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April 23, 2011
Defense gets wake up call
Based on the previous three scrimmages this year it was safe to assume Arizona State's defense would bring its typical trash-talking swagger on the field for Saturday's Spring Game.
Caught off guard on the first play -- junior wide receiver Jamal Miles throwing to wide open senior wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad for 44 yards following a lateral -- the defense didn't say much throughout the game.
"I mean [a score of 83-27], yeah really disappointed but we can't let that happen," senior defensive tackle Bo Moos said. "It's kind of like a mimic of the Cal game last year. It's the same type of thing. We just weren't ready to play."
After being hit in the jaw early the defense couldn't recover, allowing three straight offensive touchdowns to start the game. Unlike in the previous two scrimmages, the defense did not incorporate blitzing packages, opting to play out of a base 4-3 defense.
It's unclear how much that contributed to it yielding 601 total yards, including an eye-opening 446 yards passing, but the first team defense struggled stopping sophomore quarterback Brock Osweiler, who failed to complete only five out of his 22 attempts on the day.
"[The offense] kind of hand our number today, but I mean we weren't able to blitz or do anything like that but it's not an excuse," senior linebacker Shelly Lyons said. "They played well. Defensively, we kind of didn't have our best day but it was good to see the offense do good the way they did today. At the end of the day, you can't be mad because it's our offense."
There were a few bright spots during the game, including sophomore linebacker Anthony Jones's 27-yard interception return for a touchdown off redshirt freshman Taylor Kelly, but the defense failed to execute the fundamentals.
As much time the defense spent fine-tuning the basics of football this spring, there were a number of plays that had multiple missed tackles leading to big gains in situations that could've led to a loss of yardage. A lack of communication was also evident from a defense that gave up seven offensive touchdowns Saturday.
"Film, film, film and film," Jones said, when asked how the group can reboud. "That's all we can do right now. We don't have any more practices so the film room will be important."
Despite the poor performance, it was an outlier from the defense's effort all spring spring, which saw the offense score five offensive touchdowns in the past three scrimmages combined.
ASU head coach Dennis Erickson complimented the overall improvement of the team Thursday and the players aren't allowing one day diminish the progress made over the past five weeks.
"I love where we're at," Moos said. "This is obviously a disappointing Spring Game but if you look at our spring as a whole, I think we played really well. Yeah, I'm really excited about where we're at and where we're heading."
"It's always the little things man," sophomore cornerback Osahon Irabor said. "That's what being a good football team is about is correcting the small mistakes and that's one thing we've got to learn to do as we get ready for fall."