Hill and D-Line Focuses on Stopping the Run

Coming in to the 2005 season, many questions surrounded the ASU defensive line and its prospects for this year's campaign. With the lion share of conference play behind them, the front four is still under scrutiny, especially in regards to its rushing defense capabilities. Jordan Hill, the defensive line's leader, acknowledges that problem and is committed with his teammates to tackle it head first.

"That's been one of the things we have struggled with," Jordan Hill admitted. "We have to focus on getting better at that every game. Just like any other facet of your life, you have to attack the weakness, overcome it, and turn into a strength. We're focused this week on preparing for (Jerome) Harrison - he's a great back, and we have to do a good job against him and correct our mistakes."

It's hard for the junior to put his finger on a couple of specific reasons for his group's performance, but he does notice a recurring theme. "It's a collection of things," he said. "When we watch film, we're beating ourselves, getting out of gaps…things we have control over. We have to focus on the fundamentals and getting the little things right."

Improvement naturally starts in the days leading up to the game, and Hill, who's also a team captain, has been encouraged with what he has seen this week, as well as his team's psyche. "We had a lot more energy," he commented. "After a win we got out feet back on the ground, and we have some confidence. Now we're back on the road to how we know how to play. Hopefully that's the road to victory."

A strong finish will guarantee the maroon and gold post-season play. True to his position as a team leader, the defensive lineman chooses to focus on the immediate future, rather than looking ahead. "Personally, I take each week as it comes," Hill remarked. "All that other stuff, we don't have control over. We just have to worry about the things we have control over and that's each game and our preparation each week. Once we qualify for a bowl, all that stuff will fall into place. The other two years when we went to good bowl games, our record in the Pac-10 was 5-3." Which in other words, implies that Hill believes that the Sun Devils will win out the season and once again achieve that exact record.

Granted, the pre-season expectations had ASU pegged into a higher tier bowl than what they will end up at. Nevertheless, for Hill, just getting to a bowl game is an achievement. "Anytime you get to a bowl game it's a success," he explained. "Our bowl won't be what we set to be in the beginning of the year. But you know what? Only two teams will go to that game. We just have to continue and regroup and make the most of our opportunities we have. As a competitor, anytime you have a chance to get on the field you make the most out if it. We have a chance to got to a bowl game, salvage this season, and make it a success."

With his wife Megan expecting the couple's first child later this month, 2005 will already be a successful year in the Hill household. Winning out and playing in the post-season would be the icing on the cake for the junior defensive end.

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