August 10, 2007

Defense shows potential in two-minute drill

After holding the first and second team offense to one field goal during Friday's live two minute drill sequence, the ASU defensive units made sure defensive coordinator Craig Bray didn't regret his high praise of encouragement from the day before.

"Yesterday, Coach Bray came into our meeting room just to have a pep talk with us and to say how proud of us he was and to keep up the good work," junior safety Jeremy Payton said after Friday's shortened workout.

Payton and company looked particularly sharp in pass defense, not allowing any long completions during the scrimmage.

"We switched it up from zone blitz to man blitz just to keep the offense off-balanced," Payton explained of the defense's success.

When the maroon jerseys weren't getting pressure on Rudy Carpenter or Danny Sullivan, the speedy secondary made up for it by covering every receiver tightly.

One play of the second team's two-minute-drill comes to mind.

Sophomore tight end Jovon Williams seemed open to the eyes of Sullivan, but Payton was running with Williams stride for stride on a flag route and was able to knock the ball away before a catch could be made.

Safeties coach Matt Lubick erupted with enthusiasm, slapping Payton on the shoulder pads while telling him nice coverage.

Lubick has to like what he has seen from his guys so far, with options at each safety position; the Sun Devils have something they have lacked in the past - depth.

Once the scrimmage concluded, coach Bray gathered the entire defensive unit together to hammer out a few finer points before Saturday's scrimmage.

"He was talking about how we have to disguise our blitzes better so our offense isn't aware of them," Payton said.

Blitzing or not, the ASU defense looked fast, fearless and ready to hit someone in the mouth - mainly because of the constant trash talking going back and forth between receivers and the secondary that's been going on for the entire week of practice.

With that said, Payton has his eyes set on laying a nice hit on the biggest stud on the offensive side of the ball.

"I'm trying to find Mr. Torain, the 1,000-yard rusher," he said.

It's very possible that his teammates might not completely echo that sentiment, but it's clear that everyone in camp is ready to hit someone full-speed.

The tipping point of the frustration came yesterday when junior receiver Nate Kimbrough and senior cornerback Justin Tryon had to be separated after a heated exchange of words.

"While we're at camp, we are around a whole bunch of guys so there's a lot of testosterone and everything," Payton said. "People are gunna' get on people's nerves, everyone is sharing space and nobody has any privacy."

Not to worry, eventually cooler heads prevailed, as the two squashed their beef.

"[Stuff] happens but it doesn't go beyond the field," Payton emphasized.

Part of the reason for the constant bickering between the offensive and defensive unit is due to the increased intensity level of summer practices.

The coaches don't play games," Payton said. "If you're not trying, they're not scared to sit you down and put someone else in, so everybody keeps trying their hardest."

And with that added intensity, Payton likes the chances of his side of the ball outplaying the offense on Saturday.

"I have a lot of confidence in our defense, I don't want to say too much, but I have a lot of confidence in our defense tomorrow."

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