TEMPE, Ariz. — Reviewing the film from last Saturday’s scrimmage, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham did not like what he was seeing out of his defense. There wasn’t much competition and too many players looked out of shape, specifically along the defensive line.
Graham made sure to let everyone, including the media, know how he felt.
“One reason why you say whatever you think is because kids read it,” Graham said with a smile after practice on Thursday. “The D-line a little p.o.’d and came out here today and responded. I like how they responded.”
In particular, Graham singled out redshirt junior Mo Latu.
“Came out with a purpose,” Latu said, adding he took Graham’s words to heart, saying he wanted to, “go out there and blow up everybody. If the whistle was blown, the whistle was blown. I was making sure I got my point across.”
“He was the leader of the defensive line today,” the coach said. “He’s got unbelievable potential.”
For Latu, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 370 pounds, to reach that potential he needs to lose more weight. Already he said he’s shed 24 pounds with a goal, what he called his “ideal” playing weight, of 330-335 pounds for the upcoming season.
Latu is committed, spending 45 to 50 minutes each day running on a treadmill, including jogging at a 10 percent incline, and exercising on a Stairmaster.
“It’s all worth it,” he said. “First time doing the Stairmaster and getting off of it, my legs were dead. But then the second practice, the Stairmaster came to my advantage. I’m building up muscle and everything so my steps are more powerful now. I look at it as another way to get better.”
Latu mentioned that even with the weight he’s lost thus far he can feel a difference, and his coach is excited about what the change can mean.
“We’re an attack front… (And) you can’t, at that weight — at 350-plus be able to — you can’t rush the passer, be able to move and do the stunts that we require on our defense,” Graham said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to help him because it’s also a health issue. You don’t need to weigh that much. But he’s got a great heart and a guy that I’m really, really proud of how he’s working right now.”