"That Washington game was a self-esteem booster" Elder said. "It just showed us what we are capable of, and we didn't even show all of what we are capable of, just a little taste. If we can just build off the Washington game then we have a chance to win out."
As this group begins to figure things out, Elder has seemed more comfortable as well. His play along with his fellow safeties helped secure a win against one of the better quarterbacks in all of college football, and the formula for growing success individually and as a group appears to be discipline and trust.
"Coach has been more strict, we've been more disciplined, everything plays a part," Elder pointed out. "Us trusting the front-seven to do their job to let us focus on our job and everything comes together.
"Me trusting my teammates and myself. If I second-guess myself, I'm a step behind and it shows. Football is a game of inches and you have to make that inch. "
With the bye week behind them the rested-up Sun Devils travel to Berkley to play Cal, a place they haven't won at since 1997. To make matters even more interesting, the Golden Bears have undefeated at home this year although they haven't quite been up to par on the road. All these facts tilt in Cal's favor, but according to Elder, Cal are a hard team to figure out.
"You don't know what Cal team you're going to get," Elder noted. "They pick and choose; obviously they're good at home, they are averaging about 50 points per game at home, away they are horrible, but we have them at home so we're expecting their best game."
As the season has progressed coach Craig Bray had used several different safety combos and appears to have a new one this week with Clint Floyd along side Max Tabach. Elder, who has started five of six games this year, isn't concerned about first or second team duties as much as whether or not the team wins, and so far the ASU experience has been a little less than he anticipated because of some disappointing losses.
"It's been kind of what I expected," Elder stated. "I expected more, but that's the past, we're heading to the future and you can't do anything about the past. If I don't start or if I do start, if my number gets called I'm going to perform the best that I can."
This week several NFL defensive players were heavily fined by the league for helmet-to-helmet hits that the league has ruled excessive. Moving forward all helmet-to-helmet hits will be reviewed and players may begin to be suspended. As a safety and competent hitter, Elder knows that sometimes these types of hits are unavoidable and is disgusted the league is coming to this.
"It is a waste of time," Elder empathically said. "This is football; this is not soccer, tennis. You're taking away the bump and run coverage after five yards, now we can't hit people how we're taught to hit, what's next? Giving everything to the offense, I don't like that at all."