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ASU Football: Sun Devils starting to get back on track

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The Sun Devils feel their mojo coming back to them.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

What a difference one game makes.

Around this time last week, Sun Devil Nation was in distress over the Arizona State Sun Devils' downward spiral. With a win over the then-No. 7 UCLA Bruins, everyone's demeanor shifted positively.

In Monday's press conference, coach Todd Graham and Mike Bercovici seemed a little more upbeat and relaxed, but still kept their focus. The theme of the presser was to applaud their effort in a pivotal win, and to keep that rhythm headed into conference play.

"Our backs were against the wall," Graham said. "Your character gets exposed when you face great adversity, and I think our guys showed what they're made of."

Graham said the team made several adjustments heading into the game, the most notable being offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson's return to the sidelines after spending the first five weeks of the season coaching from the press box.

Graham watched the game again alongside Norvell and called his playcalling "masterful."

"I thought that was a huge difference for us obviously in our players," Graham said. "Just everyone was pretty focused on their job at hand. I think Mike is a dynamic leader, and he's an inspirational leader, and so the players respond to him. So I liked having him back on the field."

Even Bercovici acknowledged Norvell's presence on the sideline gave the offense a boost.

"Obviously, Coach Norvell is the leader of our offense and specifically the leader of the quarterback group, so it was exciting to see him down there, just his on-field presence is unmatched," Bercovici said. "Just being able to communicate with him face-to-face, it was just a great night on Saturday night."

This was one of the ways the Sun Devils had their confidence renewed over the past week. Bercovici said the team already had the winning mindset right when the team touched down at the Burbank airport.

But it starts with practice.

Graham is known to say his team has had its best practice of the year in the past, but he said last week's practices were actually very true. As Graham feels the concept of practicing seems to be devalued on the college and professional levels, he said the team had emphasized on fundamentals. It's how the offensive line has improved in blocking and the defensive line has been better at getting off blocks.

"The biggest thing that we preached this week, at the start of this week, was fundamentals," Bercovici said. "It's basically going back to what we do best as football players, and that's stay true to who we are."

It wasn't just the players that had to adjust this way. The coaches needed to renew their intensity, too.

"I could tell everybody knew the sense of how important everything we'd worked for was, we had to go win," Graham said. "But we really don't -- the biggest difference was our intensity as coaches. That's being honest. That was the difference was the intensity there, and we quit -- we'd spent a lot of time -- sometimes with the schematics and things like that, and we just said, you know what, let's just -- man, let's just simplify it down and let's get after it and let's go put it together."