ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Arizona State’s secondary to utilize length, Jordan Clark at safety

Aug 4, 2022, 8:30 PM | Updated: 8:52 pm
Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Jordan Clark. (Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)...
Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Jordan Clark. (Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)
(Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)

TEMPE — The Arizona State Sun Devils have a whopping 21 defensive backs on the roster heading into the 2022 college football season.

That shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, though, when you consider who the head coach and defensive coordinator are for ASU.

Head coach Herm Edwards played cornerback in the NFL, and DC Donnie Henderson has also coached the position and coordinated defenses at the highest level. He was Arizona State’s DBs coach last year before taking the coordinator role following Antonio Pierce’s resignation in February.

So it should come as no surprise that the defensive secondary duo prefers bigger, taller and longer corners who can make passing windows smaller for opposing quarterbacks.

“How do you close the window?” Edwards explained after practice on Wednesday. “And the more length you have, you have the opportunity to make the windows a little tighter. … I’ve always liked big guys because it just takes up more room when you drop in zones. When you have your arm length along with your size, it becomes a different hurdle and a different window for that quarterback to throw it in.

“When you have guys with length — and we play so much man-to-man and we’re up there pressing — when the ball is thrown, that’s the hardest one to defend is the ball that the corner can’t see come out of his hand because his back is turned. When I’m running and I’m covering a guy, I don’t see that ball and my length will help me. A guy can have a step on you, but if you have length, you can make up for it and we saw that (Wednesday) a couple times. Some good plays by corners with length that knocked the ball away, so I like it.”

A few of the taller defensive backs on the roster feature Ro Torrence at 6-foot-4, Tarik Luckett and Jean Boyd at 6-foot-3; Chris Edmonds, Conner Lewis and Damon Williamson are 6-foot-2.

However, redshirt junior and returning DB Jordan Clark — who is listed at 5-foot-10 — will be making the transition from slot corner to safety.

“Playing safety when a guy like Ro is standing out there is pretty stress-free. I pretty much don’t even look over there, I know that he can handle his own,” Clark said. “There’s plays where he can get beat on the line, he’s so big, so fast that he can recover.

“It’s hard to throw the ball over his head. I think you saw that (Wednesday). So just having that length on the outside, on the field and in the defensive backfield is really cool.”

And now with the expectation of having to help out the run defense with gap responsibility (run fits) as a safety behind the front seven, Clark prioritized gaining 15-20 pounds since he got to school. He is currently listed at 185 pounds.

“Run fits, I think that’s something different coming from up high just knowing that I’m late to the party — I don’t have to be right there all the time,” Clark said of the positional differences. “Make sure I’m deep whenever I have to be in the deep middle and just know what everybody else is doing.

“Whenever I played nickel, I kind of just had to know what the box was doing and communicate with the corners, but now I have to know what the whole defense is doing, which is something that I’ve always done anyway.”

Clark added that the position change is something he wanted to do. Defensive backs coach Aaron Fletcher agreed, with the redshirt junior already being comfortable at nickel corner.

“I’m super confident, 100% confident in the guys that we have in the room,” Clark said. “(Khoury Bethley) was a standout at Hawaii. (Edmonds) was a standout at Samford. You watch their film, it speaks for itself. I think that they’re going to excel in this conference, in this league, and I think we’re going to be good.

“If you think that people are just going to throw the ball on us, we have 6-foot-4 corners standing out there and All-Americans everywhere, so I don’t know how that’s a sound thought process.”

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils before the NCAAF game against the Washingto...
Arizona Sports

Thamel lists ASU’s Herm Edwards among 4 on college football hot seat

ASU football players have noticed all the headlines from the past year of an NCAA investigation hovering over the program. Here's another.
2 days ago
Arizona State running back Daniyel Ngata (4) eludes Stanford linebacker Ricky Miezan, second from l...
Arizona Sports

State of the Sun Devils podcast: Running the football

On the latest State of the Sun Devils, Jesse Morrison, Jeremy Schnell and Arizona State reporter Jake Anderson break down ASU's running game.
2 days ago
Arizona State University, President Dr. Michael Crow speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit - Day 1 at...
Jake Anderson

Michael Crow: NCAA investigators yet to finish interviewing ASU football coaches

The NCAA investigation into ASU football has yet to finish interviewing coaches and staffers, school president Michael Crow told The Athletic.
3 days ago
Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici celebrates a touchdown pass against West Virginia during t...
Tyler Drake

Not even Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury can 1-up Mike Bercovici in Scottsdale

Mike Bercovici might be early into his Cardinals coaching career, but he's still got his head coach beat when it comes to the local scene.
3 days ago
The Arizona State Sun Devils football team breaks down a huddle during a fall camp practice in Augu...
Jake Anderson

ASU notebook: Offense adding new wrinkles, defense ‘pretty much set’

Things are starting to come together on both sides of the ball for the Arizona State Sun Devils ahead of their Week 1 opener on Sept. 1.
4 days ago
Emory Jones #5 of the Florida Gators throws the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field ...
Jake Anderson

Herm Edwards to announce Arizona State Sun Devils starting QB ‘shortly’

Herm Edwards is playing it close to the vest when it comes to officially naming which QB will be under center when ASU hosts NAU in Week 1.
4 days ago
Arizona State’s secondary to utilize length, Jordan Clark at safety