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ASU Football: Defensive player notebook (10/23)

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D-line coach Jamar Cain and players speak about the Utah game and the upcoming UCLA matchup

ARIZONA STATE V UTAH Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The No. 24 Sun Devils defensively had a game that saw them give up two touchdowns in the first half but they were able to find themselves. After 14 points in the first half, the defense figured out the Utah offense, causing four turnovers in the game. The 21-3 loss is in the past and now the defense is looking to take down the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl Saturday.

UCLA on Tape:

Defensive line coach Jamar Cain spoke about the UCLA offense and how they are a different running team than any opponent the Sun Devils have faced so far.

“(Demetric) Felton is a really good player, he runs the ball hard and (Joshua) Kelley is a really good player as well. they have got two really good running backs and the offensive line is playing really well together. With the quarterbacks run game (Dorian Thompson Robinson), it is going to be a tough team for us and we got to make sure we prepare well for home. We are doing a good job though.

“We haven't seen much stretch, we saw more downhill teams all this year, and they like to get to the perimeter quick so it's something different we haven't seen all year.

Defensive backs Kobe Williams and Aashari Crosswell also spoke about UCLA’s offense and what they are preparing for.

“Just a lot of athletes out on the field,” Williams said. “We cant take them lightly, guys show up and show out. Last year they gave had a great game with us too and they got a genius in Chip Kelly and he comes with a whole different plan every single game. That’s important to know because as you watch film and see him run this play one game and never see him run that same play again. He’s a genius and the guys know the ins-and-outs but those guys have got athletes on the field.

Williams pointed out that the two players that catch the defense’s eyes are redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Phillips redshirt junior running back Demetric Felton.

Crosswell added: “I’ve been watching film. They have some impact players that can hurt us. I know two personally, I played with Kyle Phillips and I know what he’s about. I told everybody today when we were watching film, we have to play inside leverage on him and got to be patient with him because he is a good route runner and he’s pretty fast…He’s one hell of a player and I cant wait to go against him.”

Looking back on the Utah game

As a defensive unit, the Sun Devils caused four turnovers (one interception and three fumbles) but only resulted in three points. Cain still sees positives coming out of the defeat.

“Oh yeah, there were so many positives. I thought we played physical up front. We were holding our own and just doing what we had to do. We gave up too many points early and then we gave up that last touchdown. Take away that series in the second quarter where we gave up 45 yards in penalties, take that away and you go into halftime at 7-3, then you go into the fourth quarter 7-3 giving yourself a chance.

“There was a lot of positives there and that was a really good offensive line, that’s one of the better ones we have played against. We met them head on and it was a challenge, it was a challenge for us and I think we met that challenge head on.

“There was a lot of takeaways from that game. We just got to get that across to our guys, ‘Hey, one game does not dictate your season.’ I know there was so much hype about that game but we are still young and we just to keep playing and understand that we are going to have our highs and lows and just keep on fighting.

Cain went on to mention that the team at this point last year was 3-4, and has made a complete flip in being a 5-2 team and nationally ranked.

Four turnovers for the Sun Devil defense Saturday

For Crosswell, he added that defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales has made it an importance for the defense to come away with more turnovers. Since his first day as a Sun Devil, the defense has taken notice of it.

“It’s a blessing. He’s (Gonzales) been talking about this since last season. As soon as we lost to Fresno, he was preaching to us when we got back that following week. He was talking to us about it. If we want to go to the Rose Bowl, we have to have takeaways and we got to make plays. We have got to do what’s right. No assignment mistakes, it's just the little things that matter right now.”

Arizona State has a turnover margin of plus five, seven games into the season, putting them tied at 19th in the nation for turnover margin.