Improved ASU defense looking to build on 2012 success

Arizona Sports News online

Watch one Arizona State football practice and you’ll soon realize head coach Todd Graham and his staff are never standing still, never not teaching, and certainly never content. If a drill is not executed properly it is done again and possibly again.

It’s this attention to detail which helped the Sun Devils to an eight-win season in 2012, which included a drastically improved defense under Graham and defensive coordinator Paul Randolph. The duo stress accountability and attention to detail in ASU’s attacking scheme that tallied 117 tackles for loss last fall, tying for second most in school history.

As spring workouts continue in Tempe the Devils will look to build on their defensive success behind a number of playmakers including safety Alden Darby, linebackers Chris Young and Carl Bradford and the leader up front All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton who returned for his senior season after testing the NFL waters in January. Sutton burst on the national scene last fall dominating the point of attack and frequently finding his way into offensive backfields registering 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.

“He’s a student of the game,” Randolph told Thursday afternoon describing Sutton. “He studies football…thinks about it all the time. He has a passion to be great. He’s been our hardest working guy here. He came back with a purpose and the work to get better and he’s doing that.”

Randolph said he is hoping for improved consistency from Young who’s production dropped off as the season progressed. The same goes for Darby who steps into the leadership role of the secondary following Keelan Johnson’s graduation.

“We have a few holes we do have to fill,” Randolph explained. “We feel really great about the guys we recruited and brought in. We’ll have depth and competition from the guys that we signed once the fall rolls around.”

He also believes the return to Camp Tontozona last summer helped further cement the fundamentals values the Sun Devil coaches thrive for with the program.

“You want to get down to your roots,” he said. “Where’s the guys have to depend on each other. That’s what Camp T. does for us. It gives us a chance to get away…we’re out in the wilderness roughing it and the guys have to talk to each other, spend time with one another, and really grow to know each other in a stronger way.”

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.