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Sometimes, you sit around and wonder how bad can it get?
Arizona State’s 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night was that type of game.
Was it as bad as USC in 2019? The game where Kedon Slovis put 28 points on the Sun Devils in the first quarter? Was it as bad as Washington State last year? The game where the Sun Devils went into halftime trailing 28-0? Was it as bad as those Todd Graham teams that seemed to give up 50 points every weekend?
All fair questions, considering just how ugly things got in the first half, and if Herm Edwards keeps this up, he’s going to be coaching for his job in the Territorial Cup — if he’s lucky. This game left no room for confidence that ASU could quickly fix all the issues that plagued the team.
“We’ve got to fix it,” coach Herm Edwards said after the game. “We’ve got to fix it with the players we have. That’s how we’ve got to fix it. There isn’t anyone else coming in the building. We’ve got to find a way to fix it. That’s what I told the team. Going forward, you’ve got to figure out who you are now, what you’re going to become.”
The final score in no way indicated how lopsided the game was.
ASU got one stop on third down in the first half. One. It was third-and-5, early in the game, deep in Sun Devils’ territory, and Eastern Michigan ran a poorly executed screen that fell incomplete. That drive ended in a field goal.
Other than that, it was embarrassing.
Third-and-1? ASU gave up 6.
Third-and-1? ASU gave up 15.
Third-and-2? The backup quarterback ripped off a 19-yard run.
Third-and-10? ASU gave up 10 yards and an inch.
Third-and-2? ASU gave up 3.
Third-and-6? ASU gave up 7.
Third-and-3? ASU gave up 16.
Third-and-2? ASU gave up 5.
ASU, meanwhile, converted on just two of their five third-down plays.
Eastern Michigan is not a traditional power in the Mid-American Conference. Eagles coach Chris Creighton is just 38-58 in his ninth season.
Eastern Michigan might not be all that good this year. The Eagles came into the game just 1-1 with a bad loss to Louisiana and a win over Eastern Kentucky, which plays in a lower division.
It seemed like there was a head-scratching moment on every play. The opening kickoff sailed out of bounds. A wide receiver stepped out of bounds on a 29-yard gain that should have gone for 50. And ASU called a time out to punt instead of letting the clock run at the end of the first half! The Sun Devils called a time out to punt!
The fans would have booed, if there had been enough. Sun Devil Stadium was as empty as defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson’s playbook. It was maybe … maybe … a quarter full midway through the third quarter.
A segment of the ASU fanbase has been calling for Herm’s job since he arrived in Tempe in 2018. This is the kind of game that lets them say “told ya so.”
Utah and USC are coming up next. Does anyone anywhere think ASU has a realistic shot?
More likely, the Sun Devils are going to come out of this stretch with a 1-4 record, needing to 5-2 over their final seven to reach a bowl game.
Many more performances like this will force Athletic Director Ray Anderson to make a move to try to salvage recruiting, meaning he’d probably have to turn the program over to special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Shawn Slocum on an interim basis.
I don’t say this lightly. I like and respect Herm Edwards. His news conferences are like 15-minute motivational speeches. He picked up the phone to talk to me early in my career when I was a nobody. And he’s a quote machine and a magnet for controversy, making him a sportswriter’s dream.
But he’s coaching for the fans, who only care about all that stuff when the team is winning.
Anderson has repeatedly supported Edwards and said he’s confident in the direction of the program, but imagine Chip Kelly and UCLA show up to a half empty Sun Devil Stadium on Nov. 5 and (b)ruin ASU’s bowl hopes with three games left?
The ASU defense was expected to be a strength.
The offense was supposed to keep things competitive.
The whole team was supposed to be more disciplined.
None of those things were true — and even with all that ASU had a chance to win. A 44-yard touchdown run by X Valladay pulled the Sun Devils to within a score. It was 27-21 EMU with about 11 minutes left.
The ASU defense then had Eastern in third-and-2, but if you read this far you know how it turned out: Eastern broke off a 32-yard run on the way to a field goal that put the game out of reach.
This can’t happen again or Herm Edwards will be lucky to make it to the end of the season.
The guess here is that he knows it.
“We’re all disappointed,” Edwards said. “I’m probably more disappointed than anybody.”
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Herm Edwards on hot seat after embarrassing loss to Eastern Michigan