It’s been three weeks since Arizona State has played a football game, and it seems like ages have gone by since the Sun Devils collapse at the coliseum on Nov. 7.
Nevertheless, with just two games remaining on the schedule after three canceled games, it appears that ASU will finally be taking the field under the lights at Sun Devil Stadium this Saturday night when Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins stroll into town.
The preseason hype and expectation surrounding the program is all but lost as many Sun Devil faithful turn their attention toward the basketball season, but with very little to play for at this point in the pandemic shortened year, Herm Edwards still put all of it into perspective as his group crawls out of its COVID-19 quarantine and back on the field for a game this weekend.
“We’re excited about playing a game. We haven’t played a game in a month,” Edwards said. “It’s kind of like our first game…Low and behold it’s the 8:30 game so it’s like we are waiting forever to play this game, but I think our players are very excited about playing football again.”
The depth, conditioning, and stamina of the Sun Devils will certainly be tested as they try to compete after being knocked out for weeks due to their Coronavirus outbreak among the team.
The Bruins come into town at .500 (2-2) after beating down Arizona last weekend at the Rose Bowl. Although the record and performances haven’t been consistent in Kelly’s tenure, UCLA still possesses some talented players at the skill positions, including starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who missed the last two games due to injury but is expected to be back for Saturday’s showdown.
Similar to ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels, Thompson-Robinson is mobile and can move out of the pocket. He currently has 174 yards on the ground in his two games played, while in the backfield, senior Demetric Felton and Brittain Brown have been a tandem.
Both backs had touchdowns last week against Arizona, and Felton rushed for 134 yards in the first half alone against the Wildcats.
“They’re very dynamic in their running game,” Edwards said of going up against UCLA. “They have two wonderful backs and do a good job with their tight ends, and they have a big offensive line…The quarterback, he’s very dynamic, can throw from different platforms, and he’s fast once he gets out of the pocket. He can make a lot of plays and extend plays with his legs.”
Ultimately, this game doesn’t mean much for ASU in the grand scheme of bowl games, playoffs or any hopes of a Pac-12 title, but it is still an opportunity. Edwards doesn’t want that to be overlooked considering how much has gone wrong over the last eight months in this global pandemic.
“We’ve had to wait all of this time to play again,” Edwards said. “You put so much work into it. You practice all these hours, and I don’t think this is something that anyone will ever forget in the world. Not only in Arizona, but in the whole world. I think everyone has been affected by this virus one way or another and it’s made us all have to adjust.”