Q&A with Paul Randolph

Coming off their third consecutive loss, the Sun Devils got back to work on Tuesday as the team looks to break their losing streak against the Trojans in Los Angeles this weekend. Devils Digest caught up with ASU defensive coordinator Paul Randolph after practice to discuss this weekend's match up amongst other topics.

On the overall play of the defense last Saturday in the team's 36-26 loss to Oregon State:

Randolph: "Well we started out good. We had the takeaway and the touchdown. We were fired up which is what you need when you're on the road. And then we just lacked in our communicating and getting aligned and doing our assignments there a little bit. And those are the things that'll hurt you when you're playing an explosive team with playmakers."

On the play of defensive tackle Will Sutton, who returned to the line-up after missing nearly all of the last two weeks with a knee injury:

Randolph: "I thought it was phenomenal, I really did. For him to get out and play, I think 55 snaps, coming off the injury that he had and to be a playmaker and not miss a beat. For me, that was just a testament of his desire to get out there and help the Sun Devils win.

"For Will, we look at him as a catalyst for our defense. He and Alden Darby are energy guys, playmaking guys. They keep the entire defense on edge. So naturally, getting him back, you could see the excitement and the explosiveness that Will has up front and our guys feed off of it."

On what it'll take to limit the number of big plays that the ASU defense has given up in recent weeks, including touchdowns of 49, 50 and 53 yards against Oregon State last weekend:

Randolph: "Getting lined up, communicating and getting the calls and then, naturally, tackling. Most big plays, as every coach knows, result in missed assignment or missed tackles. Those are the things that we've got to clean up in order to eliminate the big plays against us."

On the focus of practice this week as the team looks to snap its three game losing streak:

Randolph: "I just think that we need to get back, coaches included, to finding our focus on the details. Us as coaches, we have to do it. The players, I thought, did a really good job of it today. It's about getting back to seeing the ball, getting to the ball and getting off on the football up front. We talk about our eyes, feet and hands as what fundamentals come down to, and then go tackle the football. Those are just the things that we have to out an emphasis on and that we have to pay a lot of attention to detail."

On the mindset of the Sun Devils heading into matchup with USC after three consecutive defeats:

Randolph: "Our guys' mindsets are to get better at fundamentals, it really is. We felt, after looking at film, that we must improve in the minor details of our fundamentals. Today, that's what we went back to. The guys had unbelievable focus, attitude and approach to how we worked today. I think their mindset is outstanding and we're pressing forward, pressing for our next Pac-12 win.

"It's a testament to our guys. They've worked their tails off all year. We've hit a little bit of a lull there in the W's but our guys have been working and for them just to refocus, recommit and re-up on the way we do things at this stage of the year is really a testament to them and their growth in the belief system of our program. We're really excited about the guys and the way they worked today."

On the play making abilities of the USC offense:

Randolph: "They are an extremely explosive team, but we've faced that the last three weeks. They're exactly like them. They're highly explosive and we'll just have to work our tails off to eliminate the amount of big plays that we're giving up. When you've got Matt Barkley and the two receivers and then you add Silas Redd to it back there carrying the football, you've got a really stout group of explosive football players that can do big things with the ball. So we've just got to control that and keep that down to a minimum."

On matching up against a pro-style offense for a second consecutive week:

Randolph: "Most times, a pro-style offense presents challenges because they're normally bigger. They're normally tightened down with just the nature of their alignments, which makes it different. I wouldn't say it makes it harder, just different. It makes it different in how you attack it. But they have the same tendencies, breakdowns and things of that nature. But they're going to do what they like to do, which is what we like.

"They're going to run a pro-style and you know what they're going to do when they line up and they're good enough to do it. For us, the challenge will be getting lined up, getting off on that football and seeing if we can pressure and impact the run and the quarterback."

On USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley:

Randolph: "He's a quarterback that can make every throw. He can put the ball anywhere you what it; how high you want it and when you want it. As a passer, he brings a certain level of play to each game. As a leader, he brings another level of play to their team. There's no doubt that he's got some weapons around him and he understands what to do with the football, and that's get it to those weapons. He's a really solid field general and when he's throwing that ball and spinning it like he does, they play extremely well."

On the challenges of playing against the Trojan wide receiver duo of Robert Woods and Marquis Lee:

Randolph: "The challenge is that they are really good football players. They're big, they're fast and they're explosive. So naturally, all those elements lends towards being a challenge at any position when your opponent is like that. For us, we've got to do what we do. We're going to challenge them up front, defensively. We're going to attack. Our corners have done a whale of a job all year long. I'm really excited about our secondary because all year they've done a really nice job of controlling the pass and I expect them to do the same thing this week. They just need to keep everything in front of them."

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