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Penalties haunt No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils heading into game vs. UNLV

Sep 2, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards looks on during the second half against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards looks on during the second half against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said he is mostly concerned about his team’s penalties and UNLV’s running game ahead of the matchup between the 23rd-ranked Sun Devils and the Rebels at Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday night.

The Sun Devils (1-0) defeated Southern Utah 41-14 in the season opener last week despite committing 13 penalties for 135 yards, the most they have had since Edwards began his tenure at Arizona State before the 2018 season.

Edwards’ team committed 11 penalties in the first half.

He told the media Monday that he counted three times Arizona State had first-and-15 or longer, three other times it was second-and-14 and three times it was third-and-16 or longer.

“Those are bad downs. You can’t be in those kinds of downs,” Edwards said. “To keep the ball going, to keep the drive going, those are hard to get out of. And so we have to get away from that.”

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UNLV (0-1) will travel to Tempe coming off a 35-33, double-overtime loss at home to Eastern Washington last week. UNLV’s Charles Williams gained 172 yards on 27 carries, an average of 6.4 yards per rush, and scored two touchdowns.

UNLV’s strength is its running game inasmuch as its quarterbacks, Doug Brumfield and Justin Rogers, threw for only 140 yards on 12-of-23 passing with no touchdowns and one interception.

“Defensively, we have a task ahead of us with this run game they have because they do a nice job of running the ball,” Edwards said of UNLV. “So we have to get that stopped. … You still have to have your gap integrity. You have to trust that if I’m supposed to be in the A, B or C gap, I have to trust that I have to stay in this gap.”

Arizona State has a credible running game balanced by the playmaking ability of quarterback Jayden Daniels, who completed 10-of-12 passes for 132 yards before leaving in the third quarter because of leg cramps.

Five ASU players rushed for at least 25 yards, led by Rachaad White’s 58 yards on seven carries, and the Sun Devils finished with 222 yards rushing on 40 carries, with six touchdowns.

Arizona State is 9-1 when running for more than 200 yards under Edwards.

UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo announced Monday that Brumfield will start against Arizona State.

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Brumfield entered the game against Eastern Washington midway through the third quarter after the offense struggled to produce with Rogers behind center. The Rebels trailed by 14 points at that point.

“I feel like I prepare as the starter if I’m not starting,” Brumfield said. “We all prepare the same because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Brumfield led UNLV to a comeback to force overtime. He completed 5-of-12 pass attempts for 117 yards, threw an interception and rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown.

“He provided a great spark. Really built off of some of the things he did in camp,” Arroyo said. “I’m excited to see him get in with a true week going in as the guy for the first time. Excited to see him grow.”

–Field Level Media