Herm Edwards pleased with bowl prep as shorthanded Sun Devils ready for Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards called the Sun Devils’ upcoming Vegas Bowl matchup with Wisconsin a “double chin strap” kind of football game.
“I think the players are excited about the opportunity to play a quality team like Wisconsin,” Edwards said following Tuesday’s practice. “They’ve got a fabulous program, very tough football team, physical team. A really good defense that doesn’t allow a lot of points doesn’t allow you to run the ball either…got 65 yards a game. Offensively they run the ball, got a tremendous back, and good offense. So it’d be a big test for us. But I know our guys are excited about having an opportunity to play in a bowl game.”
Opportunity is a good word. With opt-outs and injuries to a handful of key ASU starters, younger players who haven’t gotten much run this season should get a chance to shine in the bowl game. Notably, ASU will be down running back Rachaad White and starting cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Jack Jones.
“It’s good to see some of these young guys, how they’ve grown from the beginning of the season to right now,” Edwards said. “We’ve kind of been (shorthanded) all year. We didn’t have the same roster when we left training camp … and, obviously, going into this bowl game it’s not the same roster we had during the season. But that’s fine. We’ll play the players we have. We have some young guys that are excited about the opportunity. I told them, ‘Let’s see how excited y’all are when that big running back (UW’s Braelon Allen comes running out and you have to tackle that big guy.’
“It looks like Wisconsin’s got their full roster and good for them. Every team is a little bit different. We’ve kind of gone through this now in our bowl seasons were we seem to be missing some players at times. We get it. It’s been fortunate for us that a couple of guys were first-round picks and elected not to play. But the guys that are not going to participate, I anticipate them being on the sideline like they generally are for games. And we appreciate everything that these guys have done for us.”
Edwards said linebacker Darien Butler was “iffy” for the game. The Sun Devils’ second-leading tackler on the season, Butler has been limited in practice as he recovers from a concussion, but he has also effectively declared for the NFL Draft.
The other key piece missing for Edwards will be White, ASU’s leading rusher this season. He had 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging over 5 yards a touch this season, but has already declared for the NFL Draft and intends to sit out the bowl game. Complicating the running back picture is the transfer portal entry from White’s backup, DeaMonte Trayanum. The sophomore had 401 yards and six touchdowns on 78 carries this season.
Next man up: Daniyel Ngata.
The second-year freshman back had 45 carries for 286 yards and three scores this season.
“Ngata obviously is excited about the opportunity, and (George) Hart, one of our walk-on kids, is excited about having an opportunity as well,” Edwards said. “These practices are big for them, and they’re on a big stage. It’s good for you because you go into the spring now, knowing a little bit more about those guys.”
Edwards said he has generally been pleased with the way his team has attacked bowl practices so far. The team is expected to report to Las Vegas for on-site bowl prep the day after Christmas. The Sun Devils (8-4) and Badgers (8-4) meet on Thursday, Dec. 30, for the Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.