ASU head coach Todd Graham preaches tempo and defense and that was the makeup of his team in his first year at the helm. On Saturday for the annual spring game, defense was the story as the offense struggled to put points up on the board.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly led the offense down the field and scored on a Marion Grice one yard touchdown run on the first possession of the game. After that, it was all defense and no scoring for the rest of the first half and then most of the second.
“I thought the defense dominated most of the scrimmage,” said Graham. “We turned the ball over a little bit too much. I wanted to see 100% ball security. And I wanted to see the defense get takeaways so either way it ain’t going to work out right. I thought they got after it.”
Granted plays are blown dead and quarterbacks are unable to scramble out of the pocket in a scrimmage, but the defensive line was dominant in the game. Wracking up nine total sacks in the game. Last season’s All-American Will Sutton and Davon Coleman led the way with two each. The defense forced two turnovers as well.
“We were out there just playing with high energy, high intensity,” mentioned ASU sophomore defensive tackle Jaxon Hood. “We came out here and got about 50 plays in all simple base technique stuff. And just played hard and put it all together. Everything we put together this spring.”
Defense will be the identity of the team next season with all the players returning from last year. Replacing Keelan Johnson at free safety, Brandon Magee at linebacker and adding overall depth is one thing that coach Graham said are the biggest keys between now and game one against Sacramento State.
Senior Alden Darby believe’s that this experience this defense has can take them a long way.
“We’re shooting for the national championship,” said Darby. “We believe that with the players we have, the coaches we have and the fans we have. We honestly believe that we can get that done. It’s the national championship that we are after.”
There were offensive highlights in the game. Running back Marion Grice averaged just under five yards per carry tallying 57 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Tight end Chris Coyle had six catches for 51 yards with two touchdown catches. Taylor Kelly led the team on some nice long drives and Michael Eubank made some very nice throws.