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Pac-12 Network Host Mike Yam Spoke with AllSunDevils About the Upcoming Season

Donnie Druins spoke with Pac-12 Host Mike Yam about Sun Devil Football

Needless to say, Arizona State football has received a lot of hype heading into the 2020 season. With Herm Edwards at the helm and a rising star in Jayden Daniels at quarterback, the Sun Devils are projected to do very big things in the upcoming season.

That might be a challenge, however. With new offensive coordinator Zak Hill having little wiggle room in terms of getting players up to speed on his tweaks and adjustments to the offensive playbook. That sentiment could be carried in any offseason with a new offense to learn, yet COVID-19 places pressure on both Hill and his offense to mesh sooner rather than later. Hill was hired last December after being in charge of a Boise State offense that averaged 441.5 yards and 36.8 points per contest.

PAC-12 studio host Michael Yam believes Hill was the right move, as Arizona State looks to not play cardiac football in the fourth quarter.

“The goal is to score points, a lot more points, which is what prompted that move for Herm” said Yam. “I think there was some sort of disappointment (with previous offenses), I’m not sure that’s the right word to use. But the reality is that team has played with fire. The last couple seasons under Herm there’s been close games and they’ve been able to squeak them out, but I think as they evolve they’re gonna try to score more points to get themselves more of a cushion late in ball games.”

Herm Edwards, who prepares for his third season at the helm of ASU football, had a few doubters when he originally took the position. Yam, who worked with Edwards during his time at ESPN, knew he’d be successful from day one in the desert.

“As a college football coach, the life-blood of your program are relationships and recruiting. And, to me, there’s nobody better. Herm’s on a short-list of guys that I’ve ever worked with that are just unbelievably great human beings. As soon as they made the hire I said ‘Damn, Herm’s going to crush it down there’… There’s no doubt that Herm can walk into a living room and convince Mom, Dad and player that ASU is the right spot for them.”

We spoke briefly on former ASU and current Hawaii head coach Todd Graham, who saw some success during his time leading the Sun Devils. “I think both are really good football coaches, but they do things vastly different” said Yam.

Yam points to Edwards and how he carries his program in more of a professional way in terms of scheduling and structure, as he spoke to former Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins on the differences between Edwards and former ASU coach Todd Graham. “I remember having that conversation with Manny, and Manny did say it feels like they did have a little more freedom away from the football stuff” said Yam.

Edwards, a coach who has won at the highest level of professional football, knows how to get kids on the right path to the NFL. While Edwards has yet to start yielding a large amount of self-recruited players, he is responsible for sending two consecutive first-round picks to the next level. Yet Edwards isn’t alone in developing that talent, as Yam attributed the staff around Edwards as well.

“Any great leader is going to have to rely on those around them to help, and his staff has been sort-of remarkable. You have Kevin Mawae who’s now a Hall-of-Famer, Antonio Pierce who saw the success Herm had and has a pipeline to Southern California. Danny Gonzalez was another great hire for the program. You slide Pierce and Marvin Lewis into that co-defensive coordinator role, how many other programs can say that? He’s hit some home runs here in a short period of time.”

As for 2020, the PAC-12 is once again headlined by programs such as Oregon and USC. While Arizona State has begun to garner national attention, many places such as ESPN have Utah locking horns with USC for the PAC-12 south title.

Yam isn’t buying that.

“To me, I would look at ASU as a contender against USC instead of Utah right now” said Yam. “Some might disagree with that assessment, but the success from Utah the last couple years has come on the defensive side of the football. They lose some starters from a season ago, and I’m not going to question how good this team can be. They were historically good on the defensive side of the football last year, like they were doing stuff we haven’t seen in the PAC-12 conference and to be honest with you in college football. They were that good. But I think my perception of them might be soured based off how they lost the PAC-12 championship game to Oregon last year. I think it’s hard when you lose players like Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss, that’s your offense right there.”

Yam touched on ASU and sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels as a reason to why the Sun Devils are more of a threat to spoil USC’s potential championship party.

“I just feel good about ASU and what they bring to the table. If you were to ask me to pick one quarterback to start on your team within this conference, it’s Jayden (Daniels) for me. And I get it, Kedon Slovis had great numbers last year and is on the short-list of a ton of publications for what he can do this year. He’s gonna have a great year, but I think Herm’s in a really good spot right now and I think because of the uncertainty around the season and the lack of spring ball and conditioning that is now dramatically going to change. I think continuity is really important at that spot and ASU right now has that.”

Yam pointed out that the Sun Devils do have fresh faces at coaching positions, but those coordinators were able to be around Edwards and the rest of the team for a period of time.

Arizona State faces three tough road games in their pursuit of a PAC-12 title appearance, with match-ups on the road at Oregon, USC and Arizona set for 2020. Yam agreed ASU needed to come away victorious in either Oregon or USC territory, but isn’t quite sure of fans being in the stadium and the potential impact that will have.

“I don’t feel good about either one of those games. Oregon for me is still the class of the conference right now. Maybe we don’t have fans and that neutralizes the home-field advantage. One thing we’ve learned with soccer overseas is without fans, the home-field advantage isn’t really there. The winning percentage for home teams with no fans has dipped ten percent. I would imagine being in Eugene, being one of the better home-field advantages, that is a factor there. But I do think from a talent perspective Oregon, especially because of their defense, I feel good about Oregon winning a home game.”

As for playing on the road in Southern California?

“You mention the importance of playing for a championship, that game at USC could decide the division. So if you said to me ‘hey which one do you want to win’, obviously you want both but if you have to pick the USC game is more important in terms of helping put you in the PAC-12 title game.”