Last Thursday was not the finest hour for Arizona State's defense. The Sun Devils gave up 406 yards on the ground and 43 points to the Oregon Ducks, but not for one second did the group give anything less than 100% effort.
Such a great never-say-die example was set by senior linebacker Brandon Magee, who posted eight tackles and a sack. Magee continued a very strong final season in Tempe, and with the Ducks behind him, is ready to lead the Sun Devils into a crucial Pac-12 South match-up against UCLA on Saturday.
We caught up with Magee after Wednesday's practice to get his thoughts on the lessons learned from the Oregon game, Will Sutton, and how to beat the Bruins.
House of Sparky: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from facing Oregon?
Brandon Magee: If you're not gap sound and aligned right, then you'll get beat. That was the game. We aligned wrong sometimes and were not gap sound, and they scored off of those. We need to eliminate big plays.
HoS: What's the mindset of this defense right now coming off that loss and looking to rebound?
BM: That we need to show the world what were made of really. Coming into the UCLA game, Homecoming game, with a lot of family out there. We have to represent. We have to play Arizona State football which is hard nosed defense and blitzing a lot.
HoS: The big story is the health of Will Sutton. Should he not be able to go, how well do you think the defense is equipped to replace him?
BM: As the defense as a whole, somebody's gotta step up and replace him. Will Sutton's a heck of a player and he will be missed out there. But like I said, somebody's gotta step up in his place and make some plays, especially on the D-line, and everybody else will be fine.
HoS: The loss last year in Westwood was the beginning of the end for ASU. How is this year's team better equipped to come back strong and not let loss and other adversity snowball?
BM: We're prepared for it. People are watching more film than ever, we're more motivated, we're having great practices this week. I feel that heading into this game against UCLA, we'll be really well prepared for them.
HoS: The Noel Mazzone offense is one that you and your veteran teammates are familiar with. In what ways will that experience help the defense on Saturday?
BM: I would say it helps, but it kind of doesn't. He knows that we know the plays, and he knows our personnel, so it goes both ways. I don't know...it's going to be an interesting match-up. A pretty even match-up if you ask me. Whoever plays the hardest will win this game.
HoS: Just like last week, you'll be facing a talented running quarterback this week in Brett Hundley. How are game planning to ensure he isn't able to make big plays with his feet?
BM: We just got to contain them. He's really fast out of the pocket, and if he steps up in the pocket, somebody's gotta hit him, especially a linebacker. Every time he runs, we just have to punish him. He's a heck of an atghlete and he makes a lot of plays with his feet.
HoS: In your mind, what are the three keys to stopping this powerful UCLA offense?
BM: We have to stop the run and stop them on third downs. We have to get off the field on third downs. That's big time.