: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ASU Football: Defense Is Turning Heads Early


Nov. 23, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA: Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback (10) Taylor Kelly celebrates an ASU touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

ASU Sun Devil football is hitting the turf again this week and as we move through these spring practices it perhaps gives fans a glimpse of what’s to come this fall.

Last Saturday’s long scrimmage gave Sun Devil fans a first look at the defense that will be filling the void left behind by the 9 of 11 starters, 2 or 3 of which will likely be drafted to play at the next level. This group is looking to turn heads early and make people forget about guys like Will Sutton and Carl Bradford. They have already got the attention and praise from the coaching staff after Saturdays debut. Head coach Todd Graham said this of his defense after Saturday’s practice,

“It goes to show that this game is meant to be played with great emotion. It doesn’t matter what happened last year or what somebody says or what somebody reports or who picks you or all that stuff you gotta come and you gotta bring it every single day.”

Sounds like he loves that this defense is being overlooked because of their youth and inexperience.

One of Coach Graham’s studs who has shined so far is 4-star true freshman linebacker, D.J. Calhoun. Calhoun has played his way into first team reps at weak side linebacker. The coaching staff has praised his efforts so far, but defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will be the first to tell you he still has work to do.

“He (Calhoun) does a lot of good things at times and other times he plays like he should still be in high school… I really do like what I’ve seen from him to this point. He has some God given natural ability and instructiveness you can’t coach.”

Coach Graham’s biggest fear for the scrimmage was that the defense would be unable to stop ASU’s potent offense in its first real test. But they were all over them in a big way. The defense ended up forcing 4 turnovers and had 12 tackles for a loss. Graham was far from pleased by the play at the QB position. Incumbent starter Taylor Kelley finished the scrimmage going 9 for 20 with 67 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. Not the type of numbers you want to see out of your starter but remember folks, its spring, not fall.

Don’t credit the offensive line for the poor offensive performance. This years unit may be the deepest in the PAC 12 with what looks to be 8 potential starters fighting for 5 starting spots. Not a bad problem to have. The one issue with this years line is inexperience. For more in depth analysis check out Mike Slifer’s take on this years offensive line.

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