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Arizona State Relying on Leadership to Reach Finish Line

Sitting at 5-2 with a chance to win its division, Arizona State is calling upon team leaders to push the team over the finish line.

There comes a point in time where individuals in a locker room dig deep and push their team to the finish line. 

The Arizona State Sun Devils and head coach Herm Edwards hope that time is now. Arizona State currently sits at 5-2 on the season, with just five games left to make good on their talented roster and potentially find a place in the Pac-12 title game. 

Following a loss to Utah and a bye week, the Sun Devils aim to get back to their winning ways this Saturday (Oct. 30) against Washington State. Edwards earlier this week spoke about how the week off could help players and coaches regain their rhythm in such an important part of the year. 

“It can help you. No doubt, it helps you when you can pause and let guys reflect on where they're at . . . The energy that we need in practice, the focus we need, it's all about the preparation," said Edwards. 

"The game takes care of itself. It is the week of preparation and being dialed in on what we need to do. That's the most important thing and I think this team understands that we've had two little setbacks. The first one was the BYU game and we found a way to get ourselves back. This was a setback obviously a week ago and now we have to find our way to get ourselves back. That's the most important thing.”

Discipline has been a heavy topic of discussion surrounding the Sun Devils, as the team has played three games this season where they accrued 13 or more penalties. Two of those instances came in losses to BYU and Utah. 

With two losses, Arizona State's path to the Pac-12 title game is fairly simple: Utah needs to lose at least one more game due to having the head-to-head tiebreaker and the Sun Devils need to win the rest of their games. 

When it comes to leaders on the team, whether it be quarterback Jayden Daniels or the other captains, Edwards believes it's important for energy to derive from the top of the locker room. 

"It's important that the leaders on your team have to provide energy. When you feel like it's going in the wrong direction for you, and we have enough guys that have experienced that know that, that is part of being a leader," said Edwards. 

"Leading is easy when everybody wants to lead. It's when it's hard, and that is when you have to say some things sometimes to get guys' attention, and I think our guys understand that we have some good leaders on this team. The next five weeks they need to be leaders. There's no doubt about that because it's an important part of our season right now as we head down the stretch, and every game is important. 

"We want to get our momentum back, and we kind of lost it. Now we got to find it again; we'll get it back.”

Understanding what's at stake for Arizona State within the next five weeks, Edwards says he wrote letters to the leaders of his team during the bye week in hopes of reaching a new level of understanding and inspiration. 

“I talked to them (the team in general) about a lot of things and I talked to the leaders. I wrote them a nice letter. I told them what I expected out of them. Sometimes I think when you talk to them in person, that's one thing. But when they can read it and look at it, it kind of sinks in," said Edwards. 

"I know I've always been that way when I get a letter from somebody. I really have to focus in on what this thing is saying and I can read it over and over again. So, I sent up a nice letter about what I expected from them and what they need to do. That is part of my job as a head coach to always inform the players where we're at. As you know, you guys have followed me long enough, but we are never in panic mode. We just let things settle and go about our business.”

Time will tell if those letters truly sink in for the Sun Devils.