Onyeali and the rest of the Sun Devil's defense, use the pundits' pre-season comments as constant motivators to improve.
"I feel like our defense has something to prove every game," Onyeali claimed. "There are always going to be doubters and it's our job to make sure they are wrong."
Onyeali is especially satisfied with the fact that the ASU defense despite its three lopsided wins has been consistent with their effort and has not allowed a single point this season in the fourth quarter. The defensive lineman stated that the defense intends to keep it that way. Onyeali "We are taking pride in shutting out the opponent," Onyeali noted. "I didn't even know we had the streak until (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Randolph mentioned it before the Utah game. He was telling us that we need to take pride in that stat and make sure we finish stronger than we start every game. Now it's on us to keep the streak going."
The defensive lineman believes that the fast start the defense got off to against a solid Utah offense was a key factor in reestablishing the Sun Devils' confidence following the 24-20 loss to Missouri.
"I think it was very important to get off to a fast start, [as] we didn't play well against Missouri," Onyeali explained. "It was also very important because Utah is a good team. They just beat BYU and we knew we needed to come out and play hard to set the tone and gain momentum."
According to the junior one of the underlying factors in the defense's vast improvement has been the attitude change that Head Coach Todd Graham has created this year.
"I think our new discipline has definitely helped our defense," Onyeali remarked. "Everyone is focused on working hard and helping the team get better. We have been doing a great job of limiting the penalties during games as well. We are playing with the type of discipline and focus that Coach Graham expects of us."
Onyeali also believes that the new blue collar attitude of the defense has helped an already talented defensive line finally play up to its capabilities.
"I think we have always had a great defensive line," Onyeali said. "But we are finally playing to our potential this year. Everyone is on the line giving their max effort and you are seeing the results."
After being suspended for spring camp and all of summer, Junior Onyeali was at a bit of a disadvantage when it came to learning all the different types of defensive schemes. The lineman isn't making any excuses, but following one of his stronger performances of the year against Utah, in which he recorded a sack, he believes that he finally has a firm grasp on the defense.
"I feel like I'm finally getting a real feel for the defense," Onyeali commented, "[and] they are changing up some of the things that I am doing. I came in late, but I think that I have picked it up really fast. They are now freeing me up and allowing me to rush the passer, which I really like. This defensive scheme definitely allows me to be a playmaker."
Now the Sun Devils defense will look to pick up their first road win of the year this Saturday against California. Onyeali believes that the main goal for the defense is quite simple.
"We need to stop the run," he said. "Like every offense, if you can stop the run then you can go on the attack."