The hiring of Herm Edwards at Arizona State seemed most often to be described with one word: Weird.
From the decision to go with a 64-year-old who hadn’t coached in 10 years to the university’s description of how the coaching staff would work, the move late last year received a lot of scrutiny.
Edwards was envisioned as the program’s CEO to lead what the university called the New Leadership Model. Fans just wanted to know if he could still coach, or if his NFL record indicated that he truly ever found success.
Only two games into his college career, Edwards is starting to win converts as the Sun Devils pulled off a minor upset of previously 15th-ranked Michigan State 16-13 on Saturday night. Some perfectly executed clock management in the final five minutes led to a game-winning field goal in the type of game Edwards enjoys coaching.
“This was an old-time pro football game,” he said. “This wasn’t a college game. This was a rock ’em, sock ’em game. It was comfortable for me.”
Although it’s only two games, Edwards has earned the upper hand on another new coach in the state. Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin is 0-2 after a home loss to BYU and a 27-point loss at Houston.
The former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs coach did not take over a program in disrepair. Arizona State beat nationally ranked Oregon and Washington last season and finished 7-6. Yet, coach Todd Graham was fired.
But why Edwards? That’s what people wanted to know. Why a coach who went 54-74 in the NFL, had been out of the coaching business for a decade and was now better known for his work on TV and as a motivational speaker?
He’s trying to show everyone why as the Sun Devils face a stretch of three road games in four weeks, including a game at No. 10 Washington, before returning home to face No. 9 Stanford. His true worth is about to be determined.
In the wake of the win over the Spartans, Edwards was given considerable credit for a staunch defense and his handling of the clock — a basic coaching fundamental that is often botched.
After taking possession in a tied game with 4 minutes 55 seconds remaining, Edwards set out to have his team eat up the remaining time by staying in bounds and getting in position to kick a field goal. Easier said than done, the Sun Devils executed the plan to perfection.
Even with a first-and-goal with two minutes left, Edwards declined to go for the touchdown. Michigan State was out of timeouts, so he ran the clock and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Sports Illustrated summed up the moment with this headline on its website: “Herm Edwards, Arizona State Put a Stop to Jokes by Upsetting Michigan State.”
As a reward, Arizona State earned a No. 23 ranking this week.
KICKER’S RECORD DAY
When Utah State lost to New Mexico State in the Arizona Bowl last year, Dominik Eberle was likely at the top of the list of players on the losing team who placed the defeat on himself. Eberle missed four of six field goals, including one in overtime.
The teams met again Saturday, and this time Eberle could take a lot of the credit for Utah State’s win. He kicked six field goals and was responsible for 24 points to tie the NCAA record for points by a kicker.
Eberle was one of the nation’s best kickers last season but managed to have his worst game of the season in a bowl game. For redemption, he made three 51-yard field goals. For good measure, he sent 10 of his 13 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
GATORS LOSE, PLAYER TRANSFERS
Barely 30 minutes had passed after Kentucky wrapped up its first win over Florida in 31 years, when Gators running back Adarius Lemons decided to make an announcement on Twitter. The sophomore made clear that he was done in Gainesville.
“I would like to announce that I am transferring from the university of Florida,” he wrote. “I feel I’ve learned a lot from the previous coaches that were here. I want to find a school I can help to my best ability and actually use my talent that God has blessed me with.”
The highly touted recruit didn’t get a carry against Kentucky in the offense. He did have two kickoff returns for 47 yards.
Lemons was reportedly indecisive during the recruiting process, having committed, de-committed and re-committed to the Gators. Something to watch: Lemons was pursued heavily out of high school by Kentucky.
ANDERSON INJURY UNCLEAR
There was nothing but speculation Sunday after Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson suffered an apparent knee injury in Saturday’s win over UCLA. A healthy Anderson was projected in the preseason as a likely Heisman Trophy candidate.
He rushed for 1,161 yards in 2017 and had 17 catches for 281 yards. He accounted for 18 touchdowns. This season he had 119 yards on 11 carries before departing the UCLA game in the first quarter. He was in street clothes for the second half.
Photos: Wyoming falls to dominant Mizzou
In a dominant 40-13 victory for the Tigers, wide receiver Emanuel Hall finished with a career-high 10 catches on 11 targets for 171 yards and his third touchdown in two weeks. With the victory, the Tigers move to 2-0 for the first time under third-year coach Barry Odom.