Brandon Magee (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)
Yesterday, all you Arizona State fall camp offensive previews weren't so far away. Today, we now give our pre-fall camp looks at the defensive and special teams groups, but with a euphonious twist.
In addition to our breakdown, we're additionally joined by the Fab Four whose vast catalog will provide the perfect soundtrack for each position.
So without further ado...ladies and gentlemen...the Devils!
Defensive Line - "All Together Now"
"4-3, 3-4 / Several fronts and then some more"
One of the more fascinating aspects of the new defense brought in by Todd Graham and defensive coordinator Paul Randolph is the malleability of the defensive line. After years of running a traditional 4-3, the Sun Devils will be running multiple front, including three and four down linemen sets.
The big story--literally and figuratively--to watch in this regard will be the arrival of 6'5", 340 pound Mike Pennel from the juco ranks. The Devils hope to have Pennel anchor the nose when the team runs it's three-man fronts, and his surprising agility will allow the team to keep him on the field in more situations. His integration into the defense and how the coaches use him will have a ripple effect along the entire line.
Junior Will Sutton's combination of size, strength and speed makes him the unit's most talented and crucial player. For all the hype, Sutton has to realize his potential, and this season represents a "no excuses" situation. His versatility allows him to play tackle in a 4-3 or slide out to end in a 3-4, and in either situation, he should see much greater production than last season.
At tackle, newcomers Jaxon Hood and Jake Sheffiled will join Corey Adams in a battle for rotation time. Hood, an incoming freshman from Chandler Hamilton, has the potential to see time early in his career, especially if Adams continues his career long battle with the injury bug. Davon Coleman is most experienced returning defensive end after seeing action in all 13 games, and Toa Tuitea and Gannon Conway will be in the mix for playing time at tackle and end.
Devilbacker - "Helter Skelter"
"When I get to the edge, I go around your block and over your back / Where I hit and I turn and I get a big sack"
This new position is all about one thing: wreaking havoc. A blend of defensive end and linebacker, the Devilbacker will be used in a number of creative and explosive ways, embodying the new defensive philosophy.
Starter Carl Bradford has the makings of ASU's next defensive star. He has all the tools to be a good pass rusher and a disruptive presence against the run, something ASU has sorely lacked in recent years.
Behind him will be Junior Onyeali, coming back from his suspension. Onyeali has really turned things around, and comes in to camp in great shape and with a positive mindset. He retains the great edge speed that helped him become the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010, but has added strength to his 5'11", 230 pound frame. If he can reach that level again with a strong camp, he and Bradford could become a dominant duo.
Linebacker - "With a Little Help From My Friends"
"What would Magee think if he had all new guys / Would he be able to do it alone?"
Even when you get Brandon Magee, losing your top four linebackers from a year ago is cause for concern. While he has rightfully become the leader of the defense and the face of the program, he is still returning from a season-ending Achilles injury, and will hopefully be 100% sometime early in camp. If he is able to get back to his pre-injury self, ASU will have a terrific playmaker surrounded by question marks.
Incoming juco transfer Steffon Martin figures to see plenty of time, and the Sun Devils will need him to get acclimated quickly. Martin has major talent and can quell many of doubts of the group with a strong camp. Kipeli Koniseti and Grandville Taylor each had outstanding springs filling in for Magee, and have a chance to get into tjhe rotation should they continue their strong runs.
The depth of the position will see three incoming freshman in Salamo Fiso, Carlos Mendoza and Matt Rowe. Of the three, Fiso may have an edge in terms of seeing the field in 2012, but given the uncertainty of the position, a strong showing by any of them could result in avoiding the redshirt and seeing the field.
Secondary - "Don't Pass Me By"
"Don't pass us by / we'll lock you down / don't burn us deep"
Far too often over the last five games, ASU's secondary was caught in situations like this, watching as another receiver got behind them. Rather than be dejected, the returning secondary has used those failures as motivation.
At cornerback, Osahon Irabor had a terrific spring and has a starting spot on lockdown. On the other side, the talented Deveron Carr will try to hold on to his starting spot from the surging Robert Nelson in one of the top camp battles. While Carr dealt with nagging injuries in the spring, Nelson had a very strong showing, and figures to be--at worst--the top nickel back. Two talented players coming back from injury will vie for the fourth spot in Devan Spann and Rashad Wadood.
Over at safety, Alden Darby and Keelan Johnson have incredible physical skills and have proven to be able playmakers. The only thing needed is consistency in their performances, and if they can find that, a shaky backline becomes very solid. Behind them, newcomer Laiu Moeakiola will battle Ezekiel Bishop and Kevin Ayers for playing time.
At the spur position, which is a roving hybrid of safety and linebacker, Anthony Jones will battle newcomer Chris Young. That should be an exciting battle to watch, as each player has some freakish athleticism and playmaking ability.
Kick/Punt Returners - "Let it Be"
"When I find my defense in punting downs / Jamal Miles goes back deep"
It may very well be getting to the point that teams will start refusing to kick to Jamal Miles. The incredible Miles ran two kickoffs and one punt back for scores last season, and he has several ASU return records in his sights in 2012.
Yet he is not alone in bringing excitement on special teams. Rashad Ross had a 98-yard touchdown return against Boise State. He looked good on punt returns in the spring, and with his elite speed, he's one seam away from the endzone at all times.
Kicker and Punter - "Getting Better"
"Graham's got to admit it's getting better / Kicking better all the time"
Some costly misses against UCLA and Washington State obscured an otherwise promising debut season for kicker Alex Garoutte, who was 13 of 18 on field goal attempts, and showed a strong kicking leg. The new coaching staff has helped Garoutte regain his confidence and improve his technique, and they feel he is in line for a big second season.
Punter Josh Hubner was solid in his first year, and a strong offseason has him believing that he can become one of the nation's best. He was very complimentary of new long snapper Easton Wahlstrom, who he described as having a "cannon".