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ASU Football: Defensive Notebook

Danny Gonzales and Kobe Williams spoke on Wednesday

Washington State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Defensive Coordinator Danny Gonzales and senior cornerback Kobe Williams spoke to the media about the upset victory against Oregon, and the upcoming game versus Arizona on Wednesday.


Gonzales has been known to throw out interesting factoids during his weekly press conferences and he asked the media Wednesday if anyone knew why the rivalry is called the Territorial Cup.

Gonzales, a football history guru himself, already knew the answer.

“November 30th, 1899. Thanksgiving day by the way, first meeting between the two schools. We win, it was the Tempe Normal School, 11-2. Arizona is not a state yet. 1912, they become a state. The four schools that played were Phoenix High School, Phoenix Indian High School, the school down south, and us. We won all those games that year so we were the territorial champion and then it became named the Territorial Cup because we were a U.S. territory at that point,” said Gonzales as he went through his history lesson.

The Sun Devil d-coordinator also added that the overall series should have started counting when Arizona State became a funded university to make competition fair for the two schools.

“I’m a big Prop 200 guy so if you go to when we became a university in 1958, we have got a lead in the series 33-26-1,” Gonzales said. “1946 after the war, every single year from that point on, we have played a game 40-32-1 in our favor.”

Being apart of the oldest rivalry in college football

Gonzales is about to embark on his second game of the longest rivalry in college football. The NCAA has deemed the Territorial Cup with that honor, and for his first taste last season, Gonzales had one of the biggest wins in the history of the matchup.

“It’s a great rivalry. The NCAA has declared it the longest rivalry in all of college football, which makes it special,” Gonzales said. “Being a part of it last year, we found out how real it is and the hatred it is and it grows. I’m excited about it, excited to play.”

As for the game plan itself, Gonzales gave praise to the Wildcats, despite their current losing streak and coaching changes.

“They have two quarterbacks that are very dynamic, different. Everyone knows about Khalil Tate. He’s one play away from scoring every single play,” Gonzales said. “I think (Grant) Gunnell is going to be a special quarterback down the road. He’s done some really nice things this year. I think J.J. Taylor is special, hard to tackle, he’s explosive and I think you can compare him to CJ Verdell from Oregon. He hits that thing down hill and he’s a jitterbug. You can’t see him because he’s behind the line of scrimmage and he’s 5-foot-6. You can’t see him.”

Preparing for two Quarterbacks

Both Tate and Gunnell have taken snaps under center for the Wildcats and Gonzales knows how to prepare his team for the two different styles of play.

“They run different plays that the different quarterbacks can make. You are basically practicing two semi game-plans,” Gonzales said. “It is up to relaying that information to the kids and we have done a pretty good job this week by how we have done it with Ethan (Long) and Joey (Yellen). We have an advantage. We have a guy similar to what Khalil does and we have a guy similar to what Gunnell does.”

Coaching Carousel

With Bob Davie stepping down as the New Mexico Lobos head coach after their last game, Gonzales’ name has been circled around his alma mater. However, the current Sun Devil coach says he is the defensive coordinator at Arizona State, and he loves it.

“When you are wanted, it is always nice. I don’t chase anything. I haven’t made a single phone call for somebody to get me that job. My name has been brought up for a couple of jobs and I haven’t made a single phone call, and I won’t. It’s not what I do. Those guys that are constantly chasing jobs get a reputation and that’s just bad business,” Gonzales said.

“I love where we’re at and we have a great situation here. We have a great opportunity here. I really believe that. As bad as it seems in some aspects, we have made progress...I’m excited for what our future holds here, I really am.”

Kobe Williams on being a defensive leader

The senior captain has been one of the most consistent players on defense. Gonzales even commended Williams with those attributes. Williams addressed the comments made by his defensive coordinator.

“It’s just giving my all for the team and doing whatever I can for them,” Williams said. “Playing safety, corner, nickel anything like that, and just taking on that challenge to be one of the most experienced guys out there and taking any challenge for the team to get that win.”

Williams has done that with injuries occurring in the secondary to redshirt freshman safety Cam Phillips and freshman safety Willie Harts III. Williams played bits of the season as a safety, and last week he was back at corner, shutting down Oregon’s receivers.

Williams’ best moments at Sun Devil Stadium

For Williams, his best moments at SDS were the same as center Cohl Cabral (who spoke on Tuesday with OC Rob Likens), and that included taking down ranked opponents.

“The games where the fans were so into it and rushing the field, like last week or the Washington game (Sophomore year),” Williams said. “That was very incredible having that experience.”

Williams and Cabral will both be apart of senior night festivities this Saturday against their foes from down south.