It wasn't a pretty day at the office for ASU's front four last Saturday. After all, Oregon's Onterrio Smith ran for 172 yards and three touchdowns, and helped the Ducks put the Sun Devils in a 21-0 hole early in the game. Coach Monachino doesn't sugarcoat what happened, but also accentuates the positives. "We played real hard. We weren't as productive as we could be. We were frustrated by some of their schemes, but we played hard for sixty minutes." On paper the defense gave up 21 points in each of two halves, but the performance in the last 30 minutes is what helped ASU in its comeback win. "It was a lot different (in the second half). Oregon was operating under different conditions in the second half. I couldn't be prouder in the way we competed."
Timing is everything in Football. There was no better example than star defensive end Terrell Suggs. The Mid-Season All-American was virtually shut out the entire game, by being double-teamed. Nonetheless, his hit on Oregon's quarterback Jason Fife helped Devils' cornerback Brett Hudson intercept his pass, and seal the victory for his team. Monachino says that Suggs' success this year, is as much mental as it is physical. "He is developed a lot of different things rushing the passer, and he's better at playing the run. His frustration doesn't happen nearly as quickly as it used to. Before, a lot of his self worth was based on if he could rush the passer or not. Now he can contribute to our Football team in so many other ways, and he did that in the running game."
When a young team is coming off a monumental, let alone shocking win the perception of team overconfidence and cockiness always seems to creep in. Monachino acknowledges that this trend is always a possibility, but says that with the right attitude this group of players can avoid this. "I think we've moved a little beyond that (overconfidence). We do have to change our approach. I do think that we do have to re-focus, establish discipline back, and still make sure that we're still in the right direction. We never de-railed from that (attitude)." He described the first practice following the Oregon win as: "Spirited. Focused on Washington. I haven't heard anybody mention the Oregon game since Sunday. Once we got back to the work week they were no lingering effects(of the Oregon win)."
Even though it was a short window of time, the Sun Devils' Defensive Line Coach did enjoy the improbable victory in Eugene. " It's my biggest win in my career. It's a great quality win for everybody that was involved. In perspective as this team would perceive it, it means a lot because it's validation of a lot of things we've done in the last year and a half…it's easier for a coach to come off cloud nine, because we started watching film on Sunday. They (the players) had until Tuesday to think about it, which is good because we wanted them to celebrate it."
The task at hand doesn't get any easier this week, when Moanchino's crew will face Washington's talented running back Rich Alexis. "He's a good back, and he has been like that for three years. He's scary in some of the things he can do. He hasn't been able to get started yet, and we hope we're not the team that he becomes healthy again, and starts running like he did as a freshman and sophomore."
Monachino Appreciates Defensive Line's Effort
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