Q&A with Coach Paul Randolph

Devils Digest caught up with ASU's defensive coordinator Paul Randolph who gave his assessment of the defensive performance in last week's scrimmage.

Devils Digest: Coach, after watching the game film of the scrimmage how would you evaluate the defense and its performance?

Paul Randolph: "I thought that we started off fast defensively. We played well as far as our intensity, passion and enthusiasm. I thought we wore down a little bit towards the end. But the positives were our attitudes early on, which is exactly what you want as a defense. We were highly explosive and entertaining. We were making plays, and getting everybody excited about Sun Devil Defense. I thought our guys did a great job being explosive, making sacks and trying to make plays."

Devils Digest: Who are some of the players that stood out on film?

Paul Randolph: "Up front I thought Will Sutton had a really good scrimmage. Carl Bradford and Greg Smith also had really good scrimmages as far as making plays. Now, technique wise, they've all got to improve. We had too many missed opportunities, which is where we should've had takeaways and just didn't get them. I thought those guys did fairly well, and the secondary as a whole were lined up and making plays. Naturally, the linebackers were also very pleasing. Kipeli Koniseti had a big time scrimmage and made a lot of plays. I'm really excited about everyone!"

Devils Digest: It seems as if the running backs were able to gain a lot of yards on the ground, but the quarterbacks were harassed a lot too. Do you think that the defensive line played as well as you expected them to in the scrimmage?

Paul Randolph: "(Laughs) No, I expected us to play better. Everyday I expect us to play better and to stop the run. That's the number one thing the defensive line has to do for our defensive unit and for our team. There's no doubt that we can improve in that area. I thought we got a little bit better today than from the scrimmage. In order to improve in that area, the defense needs to be fundamentally and schematically sound. Your position fundamentals as a player also have to be sound. I think our guys looked a little better today which meant they improved from Saturday's scrimmage."

Devils Digest: This defense is predicated on the linebackers making a lot of plays. Did you feel that this group played well on Saturday?

Paul Randolph: "I absolutely thought the linebackers did. For us to be defensively successful, they all have to make a lot of plays. The defensive line up front has to be active and explosive. The linebackers have to be active and explosive. The safeties have to be active and explosive. Everyone needs to be an explosive blitzer and be able to bring pressure at any time."

Devils Digest: The defensive backs as a group were up and down giving up a few touchdown receptions but also breaking up some passes. What do you think about their performance?

Paul Randolph: "I thought they were steady but not overly wonderful. We missed a few opportunities. I thought there were a few plays that we left on the field. As far as their technique, they got a little bit better. As far as breaking on the football and being in the right areas, I thought they did a decent job. They made plays on the ball, pass break-ups and things of that nature. I thought they tackled better than they had so far in the spring, so I was pretty pleased with their performance."

Devils Digest: Coach Graham alluded to the fact that a first scrimmage will show a team that they have a long ways to go. Has the defense progressed as much as you expected them to after just two weeks of practice?

Paul Randolph: "To me, I think they have progressed more than I expected. I really do. I think the young men have really bought into the system. They are excited about our new attacking style of defense, attacking from all different angles and locations on the field. So I think with that excitement, the guys have been driven to really learn and know their assignments. I think they've done a tremendous job of trying to understand and pick up the system. As we practice each day they'll become more and more familiar with it and soon they'll know it like the back of their hand."

Devils Digest: What areas do you feel that the defense needs to improve on the most as spring practice progresses?

Paul Randolph: "Stopping the run. When we can stop the run and feel comfortable doing it, I'll feel extremely good. Right now we're making plays but we're also giving up plays. So, again I would say stopping the run, no doubt and making plays against the run."

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