Davis Leads Upstart Sun Devil Pass Rush

PALO ALTO, Calif. - As well as the ASU defense has been playing this year, a common gripe by Sun Devil coaches and fans alike, was the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite the fact that the maroon and gold played arguably the worst Pac-10 team last weekend, it's hard not to be impressed by the play of Dexter Davis and other defenders who combined for seven sacks against Stanford.

It goes without saying that Dexter Davis and the other Arizona State defensive ends had a hand in the superb road game effort that limited Stanford to -2 yards rushing on the night. Nonetheless, it was more rewarding for that group to contribute to the lion share of the team's season-high seven sacks, which ranks them currently third in the conference.

Davis busted on the scene as a redshirt freshman recoding a team-high in 2006 of six sacks. That was good enough to pace all conference freshmen in that category. Additionally, he had a Pac-10 best among freshmen in tackles-for-loss (10.5) and forced fumbles (three). His six sacks were the third-most sacks by an ASU freshman in school history, trailing the 10.0 sacks made by both Terrell Suggs (2000) and Shante Carver (1990).

The two and a half sacks by Davis against the Cardinal give him four and a half on the year, putting him well on pace to eclipse his feat from last season. Davis, who started all 13 games at defensive end as a redshirt freshman, prefers not to talk much about himself and more about the collective effort of his teammates.

"We're just having fun, trying to make the most of it," said Davis. "We're trying to keep on wining these ball games." He doesn't know if the success of the defensive line can be attributed more to scheme or passion, and he remarked pragmatically that "It's happening, we're 5-0, so I can't complain."

Davis feels very fortunate that he and his group were able to remain under the tutelage of defensive line coach Grady Stretz, who was only one of two assistant coaches who stayed put when ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson was named as the new Sun Devil skipper.

"That's a definite plus. I have a comfort zone with him," Davis commented. "He's such a great coach. He's been nothing but helpful to my development and the development of the rest of the guys on the D-Line."

Furthermore, the sophomore also credits Stretz and the rest of the defensive coaches for the solid preparation leading up to the Stanford contest. "It was everything that we planned for," he commented of the offensive looks the Cardinal were showing. "We scouted them real well and knew everything they would try to do against us and we were able to stop it."

The game wasn't so smooth for the maroon and gold offense, who managed just two field goals in the opening quarter, and scored only one touchdown in the first half. Ultimately, the ASU defense made sure that their hosts didn't take advantage of ASU's offensive troubles. "Whenever the offense has a slow start or is struggling, it's always good for us to come out and be the catalyst for us to keep on going," he said.

Even tough depth at defensive end is quite thin; Davis contended that he doesn't feel extra pressure to produce. In fact, he's confident in his teammates' abilities. "We got a lot of guys who are working hard, guys that can step in and play when needed," He noted. "We're just gonna continue and play hard, and continue to do the things we do."

Davis, a Phoenix Thunderbird High School graduate, was a back-to-back 4A state wrestling champion (at the 215 pounds weight class which is quite lighter than his current 247 pounds) as a junior and a senior. He credited the sport for giving him the necessary "mental toughness, leverage, and physicality" to play the defensive end position in football.

The defensive end, a self-proclaimed quiet leader who prefers to lead by example over leading verbally, is more than happy to be part of the surprising and proverbial ‘No-Name' defense. "We don't worry about the individual accolades," he said. "We play as a unit and the product so far has turned out pretty well."

At a team record of 5-0 Davis claims that "the sky is the limit" for this Sun Devil team. That statement would seem to be also applicable to the play of a Dexter Davis and a defensive line that may be starting to match their pass rushing abilities with their run stopping prowess.

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