After Further Review Week 3: Arizona State's Herm Edwards experiment came to a fitting ending

·9 min read

There are so many games over the course of a college football weekend that some slip through the cracks and others require further examination the next day. Before we turn the page to Week 4, here’s a closer look at some of the most interesting outcomes of Week 3.

Eastern Michigan 30, Arizona State 21

Arizona State’s Herm Edwards experiment came to an unceremonious ending on Sunday when the school fired him after an embarrassing 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

It was a loss that was emblematic of what the Sun Devils had become under Edwards’ watch — soft, undisciplined and, frankly, a roster without much talent. ASU was pushed around by EMU, who rushed for a whopping 305 yards to give the MAC its first win over a Pac-12 opponent.

ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, who happens to have been Edwards’ agent back during his NFL coaching days, termed Sunday’s decision as a “mutual agreement” between the university and Edwards. It really was an admittance of failure for a vision that seemed far-fetched from the start.

When Anderson hired Edwards in December 2017, he hadn’t coached in nearly a decade. He spent nine years working as an NFL analyst for ESPN after eight seasons as an NFL head coach. He hadn’t coached at the college level since the late 1980s, yet Anderson brought Edwards to Tempe as part of a “new leadership model” that was supposed to be “similar to an NFL approach using a general manager structure.”

Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards watches his team against Eastern Michigan during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards watches his team, nearly a three-TD favorite, fall to Eastern Michigan on Saturday. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

That so-called “model” was presented publicly as some sort of bold and innovative plan. Less than five years later, it culminated with a home loss to a mid-tier MAC program playing with its backup quarterback. That loss gave the 68-year-old Edwards a 26-20 record as ASU’s head coach, a mark that doesn’t really reflect the tumultuous reality of his tenure that was wholly mediocre.

Through his first three seasons, Edwards produced the same middling results that ASU had under previous head coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils went 7-6 in 2018, 8-5 in 2019 and 2-2 in the shortened pandemic season of 2020. Along the way, Edwards and his staff were assembling a decent collection of talent — until news of an NCAA investigation emerged.

In summer of 2021, multiple outlets, including Yahoo Sports, reported that the ASU program was being investigated for hosting recruits during the non-contact period mandated by the NCAA during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigation led to the departure of a significant chunk of Edwards’ staff and put a cloud over the Sun Devils’ 2021 season. ASU was looked at as a potential Pac-12 title contender, but again went 8-5 and was one of the most-penalized teams in the country.

With the NCAA investigation lingering, ASU’s recruiting cratered and there was a mass exodus of the team’s top players after the season. Nonetheless, Anderson brought his buddy Herm back for another season.

It took only three games of the 2022 season for Anderson and the rest of ASU’s leadership to realize that was a mistake.

“The core of this is doing what is best for our current team, staff and university,” Anderson said in a statement Sunday. “I understand the frustrations out there. We must do better and that starts with our decision today.”

Where does ASU go from here? Though NCAA penalties loom, there's a lot that's attractive about this job — particularly its location and proximity to talent. Names like Bill O'Brien, Tom Herman, Kalani Sitake, Deion Sanders and Todd Monken have already been speculated about for the job.

But a bigger question for the university is whether or not Anderson should be in a position to have any say in the coaching search after his Edwards hire went up in flames.

That will need to be answered before ASU begins its task of attempting to rebuild the football program.

Kansas 48, Houston 30

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels is one of the most exciting players in college football.

The junior threw for 158 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 123 yards and two TDs in the Jayhawks’ big win over the Cougars on Saturday. Just watch what Daniels did to Houston’s defense. It’s impossible not to be entertained unless you’re a graduate of the University of Houston.

By now, you know that Kansas is one of the best stories in college football at 3-0 and already over its BetMGM win total of 2.5 wins. And Daniels has been a massive part of this Kansas football revival. He has some of the best stats in college football through the first three weeks of the season.

Daniels is 47-of-70 passing for 566 yards and has thrown seven TDs to just one interception. He has also rushed 27 times for 337 yards and three touchdowns. And it’s not like Kansas has played a cupcake schedule, either. After opening with an FCS opponent in Week 1, Kansas played Big 12 foe West Virginia in Week 2 and won by 13 in overtime on the road.

Kansas has not gotten competency at quarterback since Todd Reesing was leading the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl in 2007. While KU’s struggles over the past 15 years are systemic and well-documented, they’ve been exacerbated by the inability to produce a quarterback who can play at even an average level. Daniels is far better than average and a big reason why Kansas is halfway to bowl eligibility for the first time since that Orange Bowl berth. With home games against Duke, Iowa State and TCU over the next three weeks, it’s not probable but also not impossible — seriously — that Kansas could be 6-0 ahead of a trip to Oklahoma on Oct. 15.

LSU 31, Mississippi State 16

LSU held Mississippi State QB Will Rogers to his worst passing performance since 2020 in a big win for Brian Kelly’s start with the Tigers.

Rogers was 24-of-42 passing for 214 yards with a TD and an interception on Saturday night. It was the fewest yards he’d thrown for in a single game as MSU’s starting QB since the 2020 Armed Forces Bowl and his 57.1% completion rate was his worst in three seasons and 25 games with the Bulldogs.

The Tigers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 16-10 deficit into a 15-point win thanks to a Mississippi State error on a punt return and a huge performance by LSU's defense.

LSU took a 17-16 lead at the start of the fourth quarter after Austin Williams fumbled a punt inside his own 10. LSU then forced Mississippi State into a three-and-out on its next drive and went 14 plays and 85 yards for an eight-point lead.

The 14 plays LSU had on that TD drive is one play fewer than Mississippi State’s offense had since it kicked a field goal for a six-point lead in the third quarter. Thanks to that fumbled punt and LSU’s exceptional effort, MSU ran just 15 offensive plays over the final 21 minutes of the game.

The Bulldogs’ longest drive in that span was a five-play desperation effort late in the fourth quarter that ended when Jay Ward intercepted Rogers.

If LSU is going to make a play for the top half of the SEC West it’s going to need more performances like that from its defense. The Tigers’ pass offense is still very uneven despite the presence of Malik Nabers and Kayshon Boutte outside. Maybe that’s because Jayden Daniels is still adjusting to the offensive scheme in his first season in Baton Rouge. But Daniels showed a proclivity for escaping the pocket early in his time at LSU, too. But he can’t function as LSU’s primary rushing threat for the entirety of the season.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly is seen after an NCAA college football game against Southern in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
LSU is now 2-1 under head coach Brian Kelly after a win over Mississippi State on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Extra Points

  • Tulane 17, Kansas State 10: Kansas State was a trendy offseason pick to win the Big 12 title and the Wildcats' 40-12 win over Missouri in Week 2 did nothing to quiet those who thought K-State could make noise in the conference race. However, K-State's complete lack of a passing offense had flown under the radar. Adrian Martinez, the team's QB transfer from Nebraska, went a combined 20-of-35 for just 154 yards in K-State's first two games. So when Tulane stymied Deuce Vaughn and the Wildcats' ground attack, Martinez and the rest of the offense could not pick up the slack. The end result was a big upset for the Green Wave, who were two-TD underdogs.

  • Texas 41, UTSA 20: On the heels of a valiant effort in a one-point loss to Alabama, this seemed like a perfect spot for a letdown from Texas. But Bijan Robinson wouldn't let that happen. Even after the Roadrunners jumped out to a 17-7 lead, Robinson and the Longhorns fought back and won by 21. In the win, Robinson rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard score early in the third quarter that put Texas ahead for good.

  • Iowa 27, Nevada 0: The Hawkeyes’ offense scored more TDs against the Wolf Pack than it had in the first two games of the season. Iowa’s offense got into the end zone three times in a game that was delayed for hours by lightning and finished in the middle of the night while most of you were sleeping. Nevada is in a serious rebuilding phase and lost a lot of talent from 2021, so it’s impossible to say that Iowa’s offense is fixed. Spencer Petras still averaged only 6.7 yards an attempt and the Hawkeyes had fewer than 5 yards a carry. But it’s at least a step forward for Iowa after two abysmal weeks.

  • Rice 33, Louisiana 21: It flew under the radar, but the nation's longest winning streak came to an end on Saturday when Louisiana lost to Rice. Entering that matchup, Louisiana had won 15 consecutive games, the longest winning streak at the FBS level. UL is in its first season under Michael Desormeaux after Billy Napier departed for Florida. The Ragin' Cajuns opened the year with two home wins but struggled mightily in their first road game. UL could muster only 175 yards of offense in the loss.