A new year brings a renewed sense of optimism for the Arizona State Sun Devils football team.
After the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season left ASU with only a 2-2 record, head coach Herm Edwards is confident in what the 2021 Sun Devils can bring to the table as he heads into his fourth year at the helm.
“I knew I was going to have fun, but I never knew it would be this much fun,” told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday.
“Especially when you say four years and you’ve watched the growth of the team and the type of players that we’re able to recruit now and just the foundation that we’ve built over the last four years. It’s headed in the right direction.”
The head coach revealed that the first official practice of spring ball will be on March 3.
Edwards said he was watching conditioning drills and could see the leadership and maturity from his players, especially those that started as freshmen in the head coach’s first two years at ASU.
“The team runs it. It’s a beautiful thing to watch,” he added. “The players on the team are holding each other accountable and it’s like they’re growing up, they figured it out.”
Edwards mentioned that there’s an “aura” on the defensive side of the ball going into next season, as the Sun Devils will have the most experience they’ve ever had under defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce.
“We have a lot of guys that can come back. You feel comfortable when you watch them line up,” Edwards said. “These guys have played with each other a lot and they have a little aura about them right now.
“Now we still have to go out and do it — there’s a lot of road to still travel — but the aura of the team is different, you just feel it.”
On the offensive side of things, Edwards watched a simulated practice on Monday in which the team didn’t actually have a football, but still lined up and ran the offense at full speed.
“The quick movement and the pace — it was interesting that all of a sudden, they were just able to flow,” he said. “The offense looked like they had done this before. You can just tell in the confidence in the players that those four games were important. That season was important to us to establish that.”
And with all the hype surrounding the 2021 Arizona State football team, Edwards hopes to once again play in front of a raucous crowd at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
“We miss them. We miss their passion. We miss the excitement of them being in the stands. There were a few last year, but we want to get it going again,” he said. “I think everything that they’re hearing and reading right now, they’re excited about watching us. We don’t want to disappoint them, but we need their support.
“We cannot wait until that crowd walks back into that stadium because there’s nothing quite like it. When that thing is full, those fans, they’re a 12th player for us to be quite honest. And we missed them. I missed them last year, I truly missed them.”