Irabor drawing on experience

Another day, another solid practice for Osahon Irabor. That is what transpired during Thursday's spring session for the junior cornerback and it's a monotony that is gladly accepted on a Sun Devil defense that is lacking experience at some of its positions.

"Irabor is a guy that keeps sticking out to me," said Head Coach Todd Graham earlier in the week.

"Coach Graham is really taking it upon himself to work with me a lot," Irabor said. "He think I can be something special. I'm trying to hone all my skills and really soak up everything he's telling me and I'm just trying to work harder than I have ever worked.

"We're definitely doing it this spring. I never felt this much in shape during spring. So I'm really buying in to what he's talking about."

When Osahon Irabor arrived at Arizona State in 2009, he quickly made a strong impression in fall practice. Unfortunately for the cornerback, he injured his wrist after just a few sessions and was forced to redshirt a season that he was more than likely to see action in.

In 2010 Irabor was an integral part of the defense starting the last seven games and playing in all 12 contests as he collected 40 total tackles including 3.5 stops for a loss. As a sophomore he was fully entrenched starting all 13 games posting 48 total tackles and six pass breakups.

Coming into this season, the cornerback knows that the level of expectations he will command will be in close relation to his recent performance, and that is something that he won't allow to burden him.

"I'm going to be a junior and experience and preparation leads to confidence," Irabor explained. "I've been doing this for three years, I kind of know the ins and outs. Preparation and practice is what makes confidence. That all goes together."

When Irabor talks about experience, he also alludes to learning from a 2012 campaign that was painful to say the least as the Sun Devils ended the season with a five-game losing streak. The cornerback stated that he and his teammates could not handle prosperity that was brought upon them to be begin the season which led to the well documented downfall.

"6-2 and you think you're going in a good direction and then guys start slipping on their fundamentals and think we have arrived," Irabor recalled, "and you never really arrived. We kind if fell apart in the end. As being one of the leaders for next year we can never let that happen again.

"You have to let the guys know that the work is never done. You have to focus one play at a time, one game at a time, always watch film and lead by example."

And Thursday's session was a perfect example of that mantra. The offense was having its way in the beginning of the scrimmage scoring on four of its five first possessions, but then the defense prevented a touchdown in the last four series.

"Defense came out a little flat in the beginning," Irabor said. "We had to be punched in the mouth before we got it together. You saw how we finished, we finished really strong. That's something the defensive coaches really appreciated.

"When you get kicked down, it's all about how you get back up, so we got back up and came together back in the end and that is a good sign. We're just trying to take the positives out of today."

Aggressiveness is a theme that applies to both sides of the ball under this new coaching staff. Irabor is still amazed by the pace the offense is displaying ("You have to come and watch it live to truly understand how fast we're going."), but at the same time feels that the increased press and bump coverages the secondary is applying will reap its benefits not only against their teammates on the other side of the ball, but also in the upcoming season.

"It pumps us up because we are switching coverages so much and doing a lot of different things, things that as a defensive back you really appreciate," Irabor commented. "Things that will work for well for us and cater to everyone's talents and skills. All of us are playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Whether it's an adjustment to new schemes or the attitude the coaching staff is trying to instill, Irabor feels that the team is understanding better than ever what is expected from them on all levels from this staff.

"I think are definitely done with the culture shock," Irabor claimed. "We love Coach Graham and we are all in just working to get better everyday. If you get better everyday everything else will take care of itself."


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