Local Dynamic Duo Shines In Sun Devils' Secondary

Some say it was just a matter of time, when local true freshmen Jason Shivers and Lamar Baker were going to be starters in ASU's defensive backfield. Sure enough, two games into the season, they are both fulfilled that prediction. How have these two speedsters acclimated to the team and the 4-2-5 defensive scheme? Shivers and Baker answer these questions and more in this interview.

DevilsDigest: We're four games into the season, and you have started the last two. How comfortable are you with the team and the defense right now?

Jason Shivers: I'm feeling good, but I can improve a lot. There's a lot to learn, but the older guys are helping me out. I was told before the season started that I was gonna be second-string. I was happy I wasn't going to redshirt, but I also wanted to be the starter. I worked hard in practice, and it worked out well for me.

Lamar Baker: I'm doing OK. There are a lot of good things I'm doing, but I know I have a long ways to go. I knew that with a lot of new players at cornerback, that I would have a chance to play a lot. I'm happy I'm starting, but I know that I have to work hard to keep my starting position.

DD: Both of you guys were local high school stars, and a lot of your fellow true freshmen are local kids too. Did that make the transition from high school ball to college ball easier?

JS: Yeah, it does help. We are like a big family here. We know each other well from the high school days, and we always talk about the games where we played against each other I high school. We have fun at it, giving each other a hard time.

LB: It's fun playing with other Arizona high school players. That's why I chose ASU – to play in front of my family and friends, and also with other Arizona high buddies. It's kinda weird because I was covering Lightfoot in high school games, and now we're on the both team and I'm covering him in practice. It's pretty cool.

DD: Coach Guy said that learning the new 4-2-5 scheme may be easier for the young guys, because they don't have old habits to get rid off like the veterans. How easy has it been for you guys to learn the system?

JS: It's been hard. You have to put in a lot of time learning the system. It's way harder than anything I had to play in high school. Each week you learn more. The older guys like Daniel and Al Williams actually have been helping me out.

LB: The whole style of play is so different from high school, I don't if it would be easier for me to learn a 4-3-4 than a 4-2-5. It's still a big adjustment. We so young in cornerback, that we really don't have anybody to learn from. We just talk to the older guys at safety for advice. I think both the young and the old players are able to learn the new system the same way. All of us have to be on the same page to play well. We're doing OK, but we have to get better.

DD: Along with your fine play on defense, both of you are making some big plays on special teams (Baker was given a game ball for last week's game). Can you talk about that?

JS: Coach Osborne reminds us all the time how important special teams are. I have fun playing there, just like I do on defense. I love to hit, and hitting players on special teams is fun because you go full speed.

LB: A lot of folks don't think that special teams are important, but we know it is. I just want to make plays and help the team win. It doesn't matter to me if I'm making plays on defense or special teams.

DD: Lamar, you're filling in for R.J. Oliver who was suspended (no word yet which of the two will start). Now that he's eligible to come back, how do you feel about maybe giving up your starting spot?

LB: We have to see what happens. It's not up to me but the coaches. All I can do is work my butt off, and if that's enough for me to be the starter than it's all good.

DD: Jason, you closest friend on the team Joey Smith won't play this year because of academics. We hear coach Koetter always praising his play on the scout special teams. How is he doing?

JS: Joey's the man. It cool to have a close friend like him on the team. He makes me and others a better player. He's taking care of business in school, and he looks great every practice. I wish he could be playing with us this year. I can't wait until he plays with us next season. He'll make our team better.

DD: What are your thoughts about USC?

JS: I just know that we're gonna practice harder than ever this week. We know played well against our out of confrence teams, but we remember the loss to Stanford. USC is a great team. I don't care what their record is. We have to bring our "A" game on Saturday to win.

LB: Tough tough game. After playing Stanford we know how hard is it to play in the Pac-10. This is probably our toughest game this year. USC has great receivers, and we have to practice hard, stick to our assignments, and make no mistakes if we want to win.

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