Q&A with Coach Paul Randolph

Following a week and a half of practicing during their bye, the Arizona State Sun Devils look to win their second consecutive game on the road this season as they prepare to play against Colorado. Defensive Coordinator Paul Randolph talked with Devils Digest about the keys to defenses success, as well as the performance of some of his players in the first half of the season.

How big of a confidence boost was it for the defense to play so well on the road against Cal?

"I think it was a great win, it was a great win for the entire team. Our offense battled the entire game. Our defense showed great poise and battled the entire game as well. Any time you can go into anyone's house and get a win, that's huge. It's tough to win on the road in college football. It was great for everyone's confidence and great for defense to realize that we can play at the same level of intensity on the road."

With a week and half to prepare for Colorado, how much were you able game plan for the Buffaloes on Thursday?

"Having a week and half to prepare for a team is always a plus. It's not only about preparing for the team, but also focusing on getting better fundamentally as a team. We have to assess were we are going and make the corrections to the mistakes that made in the past 5 games. Coming off a bye we need to make sure that all of our fundamentals are sharp for Thursday."

What was the thought process in moving James Morrison and J.J. Holliday to play on the defense?

"Well when you look at James [Morrison], he looks a lot like Junior Onyeali. He is very compact and incredibly strong. We expect him to provide speed rushing off the edge. We wanted to give him a shot and see what he could do. So far he has shown great potential and he will have the opportunity to help us in the near future. With JJ Holliday we wanted to add speed to the defense, we were really excited with his willingness to play defense and help us out in the secondary."

Can you talk about the improvement Junior Onyeali has shown over the past three games?

"I think Junior understands our defense better and better. He is studying the defense every day and is gaining a true understanding of his role. That has allowed him to learn where fits in our defense and where he needs to be on the field. We knew he could pass rush, we just had to create the opportunity where he could pin his ears back and go after the quarterback. He also has an incredible work ethic, each day he works extremely hard and pushes himself. Its spark for everyone else on the team, for them to see the way he works is great. It was just a matter of time before the results started to come based on the way he prepares for each game."

Do you feel like the pass rush is becoming one of the core strengths of the defense?

"I think our guys upfront enjoy pass rushing. That's there dessert for working hard during the game. They work hard to put the other team in a passing situation so that we are able to rush the quarterback. They put the work in on 1st and 2nd down, so that they can pin their ears back on 3rd down. I feel like our players know where there roles are during pass rush situations, so that we aren't missing sacks and are containing the quarterback. If we rush the quarterback effectively as a unit someone will have the opportunity to make a play. All of our players are unselfish and get excited when another teammate gets a sack."

What is the biggest improvement you would like to see from your defense in the second half of the season?

"We need to continue to communicate and improve on our tackling. We need to keep the same great passion and intensity that we are playing with now."

What is the key for the defense to have success against Colorado?

"We just need to play with passion and we need to be disciplined. We need to match their intensity early on in the game, and we need to make sure not to commit any mental mistakes."

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