Coleman making an impact

Coleman making an impact

The narrative of a player saving his best for last has been a common theme at Arizona State the last few seasons. For senior defensive lineman Davon Coleman it's seems to be no different, as he's stepped in and arguably been the most impactful defensive lineman on the Sun Devil squad outside of Carl Bradford this season.

Davon Coleman was a key cog on one of the nation's best defensive lines in 2012, but was overshadowed by the likes of Carl Bradford and Will Sutton because of their pass-rushing prowess. What most people overlook is the fact that Coleman finished the year with 66 tackles, good for sixth on the team and actually three ahead of Sutton.

It looked as perhaps Coleman was getting overlooked yet again heading into this season, but this time by the coaches. On the official depth chart that came out at the end of fall camp, he was listed as the backup to Gannon Conway at defensive end.

However, with the injury to Jaxon Hood halfway through the Stanford game and Mo Latu's health and conditioning continuing to be an issue, Coleman was asked to step in and play nose guard for the Devils.

"It's nothing too different," Coleman said comparing defensive end and nose guard. "I practice it every day; I'm always moving around, switching different positions. But it's a different mindset and a small difference in techniques I would say."

One look at the stat sheet and you'll see Coleman has fully capitalized on his opportunity at nose guard. Through five games this season, Coleman is reaping the benefits of Bradford and Sutton's garnered attention, and is third on the team with 25 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, showing that with extended playing time he can certainly pay dividends.

"I definitely feel I'm playing better," Coleman said. "I really focused on offseason training a lot harder, I mean I really pushed myself as hard as I ever did, and it's showing off I guess. I've never been the type to wait to step it up. But this year has been a little different knowing that I don't know when my last game could be."

Last week in Dallas, Coleman finished with seven total tackles and was somebody coach Todd Graham mentioned played very well in Arizona State's loss to Notre Dame.

However, Coleman, along with the rest of the team, was not able to record a sack or sustain any amount of pressure on Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees, and that ultimately was a paramount factor in the loss. In reality, getting pressure has been a thorn in the defense's side all year.

While the lack of productivity in sacks and tackles for loss may be a result of better competition through the first five games, Coleman said that it also comes down to a mindset.

"You have got to go to work," Coleman noted. "And that's every day at practice; you have got to practice like you play. That's going to help you out in the game."

A stat that truly reflects the defensive output so far this season is the amount of sacks defensive tackle Will Sutton has (1) after finishing 2012 with 13. At the moment, Coleman is tied with Sutton with one recorded sack. He mentioned that the defense is sure to improve in pressuring the quarterback, but for now, he can give the All-American Sutton a hard time about being tied.

"Of course, it's competition," Coleman said laughing. "That's my man though, so I have to keep him on his toes and push him."

Three of previous four teams on Arizona State's schedule, Wisconsin, Stanford, and Notre Dame are all known for their punishing offensive lines. Moving ahead to the rest of the conference teams left on the schedule, most squads will attack the Sun Devils with spread schemes. A majority of the defensive positions will have to make certain adjustments to prepare for that certain style of offense, but according to Coleman, the defensive line won't change the way they play.

"D-line wise we really do the same things," Coleman claimed. "We focus on our main techniques, get off the ball low and hard and just read so it's really not too different. We are always banging anyways."

Coleman doesn't just reserve his talents for the defensive side of the ball. He also serves as the Sun Devils' full back on short yardage situations.

"I love fullback," Coleman commented. "Whatever they ask me to do as long as it puts my team in a better situation, I'm with it. But it's fun going on the offense a little bit. It's the same mindset as defensive line; I just want to hit somebody."

Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell hasn't called his number for a carry yet this season, but Coleman said it's bound to happen.

"I'm waiting patiently; I'm not going to press the issue," Coleman said with a smile. "I got a couple of plays set up for me."

The way his senior season has been unfolding don't be surprised if Coleman is able to showcase his talents on the other side of the ball.

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