Kenny Dillingham channels Herm Edwards to explain Arizona State's aggressiveness
Kenny Dillingham evoked the man whose job he took to describe his style. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. But what a coincidence it was.
“You’ve got to play to win the game,” Dillingham said Thursday night when he was asked about the Sun Devils’ aggressiveness on a fourth-down near midfield in the first half.
Just 3 yards into Southern Utah territory and tied on the scoreboard, the Sun Devils faced a fourth-and-8 decision. There was 5:32 left on the clock before halftime and ASU had just been punched off the field in three plays the possession prior.
Dillingham’s quarterback, freshman Jaden Rashada, had started hot and Dillingham wanted to keep the confidence flowing.
So he dialed up a shot play on fourth down.
Rashada rolled to his right, set his feet, and then fired 47 yards to Xavier Guillory for the score to go up by seven.
ASU 14 | SUU 7
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) September 1, 2023
“No risk it, no biscuit, right?” Dillingham said. “If you look back at the game, thank God we did.”
And on ASU’s next possession, a roughing penalty gave ASU the ball, first-and-goal from the 3, with two seconds until halftime.
Rather than play it conservative and take the easy points, Dillingham went for a touchdown. Rashada threw a fade ball to Troy Omeire, who came down with it to push the Sun Devil lead to 21-7.
“We trusted our freshman quarterback to make sure he catches and throws and if the ball’s incomplete we have one second left to kick a field goal,” Dillingham said. “Those two plays are the difference in the football game, when you look back on it.”
He’s right. Give ASU a field goal there and how does the fourth quarter change? Is Arizona State pressing more? Does the punt even happen that led to the block return?
ASU won by three in a game where it aggressively sought points in a first half that had the feel of a blowout.
“You have to be aggressive to win in college football, I firmly believe that,” Dillingham said. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re not going to play the game scared. Does that mean everything will always go in our favor? No. But we’re not going to play the game scared. We’re going to play to win the football game.”