TEMPE – With the Shaun Aguano era officially underway, Arizona State’s team captains say they are ready to roll with the changes.
After Saturday’s loss to Eastern Michigan, Herm Edwards and the university partied ways. With running back coach Aguano taking over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, the Sun Devils enter Pac-12 play with a blank slate.
“That’s life. Just like you guys, you get a new boss, what are you going to do? Sit back and pout? No you are going to work, so we are having that same mentality,” said linebacker Kyle Soelle, one of ASU’s captains. “New opportunities bring new beginnings so maybe for some guys a new face allows them to redefine themselves as a new person. Take the new opportunities and run with it.”
Running with it is exactly what the Sun Devils hope to do. While there is no ignoring the elephant in the room, some players believes the change might be exactly what they need to turn things around.
Captain Case Hatch believes that the administration made the right decision in promoting Aguano.
“If they were going to choose one guy for the job, I personally believe Aguano was the right guy to take over,” he said. “I firmly believe that and I will stand behind him and any decision that he makes 100 percent.”
Aguano’s presence has already been felt. Tuesday’s practice, Aguano’s first as interim head coach, was noticeably more physical, and players appeared energized and engaged.
Among the differences was music blasting throughout practice, with tracks including “Look Back at It” by A Boogie and “Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott playing. The pace throughout workouts was faster, and players were told of a “no walking” rule, which meant running on and off the field between drills and period transitions.
“He did things to implement that there was more energy, to make sure we were starting faster,” said captain and left guard Ladarius Henderson. “We made a lot of changes today that are long-term wins so we definitely won today. We can’t win the season or win Saturday today, so I feel like the changes we made won us today.”
Hatch said, “There were kids that didn’t like it as much but coach Aguano takes that. At the end of practice we came together and he mentioned he can hear the bickering on the sideline and he said that’s good. He wants the pushback, because he is not going to change no matter what happens on the sideline. And I love it. We need to be treated that way.”
The Sun Devils’ first test under Aguano comes Saturday, when rival No. 13 Utah comes to town. After last season’s second-half collapse at Rice-Eccles Stadium the team is looking to prove to the nation and themselves that they can handle adversity.
“I feel like, especially for me personally, there is a chip up here with these guys. We have chips because of coach Herm, because of a Pac-12 game, because of how it played out last year and personally I have a couple from my freshman year,”Henderson said. “I feel like there are a lot of things I want to avenge.”
Henderson and his teammates will get a chance to showcase their commitment Saturday night. The message Aguano sent is that this group is a family and togetherness is the key to overcoming their struggles.