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ASU Football: Defensive line has anchored Sun Devils’ defense

(Photo: Brett Deckert/WCSN)

Even to the casual observer, it’s not hard to notice the defensive struggles that Arizona State has gone through this season.

The pass defense numbers speak for themselves, as ASU is last in the country when it comes to passing yards allowed per game. However, a huge improvement was shown defending the run game against UCLA, a big part of why ASU came away with the win. The Bruins’ two running backs combined for only 40 yards on 17 carries and could not solve the front seven.

Part of the reason why the running game was shut down was due to the fact that the Sun Devils were getting to the quarterback with ease, forcing UCLA to run in many situations.

Two of the five sacks were by Koron Crump, who has excelled since he stepped foot on campus. The transfer from Fort Scott Community College has been a force on the line at the Devilbacker position, totaling five sacks, which leads the team.

Crump said that getting off the ball, working on his technique, watching film and going 100 percent each day have been the keys for him this season.

The leader of the defensive line, junior Tashon Smallwood, was another big cog in stopping the run and has a pretty good idea as to why ASU is 12th in the country in rush defense.

“Just being sound up front,” he said. “Being sound in our keys and everybody staying to true to their gaps and doing what they were supposed to do.”

As for their matchup next week, the Colorado Buffaloes have overachieved expectations and provide another challenge for the Sun Devils. They are 32nd in the country in rushing yards, meaning that ASU’s defensive line will have to perform soundly once again.

“We know it’s going to be a battle,” Smallwood said. “It’s definitely a great Colorado team. Better than they have been, so we are not overlooking them. It’s going to be a challenge for us and we have to go in with a motivated mindset, just like when we were playing UCLA and USC or anybody else.”

Practice Notes:

  • Manny Wilkins once again did not participate in practice drills. He instead threw on the sidelines.
  • Freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole ran with the first team at quarterback during 11-on-0 drills. Freshman Jack Smith was with the second team, while redshirt sophomore Coltin Gerhart was with the third team.

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Jacob Janower
Jacob Janower is a junior sports journalism student at Arizona State. You can follow him on Twitter @JanowerJacob or contact him by email

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