August 4, 2006
Camp Preview: Defensive Line
The Sun Devils will feature a substantially revamped defensive line this season, as they will add three transfers capable of providing an immediate impact. Two of these players, end Tranell Morant and tackle Michael Marquardt, looked very good in team workouts last season as they sat out post-transfer, and defensive end Loren Howard should be a big contributor as well. Putting this trio of newcomers in the mix with Kyle Caldwell, Jordan Hill, Will Kofe, David Smith, Brett Palmer, Shannon Jones Kellen Mills, Dexter Davis and junior college transfer Martin Tevaseu could considerably improve the unit.
Last season, Arizona State finished last in the Pac-10 in total defense, and 114 out of 117 Division I programs, allowing an eye-popping 468.75 yards per game but remarkably the Sun Devils finished a respectable fifth in scoring defense in the conference, giving up 29 points per outing. The reason for the anomaly? The Sun Devils had the second best red zone defense in the conference.
What that indicates to us is that in an open-field environment, the inability of the team's defensive line to get a strong push forced defensive coordinator Bill Miller to make scheme adjustments that were undesirable. In the red zone however, the team's deficiencies were not as easy to exploit and in fact, were easier to cover up because opposing offenses were working in a more restricted space. In other words, strong coaching allowed ASU to mitigate its weaknesses.
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