Even after giving up 406 yards on the ground to Oregon on Thursday, Arizona State still boasts one of the highest rated defenses in the nation. Behind the aggressive schemes and playcalling of defensive coordinator Paul Randolph, the Sun Devils look to rebound this week against the very familiar offense of UCLA.
We caught up with Coach Randolph to get an update on the status of Will Sutton, what his main takeaways were from the Oregon game and how he'll combat the Bruins.
House of Sparky: First off, how are Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali feeling?
Paul Randolph: They are feeling well. You know, moving around a little bit. Physical game the other night but they are doing well, the sun came up, and that's what we talk about everyday. The sun will come up in Tempe, Arizona.
HoS: How did their injuries impact the defenses effectiveness throughout the game?
PR: Naturally, when you lose a force like Will you lose a lot of production. But I think more than that, I just think the enthusiasm, passion and energy that he provides for the defensive unit and team. I think we lost a little bit of that early but then toward the second half we started playing better.
HoS: Even with a big deficit, guys like Anthony Jones and Brandon Magee were still giving their all in the second half, and Oregon didn't score in the second half. What momentum, if any, can you take from that performance?
PR: Our thing is we want to get better, we want to play better every week. Naturally, we want to work better everyday, and for us our momentum it is just getting better each and every single day. And the guys I think came out today, working a little and are getting introduced to UCLA and will show back up for the next work day.
HoS: What positives are you taking away from the Oregon game?
PR: The positives are the guys played hard, which we do everyday. We are really excited about the passion and the way the guys played to the end of the whistle and things like that. I think our backend did play extremely well, gave up few yards passing. So, I just think watching some for the guys continuing to get better fundamentally especially in the back end.
HoS: With a player of Sutton's caliber, if he should miss some time, what adjustments will you make to help compensate for his absence?
PR: Just getting the next guy ready to play, and the next guy he has got to step up if Will is going to miss some time. Well right now, I have got a number of them. You have got Jake Sheffield, you got Junior back in the lineup, we have a got a number of guys who have been getting reps at the position all year.
HoS: What things are going to be stressed in practice this week to help get back to the form we've come to expect from the ASU defense?
PR: Just fundamentals. You know, tackling, being where you are supposed to be, and getting lined up. Just basic fundamentals are the things for us to continue to get back on a winning track and continue throughout the season.
HoS: Your starting safeties in Alden Darby and Keelan Johnson each had some solid games, continuing strong seasons for both. Talk about their development and what they've meant to the defense this season so far.
PR: I'll tell you what, they have not only played with leadership and work ethic and just coming to work every single day. And then showing up on every game day, I can't say enough good things about Darby and Johnson. They both have are doing a spectacular job and I got them on my team.
HoS: You'll be facing a UCLA team that, like Oregon, boasts an elite RB and a very dangerous mobile QB in Brett Hundley. What adjustments are you making from last week to defend the run?
PR: Just do our job, we talk about each guy doing their one eleventh. And that's all we ask everybody to do, you do your one eleventh with a little bit of passion and enthusiasm.
HoS: How much of an advantage do you think your players will have facing a familiar Noel Mazzone offense on Saturday?
PR: I think there is familiarity amongst both staffs, no question about that, with him having spent so much time here. For us, the most important thing is us just working on us, and that's the biggest thing and getting better every single day.
HoS: In your opinion, what are going to be the top keys to limiting UCLA's top 20 offense?
PR: Stopping the run (laughs). You know that and every single game it starts with stopping the run. And naturally that is the thing we have to do and naturally our guys got to continue to play the way they have been playing.