Sep 25, 2010; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky holds a "Duck hunting time" sign before the game against the Oregon Ducks at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Arizona State Sun Devils (Part 2: Defense)

The Arizona State defense will need to be an important part of the team in 2012 if the Sun Devils want to improve this season. During the 2011 season, the Arizona State defense gave up an average of 19.5 points in their first six games (5-1 record) while they gave up an average of 36.4 points in their final seven games (1-6 record) which included their 56-24 loss against #7 Boise State. The 2011 season was a season of great potential for the Sun Devils that ended in dismay.

The biggest key to the Arizona State defense in 2012 will be their head coach, Todd Graham. Todd Graham will be entering his first ever season with the Sun Devils in 2012. Last season, Graham spent his time leading the Pittsburgh Panthers to a 6-6 record and a 28-6 loss in the BBVA Compass Bowl to the SMU Mustangs.

Graham is a defensive minded coach. He played defensive back in college during the 1980s and created the historical physical defense that was showcased by his 2010 Tulsa team. That Tulsa team went 10-3 in 2010 with a 62-35 win in the Hawaii Bowl against the Hawaii Warriors and also led the nation in interceptions (24) and finished third in the nation in turnovers gained (36) in 2010.

According to the Arizona State spring prospectus,


“ASU’s defense intends to persistently attack and relentlessly pursue opponents, aided by top-flight versatility and athleticism at every defensive position on the roster.”


An important player to make sure the ASU defense keeps to this philosophy will be Alden Darby. Darby is an amazing athlete with a lot of skill. He use to play both offense and defense, but made the switch to safety upon entering Arizona State. In 2011, Darby played in thirteen game, but only started two of them. He racked up three interceptions in only his second college season.

As Darby enters his junior year, he will need to help coach Graham shape the ASU defense into a different version of what Graham had in 2010 while at Tulsa.

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Tags: Alden Darby Arizona State Arizona State Football Arizona State Sun Devils BBVA Compass Bowl Boise State Hawaii Bowl Hawaii Warriors MAACO Bowl Pittsburgh Panthers SMU Mustangs Todd Graham Tulsa

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