that ended his 2017 season in the third game and could play some in the season opener.
“He’s not ready to play 40 plays, but hopefully this week he can get himself in shape where we can use him,” Edwards said. “He’s got some talent. He’s a little rusty and he’s probably out of shape when you don’t practice for that long. We’ll see where he’s at.”
ASU is off Sunday and Monday leading into game week. The Sun Devils’ next practice is at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday at Kajikawa practice fields.