Emerging from Camp Tontozona and beginning final preparations for opening the season, coach Todd Graham started nailing down some potential starters for this ASU defense.
Although competition will be ongoing, Graham is leaning towards a lineup that includes Lloyd Carrington and Solomon Means at corner. Graham insists that Kweishi Brown is pushing for playing time.
At safety, Damarious Randall and James Johnson will start. However, the ongoing situation with Marcus Ball will be interesting to watch. It is clear that everybody wants Ball on the field. But with his undisclosed injury, it may be tough to justify starting him for game one.
AS for the linebackers, Salamo Fiso, DJ Calhoun, Antonio Longino and Laiu Meokiola appear to be the starters. In the last two weeks, coach Graham has backed off of his assertion that TE/H back De’Mariyea Nelson will be a defensive player. It looks as though Nelson may play Devil Backer on third downs or obvious passing downs in order to rush the passer.
As for the defensive line, even though he was out for the first two weeks of camp, coach Graham has made it clear that Jaxon Hood needs to be on the field. Right now, he’ll be alongside Marcus Hardison and Edmund Boateng.
As mentioned, none of these positions are set in stone. The defensive front especially, will be quite fluid during games. Expect Renell Wren, Mo Latu and Tashon Smallwood to get plenty of game time.
And keep an eye on the linebacker situation. The defensive coaching staff has only shown confidence in Salamo Fiso as a rock solid starter. Everyone else is still “being pushed” by other personnel.
In any event, the defense is starting to take shape. Game time experience against Weber State will answer a lot of questions about personnel. And of course, as the season progresses, some players might get better at “figuring it out” than others.
Devils in Detail will stay on top of all these position battles and give updated analysis.