Feb 9, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Former wide receiver Hines Ward speaks during the Legends NFL Party. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Steelers great Hines Ward to coach Arizona State WRs

Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward is joining Arizona State’s staff as wide receivers coach, ESPN reported Saturday.

Ward, 48, caught 1,000 passes, made four Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers from 1998-2011.

He began his coaching career as an offensive intern with the Steelers in 2017 before serving as an offensive assistant with the New York Jets (2019-20), wide receivers coach at Florida Atlantic (2021) and head coach of the then-XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas in 2023.

The Sun Devils finished 3-9 in their first season with head coach Kenny Dillingham in 2023. The program moves from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 this season.

Ward played in 217 games with Pittsburgh and is the franchise’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yards (12,083) and touchdown receptions (85). He was the MVP of Super Bowl XL and earned a second ring in Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers selected Ward in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Georgia.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) is pressured by Nevada Wolf Pack defensive end Dion Washington (92) in the second half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Southern California takes high-octane offense to Arizona State

No. 5 Southern California is well-rested and looking to stay unbeaten Saturday when it visits Arizona State for a Pac-12 contest in Tempe, Ariz.

The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) are coming off a bye week. USC opened conference play on Sept. 9 with a 56-10 rout of Stanford, the Trojans’ third straight game with at least 56 points.

USC beat San Jose State on Aug. 26, 56-28, and Nevada on Sept. 2, 66-14. All three contests were at home.

“Good teams are going to win most of their games at home, but the big difference between good and elite is the elite find ways to win on the road,” Trojans coach Lincoln Riley said Monday.

USC went 7-0 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum a season ago — including a 42-25 defeat of Arizona State — but finished 4-3 away from it. Saturday’s trip to Tempe marks the Trojans’ first game away from L.A. since dropping back-to-back neutral-site games to Utah and Tulane in last year’s Pac-12 Championship and Cotton Bowl.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams is 55-of-70 passing for 878 yards with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first three games. Williams is one of five Trojans with a rushing touchdown on the season, paced by Austin Jones with three.

Jones is also one of three USC running backs with at least 106 yards, joining team leader MarShawn Lloyd at 195 yards and Quinten Joyner with 113.

While USC boasts the nation’s highest-scoring offense to date at 59.3 points per game, Arizona State (1-2, 0-0) comes in with the lowest offensive output of any Power 5 team and the third-lowest in the FBS with 13.0 points per game. Only Arkansas State (11.3) and FBS newcomer Sam Houston (1.5) have struggled more to score.

The offensive woes have been in part due to a revolving door at quarterback. Freshman Jaden Rashada, who threw for two touchdowns in a 24-21, Week 1 win over Southern Utah, is out 4-6 weeks with an unspecified injury.

Trenton Bourguet started last week’s 29-0 loss to Fresno State but exited early due to a foot injury, while backup Drew Pyne sustained a leg injury after throwing a pair of interceptions. Bourguet and Pyne were listed as questionable as of Monday, leaving Jacob Conover as the likely starter on Saturday.

Conover also threw a pair of picks against Fresno State.

Arizona State begins its league slate with USC’s visit. The Sun Devils are at home for a fourth consecutive week, but the confines of Sun Devil Stadium have been less than friendly the past two outings.

Arizona State dropped a 27-15 decision to Oklahoma State — the Sun Devils’ future Big 12 counterpart — on Sept. 9, before last week’s shutout loss.

After the slow start, first-year Sun Devils coach Kenny Dillingham was asked Monday about being heavy underdogs against USC.

“It shouldn’t affect our players. Who cares?” he said. “Go play the game. Go to work this week, and play the football game to win the football game. It’s very simple. I think that’s always going to be our focus.”

–Field Level Media

Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) during football practice at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Aug. 8, 2023.

Reports: Arizona St. to start true freshman QB Jaden Rashada

True freshman Jaden Rashada will start at quarterback for Arizona State when the Sun Devils open their season Aug. 31 against Southern Utah, several reports said Tuesday.

Rashada beat out Notre Dame transfer QB Drew Pyne, who suffered a hamstring injury earlier this month, and Trenton Bourguet for the starting gig.

The 247Sports composite rankings rated Rashada the No. 81 overall prospect and the No. 7 quarterback in the Class of 2023, a group that included five-stars Arch Manning (Texas) and Nico Iamaleava (Tennessee).

The California native originally committed to Miami and switched his pledge to Florida, but he requested and was granted a release from his national letter of intent — reportedly after a Florida collective failed to come up with a $13 million name, image and likeness deal that Rashada was promised.

Rashada follows in the footsteps of Jayden Daniels, who also started at quarterback for Arizona State as a freshman in 2019. Daniels has since transferred to LSU and is considered a Heisman Trophy contender in 2023.

Arizona State is entering its first season under coach Kenny Dillingham. He is the full-time replacement for Herman Edwards, who was fired three games into the 2022 season.

Pyne transferred to Arizona State after three years at Notre Dame. He was the primary starter in South Bend, Ind., last season, throwing for 2,021 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne (10) throws the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State lands Notre Dame transfer QB Drew Pyne

Former Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne announced Monday that he is transferring to Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are starting fresh with coach Kenny Dillingham, formerly Oregon’s offensive coordinator, after the program fired Herm Edwards in September following a 1-2 start.

Pyne replaced Tyler Buchner as Notre Dame’s starter in September after the Fighting Irish opened the season 0-2.

Pyne had 22 touchdown passes and six interceptions with an 8-2 record in 10 starts (11 games) in 2022. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Coming out of high school, he had a number of high-profile offers before the Connecticut native chose to head to South Bend, Ind., over Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and Michigan.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back Michael Wiley (6) runs for a touchdown against diving Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Merlin Robertson (8) in the first half of the Territorial Cup at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona holds on to beat ASU for first time in 6 years

Michael Wiley ran for 214 yards and three touchdowns, and Isaiah Taylor intercepted a pass with 1:16 to go as host Arizona ended a five-game losing streak to rival Arizona State with a 38-35 victory Friday in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats (5-7, 3-6 Pac-12) had a chance to put the game away late but failed to convert fourth-and-1 at the ASU 27, giving the ball back to the Sun Devils with 1:33 to go and no timeouts left. ASU drove to its 43 before Jacob Manu hit Trenton Bourguet as he threw, and Taylor picked off the floating pass at midfield.

It was Manu’s second big defensive play late in the game. Arizona was protecting the 38-35 lead when Arizona State (3-9, 2-7) was facing third-and-6 at the Arizona 20. Manu blitzed off the edge and knocked the ball loose from Bourguet and the Wildcats recovered with 3:17 remaining.

Wiley, a junior, scored on runs of 51 and 72 yards while setting a career high in rushing yards on just 12 carries. He also caught three passes for 51 yards as Arizona took possession of the Territorial Cup for the first time since 2016.

Bourguet, a junior from Tucson who walked on at ASU in 2019, was mostly brilliant against his hometown school, completing 37 of 49 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns. But two interceptions and the lost fumble were costly.

ASU interim coach Shaun Aguano finished with a 2-7 record.

ASU led 14-10 at halftime but the Wildcats were up 31-28 after a wild, back-and-forth third quarter in which the teams combined for 429 total yards and five touchdowns.

The Sun Devils forced Arizona into a three-and-out to begin the fourth quarter and forged ahead 35-31 when Bourguet connected with Jalin Conyers for a 4-yard score with 11:04 to go. The Wildcats answered with a 6-yard touchdown run from DJ Williams for a 38-35 advantage, the sixth lead change of the game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Nakia Watson (25) rushes for a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal during the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State rolls into matchup with Arizona State

It is not hard to find numbers that suggest Arizona State and host Washington State are evenly matched, especially on offense, going into their Pac-12 game Saturday at Pullman, Wash.

Both teams are 2-4 in conference play and are seventh and eighth in points scored and yards gained, with both categories slightly favoring Arizona State.

Yet Washington State (5-4 overall) has allowed only 20 points per game, vs. 31.1 for the Sun Devils (3-6), who couldn’t stop UCLA in a 50-36 loss at Tempe, Ariz., last weekend. In particular, the Bruins rushed for 402 of their 571 total yards.

Not that Washington State coach Jake Dickert expects it to be so easy for his team.

“I think Arizona State is a talented defense,” Dickert said. “I think it’s rare for them to give up that type of yardage, but I think there are some opportunities that we need to take advantage of in the run game, but more importantly, do it with our style and our way.”

The Cougars’ way starts with running back Nakia Watson, who has 491 yards rushing among his 668 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

In Washington State’s 52-14 blowout of host Stanford over the weekend, Watson ran for 166 yards and a score. Quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns, part of his 2,360 yards passing this season.

“They’ll be in four wides a lot, spread you out, throw the ball around,” Sun Devils defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said.

Henderson is aware the Sun Devils need “to make sure we don’t give the same looks in the secondary and making sure we disguise a little bit more.”

Arizona State has its own weapon in running back Xazavian Valladay, who piled up 92 yards rushing and two scores while making 10 catches for 89 yards against UCLA. Not that Dickert needed any convincing about Valladay, who has 1,061 yards from scrimmage 14 touchdowns (852 and 12 on the ground) this season.

“I’m very familiar with X,” Dickert said. “My three years at Wyoming (as assistant coach), X was one of the best tailbacks in the country. … He’s been phenomenal. He’s perfect for the (Sun Devils’) zone scheme running attack, and just like Nakia for us, always knew he could be a great pass threat.”

In his fifth collegiate season, Valladay has 4,926 yards from scrimmage (4,133 rushing) and 35 touchdowns (31 on the ground).

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Shaun Aguano reacts on the field before a game against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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

Sep 17, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards walks the sidelines as his team plays the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic

Football Asu Fb

Coach Herm Edwards on hot seat at Arizona State

Arizona State coach Herm Edwards is on the hot seat after the Sun Devils’ 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night.

The Sun Devils are 1-2, and university president Michael Crow clearly isn’t happy with the direction of the program.

“They showed up to play, and we didn’t,” Crow told The Arizona Republic after the game. “That’s basically the outcome.”

Edwards has had Crow’s endorsement in the past, but apparently not this time. In his fifth season at Arizona State, Edwards has a 26-20 record with two bowl losses and one win.

“Like anything, when you’re in combat, you support your officers,” Crow said. “And we’re in combat. But we’ll have to decide where we’re going from here and decide what the issues are and see where we’re headed.”

Things won’t get any easier for Arizona State, which begins Pac-12 play on Saturday against Utah, followed by Southern California — both ranked teams — the next week.

Before landing at Arizona State, Edwards coached the New York Jets (2001-05) and Kansas City Chiefs (2006-08) to a combined 54-74 record.

–Field Level Media

Arizona State coach Herm Edwards during a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Oklahoma State won 34-17

Osu Vs Asu

Arizona State hosts Eastern Michigan ahead of conference tests

With games looming against Utah and USC in the next two weeks, Arizona State and coach Herm Edwards are trying to not look past Eastern Michigan Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

The Sun Devils and Eagles are coming off humbling losses after winning their respective season openers the previous week.

Eastern Michigan (1-1) lost 49-21 at Louisiana while Arizona State (1-1) fell 34-17 at Oklahoma State.

“They’re very experienced on defense; they’ve played together for a while,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said of Eastern Michigan. “It’s going to be a good football game for us as we come off a tough loss and having to play these guys. It’s going to wake us up once we watch the tape.”

The Eagles kept Louisiana scoreless in the first half before allowing seven touchdowns in the second half off six turnovers.

“I told the guys, and I mean this, that we played really, really hard,” Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton. “It is impossible to win a football game especially against a championship-caliber opponent when you turn the ball over six times. If it’s a zero-zero turnover situation, it’s probably a fun locker room right now.”

Creighton has directed Eastern Michigan to three Power Five wins — Rutgers in 2017, Purdue in 2018, and Illinois in 2019. Creighton is the only active MAC coach to have multiple wins against Power Five teams.

All of Eastern Michigan’s defensive starters are returners from last season, including five seniors.

One of the seniors, defensive end Jose Ramirez, attended nearby Arizona as a freshman in 2017 before transferring to Riverside (Calif.) Community College ahead of his Eastern Michigan career. He had seven tackles, one for loss, against Louisiana.

He will target Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones, who completed 12-of-24 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown at Oklahoma State but was under duress consistently. He was sacked three times.

The Sun Devils failed to convert the first nine of their third down chances and finished 2 of 13 overall. They ran 61 plays. Oklahoma State ran 84.

— Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) is hit by UCF Knights defensive lineman Big Kat Bryant (1) on a pass attempt in the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Florida QB Emory Jones transfers to Arizona State

Former Florida quarterback Emory Jones indicated Thursday that he is transferring to Arizona State.

Jones posted a picture on his Twitter account with artwork showing him in a Sun Devils’ uniform.

Jones’ decision will give Arizona State an experienced quarterback after starter Jayden Daniels transferred to LSU in March.

Last season, Jones passed for 2,734 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for the Gators. He also rushed for 759 yards and four scores.

He played parts of four seasons with the Gators, throwing for 3,347 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and rushing for 1,273 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Due to the free eligibility season of 2020 due to COVID-19, Jones has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media