The 2012 Sun Devil defense will bring with it new schemes--and more importantly--a new attitude.
At the forefront of this new attacking mentality, will be the new Devilbacker position. Last week, we spoke to Arizona State's starter at that position to break down the details of what to expect from the Devilbacker spot in 2012 and beyond.
Our next entry in "12 in '12" interview series continues the talk with Bradford, the ultra-talented redshirt sophomore. His blend of strength, size (6'0", 240 pounds) and skill should wreak havoc with opposing offenses in 2012 and beyond.
We get his thoughts on the new attitude of ASU football, what the defense should produce in 2012, Camp T and whether switching positions frequently hindered his development and more.
Brad Denny: Last year was a tale of two seasons. In your opinion, what happened to cause that 0-5 finish?
Carl Bradford: At the beginning, we came out and played ASU football in the best we ever played. Towards the end of the season, it just seemed like we had all the bad luck we could get, one right after another. I can't pinpoint exactly what was the cause, but it was just devastating to see such a good first half go to waste by not finishing it.
BD: Over the course of last season you saw time at both linebacker and defensive end. Was that helpful to you, or did you find the change disruptive in any way?
CB: I think it was helpful for me. Playing defensive end allowed me to work on my hands on tackles and such. It helped me a lot to be versatile to be able to switch between the two, and that falls into the Devilbacker position. It was a good thing that I played both.
BD: Since coming in, Coach Graham has made a major effort to completely revamp the culture of the program. What has that transition been like for you and your thoughts on how the team as a whole has taken to them?
CB: Coach Graham changed everything for the better. It's still the Sun Devil Way, but it's a good fit for me since I have bought in completely. I think it's going to be an all-around good aspect for the team, making us more disciplined. I think it's a great change.
BD: After years of more passive schemes, how exciting is it for the entire defense to be taking a new aggressive approach?
CB: Oh, I love it. My position is basically "go get it." Just line me up, I'm going to go get the ball. I love blitzing. I love attacking. I love this new defense. I think it's going to wreck a lot of the offensive coordinators we are going to go against.
BD: With all of the transition surrounding the defense, both in terms of scheme and personnel changes, how important has the leadership qualities of Brandon Magee been?
CB: It's been great. Since I got here, he's been a great leader to me, and he's been a great leader to the other young athletes here. He contributes a lot to the leadership here.
BD: Over the last half of the year, the secondary struggled mightily. I talked to Deveron Carr recently, and he said that "the more pass rush you get, the more picks you get." Does the front seven feel a responsibility to help out the defensive backs with a pass rush?
CB: I think I feel the same way about him. We have to pressure the quarterback to get the hurries so he'll throw a bad ball so the defensive backs can get their picks. Our rush is importantly. Really important.
BD: A little spoiler alert, but we at House of Sparky have you ranked pretty high up on our Most Important Players in 2012 countdown. Has coming into the season with much larger expectations than your prior years changed your approach at all?
CB: No, not really. Since I've gotten here, I've been switching positions, so I think in this position I feel more at home. It's in between linebacker and defensive end and I can play both really well. I love this new position and I can't wait to show the world what it's all about.
BD: Coach West is now coaching up the Devilbackers, so what are your thoughts on him? How is the rest of the defense taking to them?
CB: I like Coach West. He's an old school coach and I'm an old school type player. We've bonded really well. He' a great coach. I think the players are buying into him and trying to learn from him, as he has a lot of experience. It's a good fit.
BD: What are your thoughts on the return to Camp Tontozona?
CB: I can't wait. I'm excited for it. I've never been there. I've heard a lot of great stories about it. I know a lot of former players, and that's where a lot of our history came from. I'm a big tradition guy, so I'm really excited.
BD: What are your major goals for 2012 and the rest of your Sun Devil career?
CB: Number one: go to the Rose Bowl. Number two: to lead my team to become better men and better players, and to take on that leadership role myself. For the rest of my career, to do everything I can for my team. I'm not an "individual guy". I like to come as one and make us a team. I just want to do anything I can do get this university wins and make us a top program.
BD: The overriding theme since Coach Graham's arrival in December has been "Speaking Victory". How do you define that term?
CB: ":Speaking victory" is not just on the football field or around the stadium. It's about your everyday life. Staying positive about everything in life. Not just when we step into the building. It's about when we're out or at the house. Never talk negative, always positive thoughts. That's a great way to live. "Speaking victory" is really helpful for me.
BD: What do you feel is the one X-factor-whether it's a player, scheme, mentality-for this team to succeed this fall?
CB: When Coach Graham came in, he talked to us about character. I think all of the guys have had great character since he's been here, and he taught us more discipline. I think that will be a big factor in the 2012 season. We have talent, but you can't do anything without discipline. He's been preaching that since he's gotten here, and there's been a huge improvement.
Don't miss our talk with Bradford as he breaks down the Devilbacker position in-depth
Previous interviews in our "12 in '12" series: QB Michael Eubank, K Alex Garoutte, RB James Morrison, C Kody Koebensky, CB Deveron Carr, QB Mike Bercovici