TEMPE, Ariz. – Herm Edwards is set to make his debut as coach at Arizona State when the Sun Devils host Texas-San Antonio on Saturday night, his first time back on the sideline in 10 years. Edwards was the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006-08, then spent nine years as a studio analyst for ESPN before he was hired by the Sun Devils on Dec. 3.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Arizona State -18.5
Edwards inherited a team that returns 14 starters, including quarterback Manny Wilkins and his top two receivers N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams. Wilkins overcame an injury-filled 2016 season -- and the arrival of a high-profile transfer from Alabama who seemed destined to steal his job -- to confidently pass for 3,270 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, while also running for another 282 yards and seven scores.
Harry figures to benefit the most from Edwards' pro-style offense and the junior from nearby Chandler, Ariz., should improve on last season's totals of 82 receptions for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns. UTSA will be young and mostly inexperienced on offense, but the Roadrunners hired former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges to fill the same role and he should bring out the best in that group.
ABOUT TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (2017: 6-5)
The Roadrunners return four starters on offense and six on defense, led by senior defensive lineman Kevin Strong Jr. and junior linebacker Josiah Tauaefa, both preseason All-Conference USA selections. Strong had seven tackles for loss and three sacks for a UTSA defense that led Conference USA in seven categories.
Tauaefa set a freshman school record with 115 tackles in 2016 and was named to the C-USA all-freshman team, but he was slowed by a knee injury that caused him to sit out three games last season.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (2017: 7-6)
The Sun Devils will be short-handed on defense in their season opener, as senior linebacker Jay Jay Wilson has been suspended for an incident that occurred during a closed practice Aug. 15. Arizona State was already thin at linebacker because Koron Crump, a second-team all Pac-12 pick in 2016, is still not 100 percent after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in the third game last season.
Merlin Robertson, who played at Serra High School just outside of Los Angeles last season, is set to become the first true freshman to start at linebacker for the Sun Devils since Vontaze Burfict in 2009.
1. Arizona State has won its past 19 home openers, tied for the fourth-longest active win streak in the country.
2. Arizona State, North Carolina State and West Virginia are the only FBS teams that return two receivers with at least 60 receptions last year.
3. The warmest temperature the Roadrunners have experienced at kickoff was 92 degrees in the 2013 season opener at New Mexico. Temperatures are expected to be near 100 at kickoff Saturday.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 45, UTSA 17