ASU Football: New look defense has a lot to prove

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Defensive lineman JoJo Wicker
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Defensive lineman JoJo Wicker /

After having one of the worst defenses in the nation over the past two seasons, ASU football is hoping new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is the answer.

Bennett was hired by Arizona State back in January of this year. Expectations for a defense led by Bennett, a coordinator known for gritty defenses, have risen substantially since his hiring.

A brand new defense is an exciting thought for Arizona State fans. After having to watch two straight seasons of defensive breakdowns and blowout losses thanks to the defense’s inability to stop the opposing offense, Bennett offers a ray of hope.

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The issue with the “new defense” arises when you take a moment and step back and look at the defense as a whole.

Yes, they have a new coordinator in Bennett. Yes, Bennett does have a strong resume to back up thoughts that ASU’s defense will be improved.

Despite all that, personnel matters just as much as the coordinator, and the defensive players the Sun Devils have aren’t the type of players that is going to take this defense to the next level.

The big issue that needs to be addressed is the secondary.

There are only three seniors listed as secondary players, and Arizona State added five freshman to the secondary.

While those five freshman will get to learn how to play Bennett’s style of defense from the get-go, they won’t be impact-players from the get-go. So while Bennett will bring grit to a defense that needs it, don’t expect the defense to go from the second worse in the FBS to top-50 in his first season.

What you can expect though is a defense that will always get after the quarterback, and will never give up.

There will be moments where the defense falters, that is to be expected, but the defense will never be out of a game.

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Bennett is the type of coordinator that simply doesn’t allow room for much error, and accountability matters. With that mentality guiding the defense, you can expect at least a few moments where Arizona State fans will be gushing about their team’s defense.