Does Utah football need to worry about an interim coach at Arizona State?

Does Utah football need to worry about an interim coach at Arizona State?

Herm Edwards was fired on Sunday following an ugly loss to Eastern Michigan. RBs coach Shaun Aguano will coach against Utah on Saturday night

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Former Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards, left, and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham speak before an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

As No. 13 Utah prepares to face Arizona State on Saturday night in Tempe, it is doing so with the knowledge that the Sun Devils are being coached by Shaun Aguano, not Herm Edwards.

Edwards was fired as head coach on Sunday, less than a day after a frustrating loss to Eastern Michigan, while a significant NCAA investigation continues to hover over athletic director Ray Anderson’s athletic department.

Aguano, the running backs coach, is in for Edwards. Is that an advantage for the Utes? Is that an advantage for Arizona State? A new face in the head chair, potentially with new ideas and new schemes?

“I don’t think so, not in this case,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said during his normal Monday morning press conference. “I think Herm put a lot of faith in his coordinators, let them do their thing, and I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of change based on schematics with the offense and defense.

“It’s tough to do that in one week. Now, if they had a bye week, maybe you’d see more of that, but just going from Saturday to Saturday, there’s not much you can change in that period of time.”

In speaking on the Sun Devils ahead of the Pac-12 opener for both sides, Whittingham asserted that the roster Edwards is leaving has “a lot of good players” and that there is “not a shortage of talent,” but this is also a roster that yielded 304 rushing yards to the Eagles in a game Arizona State never led.

Still, an interim head coach offers at least some reason for pause.

“It’s like a wounded animal, it’s dangerous,” Whittingham said. “Oftentimes, you see an interim come in, they circle the wagons and give a supreme effort that next week. You never know what to expect, or what’s going to happen, but if you take them for granted, they’ll beat you. I promise you that.”

Will Diabate, Phillips III play at Arizona State?

Whittingham generally does not address injuries unless they are season-ending, but he did briefly dive into injuries to both cornerback Clark Phillips III and linebacker Mohamoud Diabate.

“Hope so,” Whittingham said. “Optimistic, optimistic for him and Mo Diabate.”

Phillips III disappeared to the injury tent during the third quarter on Saturday with what appeared to be a lower-body injury, but reemerged and spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Whittingham did not express concern for Phillips III’s status during his postgame press conference on Saturday.

Diabate sat out Saturday’s win after suffering an undisclosed injury vs. Southern Utah. In his place, fifth-year junior Andrew Mata’afa got his first career start.

Charlie Vincent vs. Ricky Parks

As he expected Saturday night after the win over San Diego State on Saturday night, Whittingham on Monday confirmed that running back Chris Curry is out for the season with an ankle injury.

When Utah released its latest depth chart on Monday morning, it listed Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, Jaylon Glover, and no fourth running back to replace Curry, but Whittingham intends to travel with four running backs, as is typically the case.

To that end, it is either going to be fourth-year sophomore running back Charlie Vincent, who has played mostly special teams in 14 career games, or redshirt freshman Ricky Parks.

Parks is a former four-star recruit, who has been buried in a loaded running backs room behind Thomas, Bernard, and now Glover.

“They need to be assignment-sound so we can trust them, blitz pickup, pass-protection stuff, that’s always a critical point,” Whittingham said. “You don’t want your quarterback to get drilled because of a missed blitz pickup. Hanging on to the football, possessing the football, that is job No. 1 offensively, taking care of the football.”

Aside from four running backs traveling, Whittingham typically employs four running backs at practice, with the rest of the position group as part of the scout team.

Kickoff time set for Oregon State game

The Oct. 1 game between the Utes and Beavers was announced on Monday morning as a noon MDT kickoff at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

This will mark the second time this season that Utah has kicked off at noon local time or earlier. Its 73-7 win over Southern Utah on Sept. 10 was an 11:30 a.m. start.

Oregon State, which is 3-0 for the first time since 2014, will face its first stern test of the season when it hosts No. 7 USC on Saturday night at Reser Stadium. The Beavers have wins over Boise State, Fresno State, and are coming off a rout of FCS No. 5 Montana State last weekend.

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