It took only a few minutes into the Todd Graham era in Tempe for the idea of installing a new, attacking defense to be brought up. After several years of a passive scheme, the idea of an aggressive unit was enticing, but given that the majority of the roster had spent time in the old scheme, there was some question about whether it would be later rather than sooner until the Sun Devils took the fight to the offense.
One way to speed up the process is to bring in players that fit the scheme, and the ASU coaching staff did that with Chris Young. Brought in from Arizona Western College, Young's athleticism and skills seemed like a natural fit for the new defense's "spur" position, which blended elements of linebacker and safety.
After four games, it's safe to say that it's been a perfect fit. Young has been a leather-seeking missile, flying all over the field to make a team-high 32 tackles, but more importantly, 8.5 of those have been for loss, among the highest totals in the nation.
House of Sparky's Ben Haber caught up with the dynamic defensive playmaker after practice to get his thoughts on the early success.
House of Sparky: Coming over from Arizona Western, it seemed like getting into the flow at ASU took a little bit longer than perhaps was ideal. Were you worried about falling behind at the beginning of your Sun Devil career?
Chris Young: Definitely. When I first came in, it was an adjustment for me coming from juco. I just came in with the right mindset to get better and further my ability to play football. That really helped me. My drive to stay motivated and stay focused really helped me out a lot.
HoS: You seem to be a player who thrives on taking the attack to the offense. How much of a factor was ASU's new aggressive defensive scheme in your decision to come here?
CY: For the most part, yeah. When I was talking to Coach Graham before I got here, I really enjoyed the type of person he was. He seemed like he always wanted to win. I like that and I feed off of that type of mentality. That was a big part of my choice in coming here, surrounding myself with great people, and the defensive scheme, obviously.
HoS: It seems that the spur position is tailor-made for your dynamic skill set. Talk about playing as the spur 'backer and what a weapon it has become.
CY: You just have to be able to make plays when given the opportunity. It's a pretty physical and fun position. Once you get the hang of it, you just really enjoy playing it.
HoS: Right now, only four players in the nation have more tackles-for-loss than you. What are your thoughts on your early success?
CY: (Laughs) I always go back to the drawing board. I'm never satisfied with what I do. I look for improvement. You just gotta stay hungry and stay motivated.
HoS: How has playing and learning from a guy like Brandon Magee made the transition from the juco level to the Pac-12 easier?
CY: I've noticed a lot of passion. Coming here, the passion is great, not just from Brandon himself, but the whole defense and offense as well. I just really like that and it helps me play better.
HoS: What's it been like working with the coaching staff, especially Coach West?
CY: (Laughs) The coaching staff is straining, but everything they teach us really helps us improve as a defense.
HoS: How much easier has the job of the linebackers been thanks to the beastly play of Will Sutton?
CY: Man, I think it's 20 or 30 times better with the defensive line and Will Sutton getting a push up front. It really opens up a lot of opportunity for everyone at the other positions.
HoS: What's going to be the key to playing a complete game on the road?
CY: We just have to stay focused and come out with the same intensity that we do for homes games.
HoS: The Cal offense has some explosive playmakers. How are you and the defense planning to contain the Bears?
CY: We have to pursue and make sure we do the assignments that we have set out for the week. We have to focuse on what we have to do and really work together.