Vasquez Settling Into Starting Role

A dire need for good pass rushing defensive ends, along with impressive junior college stats, had the Sun Devils pursuing and ultimately landing Luis Vasquez. The Arizona Western JC product had always believed he could be a starter, and since the end of spring practice he has captured that role. On a day where the defense flexed its muscles, Vasquez's presence in the scrimmage was hard to ignore.

"The defense played really well today," said Luis Vasquez. "We came out up-tempo, upbeat, made some plays early and we carried it out all throughout the scrimmage. When we were watching film, we got chewed out a lot the last couple of days – just mental mistakes. Today we came out and cleared everything up and we're on the top of our game."

Even though he was the undisputed starter at one defensive end when spring practice culminated, the mid-year transfer's performance at the beginning of the spring wasn't promising by any stretch. "Coming into D-I, I didn't want to step on anyone's toes, he recalled. "I kind of reserved myself; let people say what they want. I felt that I had to show my talent, make everyone know that I'm here for real."

"Coming into the summer workouts, my mentality was ‘get better. Do whatever it takes to get better.' Me and ‘House' (Strength Coach Joe Kenn) got after it in the weight room, as well as the rest of the team and I just came out of there into the fall, and I think I've had a pretty good fall and I can only get better."

In today's scrimmage the defensive line's quarterback pressure appeared to come in waves and from different directions, which naturally made life miserable for the ASU offense on Saturday. "It's all starts with the D-Line on defense," he explained. "We set the line, get pressure on the quarterback, make the running backs bounce and that makes it easier on the linebackers and defensive backs. Fortunately for us we were able to carry that out the rest of the scrimmage."

Lack of depth at defensive end, certainly doesn't threaten Vasquez's starting position, but it also doesn't lead him to feel complacent. "With this staff you never sure when you're gonna be dropped, when you're gonna be up," he commented. "You just have to get after it every practice. Right now we can't let up. We got a couple of defensive ends like James Brooks looking real well – a little raw but a lot of talent. Once he gets to get in low, fire off, and get his feet underneath him – he'll be a heck of a player. I feel that the defensive line is real talented and we have a lot of speed on the corners."

Vasquez admitted that the shotgun formations the defense is faced with often times can make it difficult for defensive ends to apply pressure on the quarterback. "Offensive tackles already know that's they're gonna have a five-step drop. They're already preset in pass blocking. It's a little more difficult but I like the challenge."

Various remarks by the coaching staff have stated that the defense as a whole is a concern, and perhaps compared to the offense has much more improvement to undergo. This could have lead to the perception that some out there may be underestimating what the ASU defense will be able to accomplish this season. "We have talent, but we haven't shown our full potential yet," said Vasquez. "Once the season starts, and we get a couple of wins under our belt, a little more swagger, we're gonna open a lot more eyes."

And Luis Vasquez seems to be leading that charge in that department…

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