Hill Sees Peak Performance on Defensive Line

The interception defensive tackle Jordan Hill had against Colorado last night, was his first and by his own admission probably the only pick he will ever have. What isn't however an aberration is the way the senior and his line mates have been playing in 2006.

"We've got a lot more guys, more depth and we're fresher," said Jordan Hill. "Guys are coming in and making plays, no matter if they're a starter or third string. When guys get in there and have opportunities to make plays, they're making plays. The more guys we have in there, the better we can get and the further we can go. Having our depth helps us be more fresh and consistent."

Does Hill actually feel less tired after a game because of that linemen rotation? "I'm not gonna lie – anytime after a game you feel beat up and tired," he admitted. "But it does make a difference. You feel better going into next week because you didn't play 70, 80 snaps. You feel fresher and the recovery is much better."

The defensive tackle doesn't attribute his takeaway to freshness, but rather game preparation. "We do practice that blitz we had on when I got the interception," he explained. "We're supposed to get in there, pop out and read the quarterback's eyes. I kind had a feel that they were running screens on us, so I just tried to drop in coverage and as soon as that ball was released it seemed kind of slow, and as soon as I caught the ball I'm sure it seemed even a lot slower (smile)." Hill added that defensive line coach Grady Stretz does conduct ball drills where defensive linemen such as Hill actually go back in coverage and catch the ball, which makes it feel "natural" to him to actually do so in a game.

Going into the Colorado contest, it was no secret that the Buffaloes were an offense hard pressed finding any measure of success. Hill however, had a more flattering view on the opponent. "We knew they would come out and be physical. This was a difficult game for them and their season and this meant a lot to them, being that it was Pac-10 vs. Big 12," he stated. "They got a few of those counters on us, and we kind of had a though time with that, but overall defensively I thought we played really solid."

"A lot of the times it was stuff that we saw on film," Hill continued. "They have a great team and they had some drives where you absolutely saw them ram the ball down people's throats, and they did that tonight some of the time. They played a tough game and they had some things going there in the second quarter and second half. They have a good team and I feel that they'll do pretty good this year." Hill added he did see some similar tendencies in the Colorado Offense as he does in the ASU offense, due to the fact that the Buffaloes head coach Dan Hawkins and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich both coached under ASU head coach Dirk Koetter.

What made the victory over Colorado that much sweeter, was the fact that unlike years past, the Sun Devil defense carried the offense to victory. "I know coming into the year we took a lot on our shoulders," said Hill about the Arizona State defense. "We knew our offense would go out and do their job, coming off being ranked number two in the nation. We were obviously ranked at the bottom of the barrel, and we took it personal."

"When we started fall camp, we said that we're gonna win some games this year when our offense struggles," Hill continued. "When they put us in a tough situation…things happen, and we need to go out and to stop the other team's offense. We know when our offense gets the ball they'll do good things. When they have a down night, we should be able to carry them a little bit."

A 3-0 record definitely achieves some of the team's goals, but on Saturday the schedule gets considerably tougher as loftier accomplishments are now on the line. Thus, complacency is a term that certainly doesn't describe the locker room mood of the maroon and gold. "When we go back and watch that film they'll be ton of mistakes," said Hill. "In the first half they got some plays off our mistakes and mental errors. We have to clean those up going into Pac-10 play. We have to be a lot more focused and have a good week of practice as we go into it."

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