Hello Spartan Nation! Football is back which means our Q&A segments are back as well (sorry for being a week late).
The Michigan State Spartans are 1-0 after beating Utah State 38-31 and are getting ready to face Arizona State. The Sun Devils recently hired Herm Edwards, long time EPSN analyst and NFL head coach.
That being said, we’ve brought in Brady Vernon, the managing editor from the SBNation site House of Sparky, where you can get updates on anything to do with Arizona State Football.
Brady was kind enough to answer all of our questions and give us a much needed insight into the Spartans next opponent.
Let’s get started!
Arizona State has an entirely new coaching staff this season. After firing Todd Graham they hired Herm Edwards who spent the last nine years as an ESPN analyst and has never coached in college. During his time as a head coach in the NFL he comprised a record of 54-74. In his first college football game he led ASU to a 49-7 victory over UTSA. Where do you see him taking this program moving forward? And how does the fan base feel about the coaching change?
Edwards won’t move this program by his scheme or game plans by any means, that’s what he’s put on his coordinators. However, he can get better recruiting classes and convince guys to come to Tempe as he’s been trying to do ASU will get out of the area of going for 5 to 7 wins and more into 8 to 10 every year. The fan base still has its doubts, which is reasonable. And it’s going to be awhile before everyone will be believe in the Herm train.
What were your predictions for this season prior to week one?
My predictions for the season was a team that was going to struggle on defense and have to fight to even get to six wins. Has my opinion changed after week one? Maybe, a little, but everyone has to see that defense compete against higher caliber teams than an inexperienced UTSA offense. Most of those guys were making their first start in a hostile environment and going down 14-0 in two minutes into the game killed any chances they had.
A closer look at @ASUFootball's blackout unis pic.twitter.com/nFCBaiiNIW— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) September 6, 2018
N’Keal Harry opened up the season with six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He had an amazing ‘SportsCenter’ type play where he avoided just about every defender the Roadrunners threw at him. What kind of production are you expecting out of him when going against the Spartan secondary?
Harry is going to get fed. That highlight play can be brushed aside by some because it’s UTSA, but he did the same exact thing against Utah in 2016. He’s a guy that wants to succeed in the biggest situations, and because of that I think he’ll have a fire to him Saturday night to try and carry ASU to win. In terms of a stat prediction we’ll go for eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Don’t be surprise if he gets a carry or two either.
The Sun Devils executed on both sides of the ball throughout their route of UTSA. Defensively, they recorded nine sacks (No. 1 FBS rank) along with numerous quarterback hits. Do you think ASU will have the same success against the Spartans? Why or Why not?
I don’t think ASU will have quite that much success. A lot of that success came from stopping the run so well, being up by so much early and facing young quarterbacks. Going against Brian Lewerke, I believe he’ll understand better of what to do when pressure comes. Also believe the Spartans will run the ball better and the game won’t be a blowout in favor of the Sun Devils. But ASU does have plenty of talented rushers and many different looks to give, so maybe four or five sacks on the night is possible.
Arizona State is undefeated against the Big Ten in their last nine home games. How does that factor in to Saturday night’s game? And what are three things they need to do to keep that streak alive?
I don’t know if the record factors into it, but I do believe the Midwest teams have struggled with the heat, and it’s supposed to get HOT on Saturday. To keep the streak alive ASU can’t abandon the run, even if they’re getting shut down, they got to keep believing in it. As said before, N’Keal has to make plays and so does quarterback Manny Wilkins. The penalties have to be cut down for ASU as well, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Spartans try to agitate cornerback Chase Lucas, who sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him.
What’s one match-up you will be paying close attention to? Why?
The ASU offensive line vs. the MSU defensive line. I’m not saying ASU has to win that war of the trenches, but they got to win a handful of battles to hang around against the Spartans. If there’s nothing going in the run game and Wilkins is constantly running for his life, it’s going to be a long night for the Sun Devils.
Prediction time: Final score? Who wins? Why?
I get the feeling that we’re in for a close one on Saturday, but when it comes down to the crunch time I think MSU’s experience has the advantage over a team like ASU that’s still trying to build a lot of chemistry.
Thank you to Brady and the House of Sparky for helping put this Q&A together and answering all of our questions.
Hopefully we can do it again sometime!