NCAAF: Arizona St., interim coach finish difficult stretch vs. No. 21 Washington


Taking over as the interim coach midway through a season is never easy.

But facing ranked opponents in your first three games? That’s downright devilish.

That’s what Arizona State’s Shaun Aguano has encountered since taking over for the fired Herm Edwards on Sept. 19.

Up next for the Sun Devils (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) is a meeting with No. 21 Washington (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday afternoon in Tempe, Ariz.

The Sun Devils lost at home to then-No. 13 Utah 34-13 in Aguano’s first game, then suffered a 42-25 defeat to No. 6 Southern California last Saturday in Los Angeles.

“I still believe in this team. Our coaches believe in this team. And most important of all, our players still believe in this team,” Aguano said. “As the leader of this program, I know that I must embrace them, coach them, mentor them, but also — and most importantly — love them.”

One thing Aguano has tried to instill in his players is accountability. When a starter was a couple of minutes late for a practice last week, he was sent home.

The new coach has players running 50-yard wind sprints after stretching and run from one drill to the next at practice.

“The running from drill to drill, it’s the up-tempo that I want to bring to the offense and the defense, and the type of up-tempo scheme that I want to have emphasized,” Aguano said. “But you know, it’s doing everything right. The fundamentals, the accountability, the discipline that will make us competitive in these games and overall win these games.”

The Sun Devils trailed USC just 21-17 at the half before the Trojans pulled away.

ASU’s Emory Jones passed for 243 yards and Xazavian Valladay scored two touchdowns.

“Offensive side, they did their job. They kept us in the game,” Sun Devils safety Khoury Bethley said. “Defense, we didn’t step up to the plate, though. … Offense played like that, you think you should win the game. So defense, we’re taking full responsibility for this one.”

The Huskies are coming off their first loss of the season, 40-32 at UCLA.

Their defense was unable to stop Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a score.

The Bruins scored on four straight possessions to take a 26-10 halftime lead and struck again on their first drive of the second half to make it 33-10 before the Huskies pushed back.

“We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half,” Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer said. “Our guys now realize is that we’re a team that people are gonna get up to play. Not that we went into the game thinking otherwise, but we got to emotionally and physically be ready to play.”

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. finished 33 of 48 for 345 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Just wasn’t executing. We got to do better,” Penix said. “Me myself personally, I got to take care of the ball better. And that’s really all it was, just poor execution.”

–Field Level Media

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