ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Gonzales: Arizona State’s competition on defense ‘amazing’

Feb 19, 2019, 1:50 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Before last season, the Arizona State Sun Devils were hit with a tough blow.

In the team’s first scrimmage, linebacker Tyler Whiley went down with a foot injury, effectively ending his season before it began.

But now Whiley’s healthy, and the level of fight he’s bringing to the table hasn’t gone unnoticed by defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales.

“The competition’s amazing,” Gonzales said after practice on Tuesday. “You see Aashari [Crosswell] over the last four days, he’s really improving in there and showing up.

“Tyler Whiley saw that too. I think sometimes, competition breeds excitement and I told Tyler he’s going to play next year, we’ll find out where.”

Although Whiley was originally listed as a wide receiver prior to Herm Edwards and staff taking over, he showed a lot of potential on defense. The rest of the team took notice as he was dubbed one of the emotional leaders of the team by Gonzales after he went down with his injury.

Crosswell turned heads last season with his play in the Ranger position. Not only did he rack up 43 total tackles, he also caused headaches for opposing quarterbacks, recording four interceptions in the team’s final five games.

Now with Whiley back in the fold, the Sun Devils gain more options as they look to build on last season’s success.

“Whichever one of those guys is the best Tillman, the other one will probably be a Ranger,” Gonzales said of the duo. “And all this cross-training makes it possible, and they definitely have the body style to do it and it’s turned out to be a great experiment.”

Merlin Robertson expected back sooner than later

While ASU gets after it in Spring ball, there’s one glaring piece that’s missing; Merlin Robertson.

The linebacker was the life blood of the ASU defense last season.

But Sun Devil fans shouldn’t fret over his absence from practice.

“I think we’ll have him out before the end of spring ball,” Gonzales said when asked about the linebacker’s absence. “I love Merlin, love him like a son.

“We have standards around here and sometimes playing time is the best thing to get people to understand. … They know that no matter who they are, everyone’s held to a certain standard … so he’ll definitely be back.”

Robertson was seventh among Pac-12 linebackers with eight missed tackles and played more snaps than any true freshman in the Pac-12 with 749. In his 11 starts, the linebacker led the team in tackles (77), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5.0).

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona State Football

Rachaad White #3  of the Arizona State Sun Devils congratulates teammate Jalin Conyers #12 after he...
Arizona Sports

Sun Devils drop out of AP Top 25 following Utah loss

After Saturday's 35-21 loss to Utah on the road, Arizona State has fallen out of the AP Top 25 college football rankings.
21 hours ago
Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd (0) reacts after sacking Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels durin...
Associated Press

Utah takes hold of Pac-12 South Division after comeback win over ASU

Cameron Rising threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, rallying Utah to a 35-21 victory over No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday night.
2 days ago
Arizona State running back Rachaad White (3) carries the ball against Utah during the first half of...
Jake Anderson

Arizona State collapses in Utah as offense goes silent in 2nd half

After taking a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, ASU failed to score a single second-half point en route to a 35-21 loss.
2 days ago
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) carries the ball as Utah safety Vonte Davis (9) defend...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State leads Utah at half despite 7 offensive penalties, fumble

Arizona State is back to its old ways of committing penalties and playing undisciplined football in the first half.
2 days ago
Arizona State defensive back Chase Lucas reacts after knocking down a pass against Colorado in the ...
Wills Rice

Report: ASU’s Chase Lucas, Evan Fields and Johnny Wilson out vs. Utah

ASU CB Chase Lucas (back), S Evan Fields (hamstring) and WR Johnny Wilson (hamstring) will reportedly not play in Saturday's game vs. Utah.
2 days ago
(Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)...
Wills Rice

Arizona State honors fallen Utah players with heart shaped helmet decal

ASU added heart-shaped helmet decals to honor the two Utah players in Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan, who have passed away in the last year.
2 days ago
Gonzales: Arizona State’s competition on defense ‘amazing’