Vasquez Enjoys Breakout Game

A stellar football career in high school or junior college, isn't always a sure recipe for success in college. Throw in a fall camp injury, and getting on track to start the season became that much harder. Luis Vasquez has experienced the natural learning curve of a first-year player. Performances like he had against Stanford validate his skills and give the defensive line a much needed boost.

With a dire need for pass rushers coming into this season, it's no wonder why the Sun Devils heavily pursued Arizona Western Junior College standout Luis Vasquez. The 6-3 247 defensive end was an NJCAA first-team All American, as he collected 31 sacks during his tenure in Yuma and captured the WSFL sack title in back-to-back years.

Vasquez arrived in Tempe as a mid-year transfer, which turned out to be pivotal for his play this season. Even tough he struggled for the first half of spring practice, he got invaluable experience that is paying dividends these days.

An ankle injury during fall camp took its toll physically and mentally, but the familiarity and the knowledge of the system didn't make it impossible for him to come back and be the solid starting defensive end coaches envisioned him to be.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable from the beginning of the season," said Vasquez who leads all defensive linemen with 13 tackles on the season. "Pac-10 football is a lot tougher, and I'm just trying to play better and get my swagger back."

"Spring practice helped me know the defensive package pretty well. But when you're not practicing, and then you work on packages for certain games, like the San Jose State game (which was also the season opener), you feel a little out of the loop. I re-injured my ankle before the San Diego State game, so it was tough preparing for this game too. But I'm healthy now so it's only gonna get better from now on."

It would be easy to point to the Stanford game as turn around point for Vasquez, as well as his entire defensive line unit. The JC transfer recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, including one sack, in addition to one pass breakup. "The whole line was physical and active. You can tell that we got after it, because they had -2 yards rushing," he noted. "You have to be healthy to play well in Pac-10 ball. That injury was a setback, but I caught up on everything and had a good game against Stanford."

The lack of sacks from ASU's front four, is an issue that coaches highlighted during the week before the Stanford game. Consider the message received loud and clear as the defensive line recorded 5.5 out of the season-high seven total sacks by the defense. "We knew about it," said Vasquez about the coaches' concerns. "Word gets around and we take a lot of pride in what we do. We knew we had to step up. I'm not gonna say that we gave the people what they wanted against Stanford, but we knew we had to get better in the pass rush because it's only gonna get tougher later in the season."

The next game for Vasquez and his teammates has them taking the road to Washington State, a school the defensive end de-committed from en route to becoming a Sun Devil. Vasquez claimed that this week's game doesn't carry any special meaning for him, and just rather presents an opportunity for him to build on his recent success.

"It's a game where we're facing a brand new offense and new schemes," he remarked. "They have a good quarterback and I'm just gonna go in there and try to make plays again."

The swagger and confidence that Luis Vasquez is enjoying these days is typical of the rest of ASU's defense, who is establishing themselves as one of the conference's best. Yet feelings of content are nowhere to be found despite this success.

"The scary part is that we have so much talent and so much more left in the tank we haven't used," said Vasquez. "Once we get around to those big games, we'll be really lights out."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories