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ASU Football: Defensive line takes new look in morning session

The Sun Devils' defensive line looked a little different with new faces in new places during Saturday's morning practice session.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State coach Todd Graham has said before that good teams don't rebuild, they reload.

The Sun Devils will be reloading in a big way on defense especially after losing nine defensive starters, six of whom were first or second-team all Pac-12 a year ago.

The defensive line has been a particular focal point during the early portions of fall camp and on Saturday it took a different look once again.

With junior defensive tackle Jaxon Hood still not at practice due to a personal issue, senior defensive lineman Marcus Hardison slid inside to the three-technique tackle spot while redshirt junior defensive tackle Mo Latu lined up as the other tackle.

Hardison said he prefers to play on the edge but didn't mind the move inside.

"It was real comfortable today," he said. "I had to move to three-tech, just something coach wanted to look at before the season starts but I felt good at it. I'm versatile to play end or three-tech so it was a good little practice today."

Along with the three-technique, Graham also highlighted the devilbacker, a hybrid defensive end and linebacker, as a key position to be filled going forward. Graham called the devilbacker "the tailback of our defense."

Currently, the top contenders to fill Carl Bradford's vacated spot are redshirt senior De'Marieya Nelson redshirt freshman Chans Cox and sophomore Viliami Latu

"I've been pleased with that position," Graham said. "I think we've got the explosiveness there to get that done."

Cox and Nelson split first team reps at Devilbacker Friday, but Saturday it was redshirt senior Marcus Washington running with the ones.

Washington has played a plethora of positions during his time at Arizona State including tight end, running back, WILL linebacker, SPUR linebacker and finally Devilbacker.

"It's different switching positions all the time," Washington said. "For me I know that whatever position I go to I want to do everything I can because, as a senior, I want to win."

"Being at the Devilbacker,  I love it because I love always going hard, just attacking people and hitting people."

It may still be a while before we see what the defensive line will look like for the first game against Weber State. The pads will finally come on Sunday when the newcomers and veterans mix for the first time on the field.

Notes

  • After watching practice film, Graham said freshmen Tashon Smallwood and Connor Humphreys were both polished and that Humphreys was particularly smart.
  • Graham said that redshirt sophomore linebacker Salamo Fiso has his best day and that Fiso needs to step up and be a leader.