Is anyone bothering to give Herm Edwards a pat on the back after what he did to Michigan State Saturday night? SpartansWire has tossed quite a few tomatoes his and Arizona State’s way since Herm was hired – but he showed us that he’s having fun and getting it done so far in Tempe.
Michigan State’s 16-13 loss to Arizona State Saturday night in Tempe was a disappointment for this Spartan football team, to be sure.
However, how about we give some credit where credit is due?
SpartansWire has gobbled up a lot of space with brilliantly clever jabs at the expense of Herm Edwards and Arizona State for choosing to name Herm as the head coach of the Sun Devils.
On Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium, in front of a raucous crowd, and with a team that played determined football for four quarters, Edwards notched what might be the biggest victory of his entire coaching career.
And while so many Spartans want to point to all of the reasons why Michigan State let a game slip away (and there is certainly some credibility to some of those points), Herm Edwards coached a hell of a game last night and his guys made the plays for what looked like a pretty damn good football team.
There were more than a handful of times when 5th year senior quarterback Manny Wilkins overthrew his horses on deep balls that might have led to an even uglier night for Michigan State.
But Wilkins hung tough, kept at it, and he eventually found his opportunity when he noticed he had All-Universe wide receiver N’Keal Harry in one-on-one coverage with Justin Layne over there.
Wilkins dropped a perfect pass into the perfect spot for Harry and when Harry corralled the pass and found his way into the endzone, the entire tenor of the game changed and Arizona State felt like it was going to get the victory.
While it’s only the second game of his regime, Herm Edwards appears to have instilled something in his team that Michigan State fans have almost started to take for granted – a mental toughness that shows that the team thinks it can win the ball game even as it struggles to find a rhythm for most of the night.
Edwards looked like a guy who was in complete control on his sideline all night.
His clock management was perfect.
And while some coaches stubbornly stick with a gameplan even when it’s obvious to everyone that it isn’t going anywhere, Herm realized he wasn’t going to win the game by pounding out yards on the ground against Michigan State’s Green & White wall.
Edwards all but abandoned the running game and he eventually led his coaches and players down the right path towards leveraging Harry and Kyle Williams.
Harry ended the night with 6 catches for 89 yards and that game-changing touchdown.
Williams finished the night with 7 catches for 104 yards.
Freshman running back Eno Benjamin did damage with Wilkins – Manny connected with Eno on 6 passes for 54 yards.
Wilkins finished the night 30 for 48 with 380 yards and a score with an interception by Matt Morrissey at the end of the half that, at the time, was a huge play.
How about the way Arizona State played with impressive discipline?
While Michigan State repeated its opening game performance related to penalties (the Spartans finished the night with 9 penalties for 82 yards), Herm’s guys were flagged a mere 4 times for 40 yards.
Arizona State’s final, clock-gobbling, game-winning drive was perfectly executed and Herm managed his timeouts and the clock as well as any Sun Devil fan would have wanted him to.
And even with the final cat-and-mouse moments at the tail end of the game, Herm ordered Manny Wilkins not to let the Michigan State defense let him score – Herm just had his QB take a knee and wind that clock down in order to keep the ball out of Michigan State’s hands.
It looked and felt like a strange hire when Arizona State made it and we sure did say an awful lot about that.
And the season is a mere two weeks old so Sun Devils would be wise to keep the champagne and confetti and so forth stocked away for right now.
But Herm Edwards is 2-0 in the desert.
And his program sure does appear to be on the right track.