ASU Co-Defensive Coordinator Marvin Lewis spoke to media Friday, discussing the progression of the defense as a whole just two weeks away from kickoff.
One of the defense’s most solid position group heading into the season is the experienced linebackers. Lewis talked about his trio of junior LB’s and how they are gelling as a unit.
“No question, last year with (former ASU linebacker) Khaylan (Kearse-Thomas) in that mix and so forth. But I think all in all, they’re very comfortable together and they’ve done a nice job of communicating,” Lewis said of Darien Butler, Merlin Robertson and Kyle Soelle. “Their leadership and their ability to play physical has been impressive, and I think that’s the thing I’m kind of looking forward to as we play this season with those guys and their opportunity to continue to progress as far as the communication process of your defense.”
The secondary should be another bright spot for the Sun Devils. Lewis highlighted safety DeAndre Pierce as a player to watch.
“DeAndre has — because as you mentioned, the experience that he has of having played at Boise (State), even though maybe over the last couple seasons he’s been more injured than playing,” he said. “But he does have the experience of it, and it gives him a confidence, a calmness, which I think kind of he’s able to help settle down the entire group. So I’m glad we have him and his opportunity to fit in with the rest of the defensive players and he’ll have a role here for us this fall.”
Moving up front, Lewis talked about the defensive line group, which is looking to prove itself as a strong asset in 2020.
“I think as a whole, our guys have been working very, very hard. We’re pleased with the progress that they’ve made,” Lewis said. “It’s been such an interesting time, but since we’ve had the opportunity to play football in pads, it’s (the d-Line) continued to work hard at techniques and the things we’re asking them to do. And the proof will be when you get to go play against an opponent.”
Staying on the d-line, Lewis assessed the progress of Jermayne Lole.
“Well, I think Jermayne last year showed that he has the ability to go out and make productive football plays in a game. And I don’t know that he was sure of that as much until last year, he got the opportunity to do that,” Lewis said. “So now, I think he comes into a new season with an opportunity with that kind of confidence. And so it’s exciting for him. He’s had to work his way back as far as being away when the guys were out of the building. And those bigger guys, they have to work and get themselves back into shape and condition. We’ve been pleased with what he’s been able to do with that as well.”
Players like Lole, Pierce and the Linebackers will be tested early when ASU faces a potent USC offense to begin the campaign on November 7th.