Smith Relishes in New Aggressive Scheme

No one will deny that the 2006 Sun Devil defense displayed much improvement over the 2005 campaign. Leaping from 114th to 51st in the nation speaks for itself. Yet, the ASU coaches aren't content with that feat, challenging the players to better that mark. David Smith loves that attitude which has quickly manifested itself in the spring. We caught up with the junior following Thursday's practice.

ASU's third spring practice was the first one in full pads, and the difference over the first two sessions wasn't hard for David Smith to detect. "Today was real intense, everybody was flying all around the place," he said. "There was a lot of hitting today, but it was fun…the field wasn't too bad (following heavy rains earlier in the day). Maybe a few guys were slipping, but nothing serious." He added that he expects the hitting to kick up a notch on Saturday, when there will be more live plays than Thursday's session.

The intensity the junior speaks of is really nothing more than an extension of the new scheme the defensive staff is trying to install these days. "We're not reading (offenses) as much as we did last year," Smith explained. "We're rushing up field, raking havoc and really attacking. We're not sitting back - we're making stuff happen. We're gonna be a lot more aggressive this year. Our linebackers will be running down the field a lot more, making it harder to run on us. Our run defense looks really good right now."

In 2006 as a defensive tackle reserve, David Smith collected 14 stops and was heavily involved in the constant rotation that his position was employing. These days, it hopes it all pays dividends. "Last year I got a lot of snaps and played well," he recalled. "That experience will really help me this year. You can only get better when you have game experience and I got a lot of that last year."

As an upper classman, and really the most experienced defensive tackle on the squad along with Michael Marquardt, Smith realizes the responsibility of showing the ropes to the ‘greener' players that make up the depth chart at his position. Nonetheless, he's isn't resting on his laurels and knows that he has to constantly prove himself if he wants to be the starter this year.

"Maybe we don't have that much experience, but we have a lot of talent," he noted. "We're three-deep right now, and that depth chart can change at any time. We're all fighting for our positions."

That last notion is even truer, considering the fact that ASU now has a new defensive coordinator. "With all the new coaches, everybody is starting with a clean slate trying to prove themselves," stated Smith. "We're all flying around, playing hard and showing the coaches what we've got. Even though (defensive line) Coach Stretz stayed from last year and knows all of us, I can tell that he's demanding more from us than last season and we're practicing much harder. So just because you played well last year, doesn't mean you'll still be a starter – you gotta earn it. He's not an easy coach and we're working here everyday busting our butt. That's OK, because he wants us to be the best defensive linemen in the Pac-10."

Smith's main goal at the end of spring practice is to improve his technique, and again come off as a more assertive player. "I just want to be more aggressive, get off the blocks better, become a better pass rusher," he said as he described his wish list. "The Pac-10 is no joke and if you want to play your motor has to run the whole time and you have to be out there making plays on every down. "

With a new proactive attitude on the defensive line, it shouldn't be hard for Smith to meet his objectives and perhaps secure the starting defensive tackle role in the fall.

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