TEMPE — The start of the Herm Edwards era injected excitement into Arizona State football, but on Saturday it also inspired a huge sigh of relief for the Sun Devil faithful.
ASU routed the University of Texas at San Antonio Saturday night 49-7. Many fans reacted by praising Edwards and the team for delivering a win against a Roadrunners team they were expected to soundly beat. Those type of victories weren’t alwats sure thing under former coach Todd Graham, who was often plagued by his team’s inconsistent play.
The Sun Devils executed a well-rounded effort in their season opener. Quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for 237 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to N’Keal Harry, who turned ordinary short-yardage plays into impressive highlights.
“(Harry is) a talented player,” Edwards said. “He’s different and you can tell. He’s a guy that’s going to have an opportunity to extend his career beyond college. I think he wants to play at the next level, and he will.”
Yet Edwards says he told his team that the play of the game for the Sun Devils was the pick-six interception by defensive lineman Shannon Forman that extended ASU’s lead to 14-0.
“That was a pretty good run, too,” Edwards said. “(Forman) doesn’t get enough credit so I had to show him some love.”
ASU’s running back duo added to the montage, bulldozing through the Roadrunners defense. Eno Benjamin ran for 131 yards and a touchdown, which Isaiah Floyd complimented with 79 yards and a touchdown.
“My rule is throw to score and run to win, and we were able to do both,” Edwards said.
Edwards debut as ASU’s coach was represented the first words to an answer many hope to have by the end of the season. Now, though, he and his team prepare to host 11th-ranked Michigan State, who will travel to Sun Devil Stadium after narrowly escaping Saturday with win against Utah State.
Edwards had no shortage of praise for the Mark Dantonio-led Spartans.
“Coach (Dantonio) has done a fantastic job there for 12 years,” Edwards said. “He’s one of the better college football coaches in the country, and their team takes on the personality of their coach.”
Still, Edwards isn’t blind to his team’s defense, which came into the season with many question marks and uncertainty regarding consistency. The group will have its hands full against the Spartans offense and starting quarterback Brian Lewerke, who played at Pinnacle High School.
Saturday night’s victory was the start to what fans hope will be a turning point for the future of ASU’s football program, but only one game into his coaching career in Tempe, Edwards already has cautioned his players against getting big-headed.
“Success can be a disease if you allow it. It can overtake you before you know it,” Edwards said. “Thinking you’ve arrived, you really haven’t. You’ve never arrived. There’s always something else you want.”
For now, at least, the Sun Devils want a win against Michigan State. They want the thrill of victory to last at least one more week.