Reeling from 2 straight losses, Sun Devils turn focus to learning to win again – The Arizona Republic

The Arizona State Sun Devils have not handled adversity well at any point this season. They didn’t react well to the tough road environment at Brigham Young and it resulted in their first loss.

They then struggled on the road again at Utah. With first place in the South Division at stake they gave up 28 unanswered points in the second half, lost 35-21, and with it, control of their own destiny in the conference race.

But neither of those showings was as bad as the one the Sun Devils (5-3, 3-2) put forth on Saturday when they turned the ball over five teams and were soundly beaten by Washington State, a team to who they were a two-touchdown favorite.

It’s most disappointing because it’s a veteran-laden team.

So now head coach Herm Edwards finds himself trying to rally the troops for the last four games, the next of which will be a 7:30 p.m. home showdown against another team that has been dealing with adversity in USC (4-4, 3-3), which is coming off a 31-24 win over Arizona.

Edwards said it’s about getting a good feeling again. He’s looking at the smaller picture.

“There is so much you put into this,” Edwards said. “What you get out of this that you can win a game. We haven’t felt that in two weeks. That’s what football is about. It’s about the process and where it starts. Every week you have an opportunity to win a game. The joy you feel, the accomplishment you feel as a football team to win. And we haven’t felt that.

“We’ve been on the other side of it and its doesn’t feel good. There’s nothing comfortable about losing. You got have a pit in your stomach. You have to walk around with that pit every day. I want the joy of winning. I want to walk in that locker room and watch these guys celebrate.”

The Trojans hit the skids even before ASU did with a 42-28 loss to Stanford the second game of the season, resulting in the firing of coach Clay Helton and the elevation of Donte Williams to interim head coach.

Things don’t seem to have gotten any better as the Trojans gave up 40 or more points at home for the second and third times this season against Oregon State and Utah.

They’re going with two quarterbacks, Scottsdale Desert Mountain product Kedon Slovis, now in his third year as a starter, and true freshman Jaxson Dart.

USC also suffered a major blow in the loss against the Wildcats with 6-foot-5 wide receiver Drake London sustaining a broken ankle. London led the Pac-12 and was third among all FBS players with 1,084 receiving yards and seven touchdowns (88 catches).

“My prayers go out to him. He’s out for the rest of the year and that’s a shame. A guy like that obviously has a lot of potential to play in the National Football League. You hate for that to happen,” Edwards said. “I hope he has a speedy recovery.”

A good portion of the ASU roster is made up of players from Southern California and the Sun Devils have made inroads in that state when it comes to recruiting. So Edwards thinks that will go a long way in bringing some energy back to his team.

In light of the back-to-back losses Edwards said he will do some things “structurally” different in practice to make it more competitive but he can’t change his demeanor.

“You cannot change your personality because that becomes a red flag,” he said. “I’ve been a certain way around this place now for going on my fourth season. There are certain things I can say and do, these guys know how to react to that behind closed doors. But I can’t all of a sudden change my personality because it doesn’t work for me and then it sets off a bad signal to the players. We’ve had some seasons here we lost a couple of games and we found our way back. We’ve got to find our way back again. That’s my job to figure out how to do that.”

Schedule changed

Edwards typically gives his players Monday off, then the Sun Devils return to the practice field on Tuesday. But that plan has been altered a bit this week with an NCAA mandate that players be given an Election Day off. While there may not be an election in Arizona, there are some in other states which include Pac-12 schools.

So the Sun Devils practiced Monday night instead. It was closed to the media.

They’ll go back to their normal schedule with a morning practice on Wednesday.

Game times set

Times have been set for games the weekend of Nov. 13 and Arizona State’s game at Washington will kickoff at 4 p.m. Pacific time, 5 p.m. in Arizona. It will air on FS1.

It will be just the second time over the first 10 games ASU has started a game earlier than 7 p.m. The first early start was the noon game on Saturday against Washington State. The seven consecutive night starts to begin the season were a school record.

Reach the reporter at Michelle.Gardner@gannett.com or 602 444-4783.  Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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