Herm Edwards after Arizona State loss to BYU: Poor discipline 'starts with me'
PROVO, Utah — For the last two years the Arizona State Sun Devils have made a living off takeaways. Even when the offense wasn't firing on all cylinders, they could count on the defense to get the ball back and give it a short field, also thwarting the opponent's momentum.
But that has been one thing missing the last two weeks and it proved costly this time as the Sun Devils lost to No. 23 Brigham Young 27-17 Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium in front of 61,570 and a national television audience.
Not only did ASU (2-1) have the four turnovers, there were also 16 penalties for 121 yards which makes it difficult to win any game, much less against a caliber foe and one that improved to 3-0 against Pac-12 foes. It was the second time in three games ASU has been whistled for more than 100 yards in penalties.
"It was a very disappointing game. The discipline of our team is not very good and it starts with me. I've got to fix it. It's my responsibility," head coach Herm Edwards said. "When you play a team like this on the road and you turn the ball over and you collect 17 penalties, it's very difficult to win. That's where it all starts and we got to get it fixed and we got to get it fixed fast. It's kind of been an underlying theme with us. We got away with it the first two weeks."
There were two plays that spelled out the kind of night it was for the visitors.
First it was the opening kickoff which was fielded by ASU's Geordon Porter, who was in for the injured D.J Taylor, and fumbled with the Cougars' Hayden Livingston recovering. BYU (3-0) scored three plays later on a 4-yard run by Tyler Allgeier.
Then came a takeaway and a giveaway on the same play. With ASU trailing 21-17 late in the third quarter ASU linebacker Merlin Robertson intercepted a Jaren Hall offering and ran it back 60 yards but he was stripped of the ball by BYU running back Tyler Allgeier, with Hall actually making the recovery at BYU's 15.
BYU didn't score on the possession but it proved to be quite the momentum killer. Still photos and replays showed Robertson nearly stepped out out of bounds before the fumble yet no one on the ASU sideline called for a review.
"That helps you," Edwards said of the takeaways. "And we thought the game was going to get swung on that interception obviously and the guy (Allgeier) did a great job of stripping it out. That's kind of how the game went. We got a lot to work on. It's all about us right now. It's about us fixing out errors. If we fix our errors, we'll have a chance to win some football games."
Of the four ASU turnovers, two were interceptions thrown by junior quarterback Jayden Daniels who had thrown just four interceptions in his career coming in and had not had more than one in a game.
On the night Daniels completed 21-for-29 for 265 yards, that total being the most he has thrown for since the Nov. 23, 2019 game against Oregon in which he threw for 408.
"A couple drives we got down there, we shot ourselves in the foot," Daniels said. "It starts with me. I got to play better. No matter what. It's two turnovers. We had four turnovers. It starts with me, in practice. With urgency and getting guys out in. We just have to move on from this and learn from it."
In the last traditional season in 2019, ASU led the nation in takeaway margin. And in the last 13 games the Sun Devils had forced 38 turnovers, good for most in the nation over a 13-game span. Going into the game and despite not having a takeaway against the Rebels last week ASU still had five more takeaways than any other school in the country over the same stretch.
They were a minus-2 in that department Saturday night.
It didn't help that the Sun Devils went into the contest with some key skill position players. Not only did Taylor sit on the sideline with his foot in a walking boot, so did running back DeaMonte Trayanum who was out for the second straight week with a sprained ankle, also in a boot.
Veteran cornerback Timarcus Davis (leg) practiced this week but sat out for third straight game. The other injured party was wide receiver Bryan Thompson who pulled a hamstring in last week's victory over UNLV. He didn't practice this week either.
"Injuries always play a part, but here again. It's football. Everyone has injuries," Edwards said. "We got to get past the injuries. We can't use that."
ASU faces Colorado at home next Saturday to open conference play but the injury list could grow. Defensive end Travez Moore left in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and needed crutches to leave the field after the game. Defensive tackle Shannon Forman, already replacing the injured Jermayne Lole, also limped off late in the contest.
ASU racked up 426 yards offense while BYU tallied 361. ASU's got 82 yards on eight tries from Daniyel Nagata with Rachaad White running for 71 on 15 tries and catching nine passes for 65 yards.
BYU was led by Hall who threw for 214 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, the one by Robertson in addition to one by Jack Jones. The top BYU receiver was Chandler High School graduate Gunner Romney who caught six passes for 95 yards with a long of 34 yards.