ASU football players gained continuity, hunger after rocky offseason

Jul 17, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:05 pm

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) intentionally grounds the football in the end zone fo...

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) intentionally grounds the football in the end zone for a safety as Arizona State defensive end Michael Matus (91) defends during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. UCLA won 25-18. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

With the roster turnover Arizona State football has endured a tumultuous offseason, new leaders are being asked to step up and lead the Sun Devils to a competent season as they look to avoid falling short of expectations in the Herm Edwards era.

DE Michael Matus and CB Timarcus Davis spoke with media Wednesday, sharing their thoughts on how the offseason has gone thus far.

“I’m confident in the guys we have here,” Matus said. “Coach Rod does a really phenomenal job of coaching everybody and it’s always next man up.”

“They’re not afraid to play young kids… Having a rotation keeps people fresh.”

When asked if the defensive scheme will change with new defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, Matus mentioned that the scheme is similar, however figuring out the camaraderie with the new transfers is what they need to focus on.

“It’s more so about establishing a relationship with the guys playing next to you.”

After finishing third in the Pac-12 South last season, Matus mentioned the team is tired of coming short of expectations.

The Sun Devils have gone 8-5 twice, 7-6 once and 2-2 during the COVID-19 shortened season in the five years under Herm Edwards.

“Everybody has a chip on their shoulder,” Matus said. “Everyone is tired of finishing third in the Pac-12.”

As a redshirt senior, Matus has noticed that this ASU team differs from ones in the past based on one distinct factor.

“This is my fifth year and this is the closest I have seen the team in five years,” Matus said.

The offseason has been filled with star players such as Jayden Daniels, DeaMonte Trayanum, Ricky Pearsall and many more hitting the transfer portal to leave for other schools.

Last season Arizona State finished 33rd in the country in rushing defense with 131.2 yards allowed per game.

Matus mentioned the run defense being a point of emphasis this offseason.

“Our run game defense is a lot better than it was before, so I’m happy about that,” Matus said.

As a senior member on the secondary, Davis is experiencing a new change with his role on the team.

Cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Jack Jones both were drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, so the secondary will have a different look after Lucas donned the maroon and gold over the last five years.

“It’s been a total role change for me personally and for the group all together,” Davis said. “I thought to myself we need a leader.”

Davis started his career at Baylor before spending the last three seasons at ASU. He has recorded 61 tackles and an interception over those three years.

Arizona State defensive back transfers Khoury Bethley and Chris Edmonds have already started to make a good impression on Davis.

“If one of them walked in the room, it’s like they’ve always been here,” Davis said.

As he enters his sixth year playing collegiate football, Davis reflected on his time as a Sun Devil as he takes the field for one more season.

“I wouldn’t “trade it for anything in the world,” Davis said. “This is why I love football. It’s circumstantial, life is circumstantial. You just read and react.”

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