Bennett Embracing Task of Revamping ASU Secondary

For the Arizona State secondary there’s nowhere to go but up. No, really. Such is the case as the Sun Devils ranked last in the nation pass defense in 2016 allowing over 350 yards per game through the air. It’s Phil Bennett’s job to get it fixed.

Head coach Todd Graham, who missed a bowl game last year for the first time during his tenure in Tempe, believes he has the right man in charge of rehabbing the back-end of his secondary, despite the losses of veterans Kareem Orr (transfer) and Armand Perry (retired from football).

The veteran defensive mind was hired back in January and has hit the ground running, instilling not only his scheme but simple football fundamentals which seemed lost season.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not rocket science,” Bennett said after a recent practice at Camp Tontozona. “We’ve got to be able to tackle. Tackling is something that is neglected.”

The boisterous Bennett has certainly gotten his point across molding a group filled with speed but lacking experience…which is a dangerous game to play in the pass-happy Pac-12.

“Limit the [explosive plays] to a minimum and make people earn everything they get,” Bennett explained when asked about the keys to success for the back half of his defense. “We’ve got to take the vertical run and the vertical pass away from [teams].”

Bennett’s hands on teaching is evident from the moment practices starts until the final whistle. The players seem to have accepted the new leadership.

“Having Coach Bennett on us every step we make is making us better every day,” junior college transfer sophomore defensive back Kobe Williams told “We can’t get down on ourselves. We just have to keep working and get better. It’s just football at the end of the day.”

Graham has already seen improvement in fall workouts as ASU ramps up to their season opener August 31st against New Mexico State at Sun Devil Stadium.

“[Coach Bennett] has a passionate approach to the way he does things,” he said. “He brings the best out in those guys. Those guys have gotten better.”

Sun Devil Nation is banking on it.