Updated Nov 5, 2012 - 3:06 pm
Todd Graham: ‘This thing is not over yet'
Much like their disappointing 2011 campaign, the Sun Devils started the season on a tear and were sitting pretty atop the Pac-12 South.
And now, much like last season, ASU finds itself on a three-game losing streak with hope of a magical season slipping away.
Though this season may look like a lost cause to most people, head coach Todd Graham told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Monday that his team hasn't lost hope yet.
"I want to remind our fans, our students and our alumni, this season is not over yet. Let's get through these next three games, then we can evaluate it," Graham said. "I believe in these kids, I know these guys are going to battle. We are not done with this season."
The Sun Devils are 5-4 and third in the Pac-12 South standings behind UCLA and USC.
Even though the current state of ASU football looks awfully familiar, Graham said he takes "big issue" when his team is compared to last year's squad.
"To say that it is the same old same old, I would differ from that," Graham said. "But obviously, we got to have different results in the win/loss column."
Statistically, Graham said that the biggest difference between the two teams is defense. This year's unit still ranks 24th in nation despite their recent cold streak.
In addition to their much-improved defense, it's hard not to also point out the vast improvement the Sun Devils have made when it comes to discipline in 2012.
"When we have a guy get a penalty for roughing the quarterback, he sits out for a quarter. If we have someone fumble the ball, he doesn't play," Graham said. "We are establishing discipline and people are talking about discipline, but there is a big price to be paid for that."
The most penalized team in the Pac-12 last season, ASU has vastly changed their image and is now the least penalized in the conference.
"We have taken a deal that was on one extreme and taken it to all the way to the other extreme," Graham said. "I think our players deserve a lot of credit for that."
It's easy for Graham to be proud of the transformation his team has made, but he knows that at the end of the day he must build a winning program.
"We told our fans that we are going to represent them with class and character, and we were going to play ‘till the end of the whistle every game and our guys have done that," Graham said. "But that's not good enough, the expectation is to win championships, and we are never going to back down from that."
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