Coming into the offseason, Arizona State clearly had depth among its defensive line. However, Sun Devil fans probably didn’t want that depth to be tested so early and in such a pivot spot. Jermayne Lole’s absence due to a likely season-ending triceps injury will be felt. Nevertheless, there’s enough talent to make this a really good unit.
Filling In for Lole
Who are the likely candidates to fill Lole’s void at the 3-tech spot? It’ll be a combination of Shannon Forman and Omar Norman-Lott. In all honesty, Arizona State is probably better equipped than most teams to handle the loss of a player of Lole’s caliber.
Forman has been in the Sun Devil program since 2017. He isn’t the splashiest or best player on the planet, but his experience will player a vital role for Norman-Lott. Forman will likely be the player that is considered the “starter,” but Norman-Lott will probably make more of the highlight plays. The former four-star recruit has had a very good camp and has a lot of unfair pressure on him. Even coach Herm Edwards has said how valuable Norman-Lott is to this season.
“He needs to play well for us. He really does.”
The Pass Rush
A player probably not talked enough is Tyler Johnson. When he is on the field, Johnson is very valuable and demonstrated that when he earned five sacks last season in the four games Arizona State played. The Sun Devil secondary won’t be asking for a ton of help from the edge, but the more pressure on the quarterback the more likely turnovers will come.
The other guy Arizona State is really relying on from the outside to get to the quarterback is Travez Moore. The LSU transfer never racked up the sack numbers in Baton Rouge, — even though sacks can be a poor barometer for production because of outside factors — he has the talent to do so.
The Rest of the Group
D.J. Davidson will start at the nose tackle and T.J. Pesefea Jr. will rotate in once again. Kansas State transfer Matthew Pola-Mao and camp standout BJ Green joined the team as walk-ons.
Michael Matus most likely will slot into a starting defensive end spot or at least have a large role. What does the rest of the group look like? Stanley Lambert finally looks ready to contribute after a handful of injuries and a position change. There’s a handful of youthful pass rushers in Joe Moore, Gharin Stansbury, Anthonie Cooper and Amiri Johnson, who have all come into the program as recruits the past few years.
There’s a lot of players in this group and the hope is that Norman-Lott, and potential one of the younger edge players, can put in a breakout year for the defense.
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