Two days later, it’s still hard to fathom what happened to the Sun Devils in the final minutes at the Coliseum.
“We’re back into the mode of trying to regroup. Starting with the players yesterday, you can imagine how they felt, along with the coaching staff,” ASU head coach Herm Edwards said on Monday. “But we have to put that behind us now and move forward. There's a lot of learning moments and teaching moments we can use for an opportunity to get better as a football team.”
A 13-point lead with three minutes to go, a 99.9% win probability according to ESPN, in a must-win game against the other favorite in the Pac-12 South. And then everything that could go wrong, did.
“I’ve been in a football a long time,” Edward said. “I’ve lost some close ones, won some close ones, but never one like this. It’s a hard one to swallow, but we have to swallow it.”
There were some positives on Monday. Linebacker Merlin Robertson was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, while punter Michael Turk was tabbed Special Teams Player of the Week. And Edwards said the Sun Devils are looking pretty good on the injury front, other than being a little sore. He thinks senior wide receiver Frank Darby will be available to play Saturday against Cal, if the game is played.
ASU’s rival knows that feeling. The Arizona Wildcats had their first game canceled just over 24 hours before they were set to kickoff in Utah.
“To have to inform your team after everything that’s gone on for a while, it wasn’t the best thing,” said UA head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Another weekend of watching everybody else play becomes frustrating, but guess what? We’ve got a great opportunity this week at home.”
The Wildcats will host USC while ASU prepares for the Cal Golden Bears, until told otherwise. Edwards said Monday he hasn’t gotten any indication that they won’t have a game to play Saturday.
Cal had to cancel its week one game against Washington due to not having the minimum number of scholarship players, but it’s a far different situation than the one that forced Utah to cancel.
While the Utes were dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, the Golden Bears had only one positive test, but contact tracing put an entire position group in quarantine. Berkeley health protocols apparently state that people must remain in quarantine for 14 days, no matter how many negative test results they return. So Cal’s depth chart problem may not be solved in time to play the Sun Devils. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox was hopeful they could still go ahead.
The Pac-12 is far from the only conference dealing with cancellations and uncertainty. The current situation had Edwards crossing his fingers hoping for the best on Monday.
“I’m nervous. I think every coach is nervous right now when you look at the report of how this thing is going. It's going in a bad direction,” Edwards said. “What that does to us, we don't know. All we're going to do is, every week, prepare to play. We have already seen that there have been some cancellations in our conferences as well as others. We’re just hoping that it doesn't hit us, affect us, and if it does, we'll have to deal with it.”