Arizona State opens Herm Edwards era with 49-7 rout of UTSA
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Herm Edwards was a big winner in his return to the sidelines as head coach at Arizona State.
And he wasn’t at all satisfied.
Manny Wilkins threw for four touchdowns, two to N’Keal Harry, and Arizona State routed UTSA 49-7 on Saturday night.
“It was sloppy,” Edwards said. ”... I didn’t like I what I was watching a lot of times. The big plays are one thing but you play against good football teams you want to have sustained drives.”
Wilkins, entering his third season as Arizona State’s starter, completed 16 of 24 for 237 yards and left the game after three quarters with his team comfortably up 42-0.
“If you get a win out of not playing very well, playing sloppy, you take it,” Edwards said.
Edwards’ criticism aside, it was a dominating performance.
“We wanted to prove that Herm is a good coach and we wanted to prove we would run through a wall for him,” defensive back Chase Lucas said, “and that’s just what we did.”
Harry, a second-team preseason All-American wide receiver, caught six passes for 140 yards, including touchdown plays of 58 and 31 yards. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound junior did most of the damage with his legs on both plays.
Arizona State (1-0) outgained the Roadrunners (0-1) 503-220, including 266-2 on the ground. Eno Benjamin had 131 yards on 16 carries, including a 3-yard TD run. USTA quarterbacks were sacked nine times.
Next up is a much tougher opponent, Edwards warned, when No. 11 Michigan State comes to Tempe next week.
“The team coming in here next week, put your big boy pants on,” he said, “because they’re going to run the football.”
Even if he wasn’t satisfied, it was a highly successful debut for Edwards, who left his ESPN studio job to return to the sidelines. He hadn’t coached since he was fired by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 and hadn’t coached collegiately since he served as a defensive backs coach for San Jose State in 1989.
The Sun Devils took the opening kickoff and went 81 yards in four plays. The big one came on a short pass to Harry, who outran the defense on a 58-yard touchdown play. A half-minute later, Arizona State made it 14-0 when Shannon Forman picked off Cordale Gundy’s pass and returned it 25 yards for a score.
UTSA mounted its best drive of the first half, advancing to the Sun Devils 26-yard line. But Grundy dropped back to pass, was hit and fumbled. Darius Slade recovered for Arizona State.
From there, Wilkins moved the Sun Devils 64 yards in seven plays for another TD, Benjamin Eno plunging the final three yards for the score. Wilkins was 4-for-4 for 52 yards on the drive.
Harry’s most impressive play came in the fourth quarter, when he took a pass from Wilkins at the line of scrimmage near the left sideline and evaded a series of would-be tacklers as he glided around the right side and followed a solid block into the end zone.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Harry said. “That’s something that really comes natural to me. When I’m out there, it’s just like God-given natural ability.”
UTSA avoided the shutout with a late TD.
″ We were deserving of finishing second today because in all three phases we looked like a team trying to find an identity,” Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said. ” ... The good thing is we have no other place to go but up.”
Arizona State couldn’t find much to complain about in this one but things will get tougher next week when No. 11 Michigan State comes to town. Still, Harry is showing he’s the real deal and a major problem for defenders down the road.
UTSA was outmatched from the start and didn’t look like even a contender in its Conference USA, with an unsettled display at quarterback and deficiencies on defense.
Arizona State cornerback Jalen Harvey was ejected with 10:14 left in the first half for a personal foul, leading with his helmet well after Grundy went into a protective slide. The punishment means Harvey will have to miss the first half of next Saturday night’s game against Michigan State.
With 4:26 left, the Roadrunners made a switch at quarterback, replacing Grundy, a junior-college transfer, with D.J. Gillins, a graduate transfer from SMU. Grundy returned to the game with 5:41 left in the third quarter and Gillins came back late in the fourth.
UTSA: hosts Baylor next Saturday night.
Arizona State: is home against No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday night.