Saturday's loss to the USC was what saw the defense recover after a first quarter demoralizer.
The Sun Devils (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) gave the Trojans 28 points in the first quarter. After the explosive first quarter, they remained at three points for the rest of the game.
Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales knows the two moves that ended up being the difference in the game.
"Two plays, the 58-yard touchdown with a failed assignment on the floor, and the 95-yard touchdown on deck 2 should be impossible," Gonzales said. "That's the difference in the game."
Gonzales broke down the two sequences where the Trojans exploited ASU.
“The 95-yard play, the first down and the second down was great. Third time, we are in a perfect position, ”Gonzales said. "The Tillman should be running to have the ball thrown high, and we have two deep assurances that should knock it down or intercept it."
On the previous road, freshman Kenan Christon was alone on the left side of the field. First-year quarterback Kedon Slovis found him, and the rest speaks for himself when the first-year runner broke tackles and scored the 58-yard touchdown.
"We covered them under and threw it back," Gonzales said as he remembered the play. “We should have a flat defender to cover it. We were playing in a confrontation zone. "
The two key plays share one thing in common: the third down. Since the Pac-12 game against Colorado began, the Sun Devils have given up key plays in the third down that have kept the units alive and have given points of the opposite offense on the scoreboard.
"Last year was the third quarter," Gonzales said. "This year, it was not a problem in the first three games, and then in Colorado we abandoned the third and fourteenth place where we lack an allocation coverage in the back that allowed the driving to continue."
Gonzales also added that the message of head coach Herm Edwards in the locker room at halftime was a challenge. He asked if his boys were excited to play this game. He reiterated that when they play four full quarters of strong football, they are a good football team.
Edwards mentioned that the players did not have their heads down after being down 28-13. The offensive moved the ball after the slow start in the first quarter, and Edwards knew that the defense needed to step up if his team wanted a comeback.
“Defensively, now we have to play much better, and I thought they played quite well in the second half. They got a field goal, "Edwards said of his team's improved effort in the second half.
Although the defense could have kept USC on three points, Gonzales wants his group to have a good start in the future. It has been a recurring problem in the last two games, dating back to the slow first half of ASU against UCLA as well.
"We have to start better so we can get a three and go out to start the game and give the offense the ball," Gonzales said. “We are different to defend ourselves. First I want to defend myself, but the difference in the game is those two game scores. We have to eliminate those. This is how the teams beat you, that's how they beat Utah. "
The team as a whole is young and, on the defensive side, Gonzales wants to make sure to correct his mistakes.
As for the growing frustration around the fan base, Gonzales hears the voices and is making a promise. But first, the defense and the Sun Devils are looking for the train to return to the tracks.
"I promise you, show yourself as you did today and we will build a special program here in Tempe, what we had when Kush was here," Gonzales said. "It's possible … And the boys in the locker room are the reason. In that we have to continue building."