Rob Malara

ASU Midterm Report: Defensive Line


As the Sun Devils finish off of what Todd Graham refers to it as an “extra week” on his program’s schedule, we have broken down each and every position group on the football team giving a recap of performance with an GIF to match.

While the “final chapter has not been written” on the 2015 season according to Graham, the defense has been one of the shining lights making up for an offense that has struggled mightily through the first seven games of the season.

While the offense has trended downward in 2015, the ASU defensive line as a whole has been flat out dominant at times in terms of efficiency.  Defensive line coach Jackie Shipp, now in his third season running this unit has once again groomed some very underrated run defenders.  

Statistically, Shipp’s unit ranks seventh in the country in Adjusted Line Yards according to Football Outsiders, a metric that measures an opposing offensive lines success against a defense.  And in a better overall measure, the defense as a whole ranks 17th in Football Outsider’s rushing S&P+ metric.

And while you won’t see the likes of Edmond Boateng, Demetrius Cherry, Viliami Latu, Tashon Smallwood, JoJo Wicker on any All-American lists, at least four of the six should end up the season with at least All-Pac-12 honorable mention.  Smallwood has been the statistical darling of the group leading all Sun Devil defensive linemen in tackles and tackles for loss (sixth among Pac-12 defensive linemen in tackles for loss), showing the continued development you look for in a player that has seen playing time from the very beginning of last year, his first as a Sun Devil.

Speaking of the development of young players, no freshman has made an impact on the roster like JoJo Wicker.  One of the crown jewels of Todd Graham’s 2015 recruiting class, the four star out of Long Beach has shown off his huge upside at the field end position.

If there has been a criticism of one of the strengths of this Sun Devil team, it’s been its inability to get to consistently get the quarterback in the backfield.  Credited with just 3.5 sacks, the defense line represents just 15-percent of the team’s conference leading total of 24.

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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