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September 7, 2011Freshman Mo Latu is a 340 pound man just getting acclimated to college football. He doesn't fit the profile of an Arizona State player that'd feel comfortable with Tuesday's outdoor practice.
So, Mo, how do you like the heat?
"Love it, man, loooove it," Latu said.
If the grin stretching ear to ear wasn't confirmation that Latu has a touch of the good-crazy, he provided a Cliff Notes version of what it means to represent the Sun Devils defense.
"I'm just trying to live up to the (ASU defensive) tradition," Latu said. "I'm going to be a head crusher. I want to nail anybody in an opposing jersey."
Yeah, Latu is quickly settling in with the "D-side."
He was fending off double teams Tuesday, attaching his meathooks into a scout team guard and center, bench pressing them for separation, allowing enough room to shed and react, never giving an inch.
Mo Mo, Mo problems for the defense.
"We think he brings an element to the defensive front that we don't have right now," Erickson said. "In the short time I've seen him, he is one of the best freshman I have seen at the position. He's got one thing that no one else can give him and that's fricken size. He's a big fricken guy."
For now, Latu's content being on a football field.
"I just feel a big sense of relief about a lot of stuff," Latu said. "I'm just happy right now. I'm home now. This is the place to be."
Mo knows Mo. He said he understands his current role mixing with the second unit of the defense, which could mean 10-15 snaps Friday, according to Erickson.
"I'm just trying to prove myself to the guys and to the coaches and trying to get better day-by-day," Latu said.
Kohl Swol; Marcisz on Role
Senior H-back Trevor Kohl extended the media's time with players Tuesday, taking a few 'exra credit' sprints after practice.
It's the work ethic that allowed him to shed three percent of his body fat without losing any weight in the off-season.
"I'm a lot quicker," Kohl said. "I worked hard this offseason. I replaced fat with muscle."
Against UC-Davis, Kohl was used as the lead blocker in the red-zone, helping the Sun Devils score inside the five on its first two possessions.
"Hopefully we can pound the ball in there some more with me," Kohl said.
Some ASU players feel like a smash-mouth strategy could be the key on Friday against a highly talented Missouri front seven.
"The seas are going to part and we're going to run the ball right up there," senior guard Mike Marcisz said. "That's how we're going to win this game; we are going to run the ball."
Both Marcisz and Kohl indicated the Tigers defense line has a different philosophy than others the Sun Devils will face this year.
"They're definitely not a penetration line," Marcisz said. "Those guys are going to read the play. You've got to get hands on these guys and let them go where they want to go. Take them where they want to go."
Kohl said the defensive line approach of the Tigers can be taken advantage of.
"Instead of choosing a gap right away, they kind of keep their head up and try to read where the play is going," Kohl said." It gives us that much more time to set our blocks."
However the Sun Devils offense attacks the Tigers, enthusiasm within the team about the long-talked about 'Blackout' has reached fever pitch.
"These are the games that set the tone for our season," Marcisz said. "We're going to win this game, and when we do, we're going to beat Illinois, and we're going to keep it going throughout the Pac-12, and we're going to win a championship. This is going to be huge for our season."
Reason for Outdoor Practice
With a handful of Sun Devils battling cramps amid the sweltering heat of the opener, it's clear some players could use a little more "outdoor time."
Erickson had another pragmatic explanation for the seeming torture.
"I wanted to be on the grass more than anything," Erickson said. "It is the timing of our passing game. I think starting next week if it gets below 110 we will probably go outside. No really, probably if it gets below 100 (we will go outside). I wanted them out here, but we will go back inside tomorrow and get them fresh to play tomorrow."