Keegan Herring’s debut at Arizona State was so electrifying, so promising that coach Dirk Koetter saw fit to warn him to not get a big head — before the game even ended.
Koetter had his heart-to-heart on the sidelines in the fourth quarter on Thursday’s game against Temple, in which Herring, a true freshman, ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries.
“We talked on the sideline, but I’ve been impressed with how Keegan has carried himself since he has been here,” Koetter said on Friday. “He has handed his responsibilities well, and I thought he handled himself well in the (media attention) he got after the game.”
Now, the burning question: Has Herring’s performance altered the depth chart? The Peoria High product was No. 3 at tailback going into Thursday, with Rudy Burgess and Randy Hill in front of him.
Koetter said the tailback role is still “evolving” and will likely continue to do so until the Pac-10 opener at Oregon State on Sept. 24.
On Thursday, Burgess and Hill got the early carries before Herring came in during the second quarter against a worn-down defense. He burst for 15 and 14 yards on his first two carries and added a 28-yarder later.
Could such a reserve, change-of-pace role be ideal for Herring?
“Sure, that would be a great role, but if Keegan — or anyone — shows that he’s clearly the best tailback, he’s going to start,” Koetter said.
Senior defensive tackle DeWayne Hollyfield did not play on Thursday because of what Koetter described as an “academic issue that came up.” The coach said he is hopeful that the situation will be resolved in the next few days.
The Sun Devils did not get much of a rush without blitzing or stunting, and they failed to record a sack for the first time in Koetter’s tenure as coach. In fairness, there was not much continuity, as the fat point margin enabled 13 defensive linemen to shuttle in and out.
“I saw effort,” Koetter said. “Yes, we need more of a pass rush, but our guys have worked hard, and we’ll keep working at it.”
Koetter, in film study all day, had heard nothing new on the status of next week’s game at LSU. First-year Tigers coach Les Miles told NOLA.com that LSU officials “will do what is right for the state, right for the school.”
The LSU campus has become a refugee shelter in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Sept. 10 contest is still on for now, but ASU vice president of athletics Lisa Love has said it is a “day-to-day” situation.
In a related development, Koetter said freshman tight end Jovon Williams has had contact with his mother, who lives in a Mississippi town that suffered severe flooding.
The Sun Devils had 11 penalties for 101 yards against Temple. Koetter said he was most disappointed in a too-many-men infraction in the first quarter, which gave the Owls a first down. . . Seventy-one ASU players saw action on Thursday. . . Game balls went to Herring (offense), safety Maurice London (defense) and kicker Jesse Ainsworth (special teams).