Carr providing leadership for the secondary

For the ASU football team, the stage has been set. The second ranked Oregon Ducks visit Tempe this Thursday for a battle between two nationally ranked teams with serious conference implications. For Scottsdale native and senior Deveron Carr, it's the kind of moment he's been waiting four years to experience and the perfect opportunity for he and his defensive teammates to make a loud statement.

After routing the University of Colorado last Thursday night, Arizona State approached the midway point of its 2012 season in a position very few Sun Devil fans could have expected; alone atop the South division (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) with hopes of competing for a conference championship in the season's second half.

A large reason for the Sun Devils' early season success has been the relentless play of its defense, primarily that of the secondary. Armed with the fifth best passing defense in the country, the Sun Devils have been yielding just 144 yards per game in the air, minimizing their opponents' big play potential with their own suffocating attack.

For Carr, a two year starter now at corner back, the success has come not only as a product of the team's more disciplined approach, but also due to the special bond he and his secondary teammates have developed over the years.

"We're just coming together and we're like a family back there," Carr said after practice on Sunday. "The whole defense, really, is like a family. I feel like we've been communicating with each other a lot more than in my first few years here. Me and Keelan are on the same page. (Alden) Darby and Keelan (Johnson) are on the same page. Osahon (Irabor) and Darby are on the same page. And not only do we work together, but we do a lot of other things together. We go out to lunch together and part of our success is having that discipline with each other, that confidence in each other.

"The front seven is getting lots of pressure on (the opposition) and that plays a huge part in our success also. The whole eleven plays a huge part in our success as a team defense."

Once mired in a position battle for the starting corner spot, Carr has since secured that role while becoming a cornerstone for the Sun Devil secondary. So far this year he has registered seven tackles while helping pace an ASU defense that has nine interceptions, which ranks 18th in country through six games.

"I've just been coming out here with a purpose every day" Carr commented. "Not just for the games because everybody comes to the game with a purpose but the hardest part is coming to practice with a purpose. Just working on the little things, trying to get better. Whether it's gathering in my press or shooting with my hand. Maybe it's catching an interception or just batting balls down. Maybe it's backpedalling or just shuffling; just working on all the little things to get better every single day and watching film and becoming more disciplined and smarter.

"It's kind of like just being uncomfortable every day, doing things I'm not used to. Do the things I don't want to do. Work on the things I don't want to work on. I feel like that's what's holding us down as a defense. Not just me, but I feel like every person on this defense does that. I feel like that's what is going to make us great. We'll always get better as long as we continue to think that we can get better."

Through their first six games, ASU's defense has been stout, giving up an average of 14.2 points per game, good enough for ninth best in the country. In Oregon though, they'll receive their biggest test of the year as the Ducks continue to feature one of the nation's most premiere offensive attacks, averaging 52.3 points per game.

"Basically, it comes down to preparation and being smart," said Carr. "Being able to understand what they're doing by their formations and sets and just knowing what the outcome is when they line up. And most definitely we've got to be conditioned to play at their speed, to match their tempo.

Thursday's showdown provides the Sun Devils an opportunity to secure the program's biggest win since Jake Plummer led Arizona State to its improbable win over top ranked Nebraska in 1996 on their way to the Rose Bowl. While there still remains a lot of football to be played in 2012, Carr acknowledges that he's aware of what's at stake while maintaining that it's important for his team to stay humble and grounded.

"I'm not going to lie, it means a lot to us," Carr said. "But at the same time, we have to make it seem like it means nothing because if it means too much I feel like a lot of people will get big-headed and not necessarily not want to work, but naturally start to slack off. They may think 'I don't need to do this,' or 'I don't need to work on that,' but in reality, you have to work every single day.

"Guys who think they're great don't work every single day; they let the athleticism take over. But I think hard work beats talent every day."

As unlikely as the season has been for Arizona State so far, one needn't look far for a reason to tread carefully. It was just last year that these same Sun Devils jumped out to a 6-2 start before falling flat, losing their last 5 games of the season. As one of the leaders on this team, Carr vows not to let history repeat itself in Tempe, stressing the importance of remaining focused and taking it one week at a time.

"We've just got to continue to work hard," Carr noted. "Just do the things you didn't do last year. Continue to work on the things you stopped working on. Change the mind set you had last year. You thought you came in here at 6-2 and it was all good, but you lost the rest of the games and it didn't mean anything in the end.

"So as of right now, all the games that we've won don't mean anything. All that matters is what we do this week. And that's how we'll take every week." With one half season left in his college career, Carr gets set to leave a lasting impression at Arizona State. Beginning with his journey from Scottsdale Chaparral High School, whether it's been injury or adversity, Carr has embodied the true Sun Devil spirit throughout his time in Tempe and says it's been one experience he wouldn't trade for anything.

"It's been the experience of a lifetime," he reflected. "If I could do it all over again, I'd do it the same. I don't rank on the program here or rank on the school just because we've lacked success since I've been here. It's a nice program. It was nice to be coached by Coach Erickson. It's great to be coach by Todd Graham as well. I feel like I'm getting better every day and I'm having fun.

"I love to be in Arizona. My family is having fun. My friends have been congratulating me. I have a lot of support, which means a great deal to me. I have a daughter; she's around, she's talking, she wants to talk about football. She'll be four soon so it means a lot to me.

"Like I said, I love Arizona State. Whether we lacked success in the past or not, I still love Arizona State."

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