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Todd Graham accepts blame for 2015 defensive woes

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham speaks with Arizona State defensive back Jordan Simone (38) in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Utah Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

After being predicted to finish second in the Pac-12 South last season, Arizona State laid an egg and finished with a losing record for the first time in the Todd Graham era with a 6-7 mark.

A huge part of the reason ASU under-performed was due to its defense allowing big plays and high point totals.

The defense allowed 33.5 points per game, No. 99 in the nation, and 40 plays of at least 30 yards, No. 117 in the nation.

Although the injury bug bit Graham’s team hard, he accepted the blame. On Sirius XM College Sports Nation and transcribed by CoachingSearch.com, Graham admitted his inability to adjust to his team’s issues.

“We were a little stubborn in that regard, and the stubborn guy is the guy you’re looking at. We’ve learned from those things,” Graham said. “We just gave up the big play. You can’t say we had injuries. That’s part of it. We didn’t adapt. You’ve got to change some things. When you lose three of your starters early in the season, if you don’t have guys equal behind them, you’ve got to do some three-under, three-deep. You’ve got to give up some underneath stuff.”

The blitz-happy defense that Graham rolls out is very high-risk, high-reward. ASU experienced much of the latter in 2013 and 2014 with back-to-back 10-win seasons but last year did not follow suit.

Interestingly, ASU led the Pac-12 in sacks last season (46.0), but finished in fourth place in 2014 (39.0) and third place in 2013 (40.0). The pass-rush has led to the secondary notching top-two finishes in the conference in interceptions the past three seasons.

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