Darby pleased with results of culture change

After experiencing two seasons on an ASU defense that showed a lot of promise, but lacked the consistency needed to take the team to the next level, Alden Darby knew it was time for a change. When Todd Graham was hired and mentioned that team discipline would be a top priority, the junior safety had a feeling that this was the type of transformation needed to make this defense an elite group.

"You can see from the sidelines to the practice field that he (Coach Graham) expects us to carry ourselves on and off the field in a certain way," Darby said. "We don't talk on the field, and our defense hasn't committed a penalty on defense yet. He wanted discipline and we are trying to play how we are coached.

"The physical aspect and the work ethic of this team have been great. We are practicing hard and it's carrying over into the games."

Darby is very proud of the defense not committing a penalty in the team's first two games and believes it symbolizes how much the team has bought into Coach Graham's philosophy.

"It's a huge accomplishment," Darby commented. "Everyone saw how we played last year. We had penalties and all types of things happening on the field. This year for us to not have a penalty yet is huge and it means a lot to us. That's our goal, so we get excited and mark it down as a stat."

Yet the safety isn't satisfied with his team's performance so far and believes that there are areas for the Sun Devils, as well as himself, to improve upon.

"So far if I would have to grade us, I would give us a B," Darby noted. "We are executing and playing physical, but we have had too many mental errors. We have also turned the ball over three times, which might not seem like a lot but it's not good for this team."

"For myself, I have been doing some things well, but I know I am capable of playing a lot better. I had a few missed tackles last game and some mental mistakes so I need to clean these things up."

Despite many new faces in the secondary, due to injuries and position changes, Darby isn't surprised with his group's fast start and feels that it simply manifests their hard labor.

"No, not at all." Darby claimed. "The success that we are having right now is a reflection of all the hard work that we put in during the Spring and the Summer. I knew this would happen, we worked too hard for the success not come, so I'm not shocked at all."

After playing two games in Defensive Coordinator Paul Randolph's new defense, Alden Darby is even more confident now that the scheme will allow him to play to his strengths.

"I definitely feel like this defense suits me," Darby explained. "I felt strongly about it in spring, and I still felt that strongly about it when I came into Fall Camp. Now after actually putting the scheme to work I really know that it fits my style of play and I love it."

Now that Darby is an upperclassman, he feels that it is important to him to take the next step as a player and as a leader.

"Most definitely I need to improve this year," Darby said, "as this is a big year for me on and off the field. As a Junior I need to improve and do my job and try to become a better player in all areas of the game.

"I just want to do whatever it takes for this team to win this year. If I end up getting interceptions that's great, but I am going to go all out and help this team win."

Alden believes that the team's fast start will do nothing but add to the faith that they have in the new style of play Coach Graham has implemented.

"It gives us a lot of confidence winning the first two games like we did," Darby remarked. "It showed us a lot about Coach Graham's offensive and defensive schemes that he brought with him. It gives us a lot of confidence in him and his coaching style."

As the Sun Devils' first road game of the year, as well as their toughest contest to date looms large this weekend, Darby believes that the keys for the ASU defense to contain Missouri are quite simple.

"We can't make mental mistakes," Darby said. "We need to run to the ball and we need to give great effort. If we can do those things we will have success this Saturday."

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