August 13, 2007

Marquardt looking to anchor ASU defense

While his teammates on the defensive side of the ball received much of the praise for their strong performance in Saturday's scrimmage at Camp Tontozona, senior defensive tackle Michael Marquardt doesn't mind being overlooked, just as long as his team is improving.

"I think the feedback [from the coaching staff] is that we've made improvement over the last couple of weeks and definitely since spring, but there's a lot this team can improve on," Marquardt said after Sunday afternoon's light workout.

Marquardt, who started 12 games for the Sun Devils in 2006, earning All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors thanks to his 25 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks, would love nothing more than to see his team improve their 7-6 record from a year ago and become a force in conference play.

"We're all here to try and create the best team possible so we compete in the Pac-10 and hopefully compete for a Pac-10 championship," he said.

For ASU to have that type of success, Marquardt must maintain his reputation of being a strong defensive tackle that controls the line of scrimmage.

If he can do that, Marquardt is excited about what his speedy teammates can do behind him having more room to operate as well as saving him some energy from not having to pursue ball-carries all over the field.

"It makes my life a lot easier," he said of his teammates' speed. "I feel a lot more confident in giving myself up in blitzes being kind of the goat because I know those guys are going to get in their and do what they have to do."

While the linebackers and secondary are making his life easier, Marquardt is trying to do the same for some of the younger defensive linemen behind him on the depth chart.

"When new guys come in we just try to make them feel welcome first of all, and then second we just help them as much as we can with whatever techniques they are struggling with," he said. "If I see something is wrong, I'm going to help the guy make it better."

Now that Marquardt is feeling comfortable in his second season as a Sun Devil, he has assumed a leadership role amongst the defensive linemen, but has yet to get a feel for his leader, first-year defensive coordinator Craig Bray.

"I don't think I've totally figured him out yet, but so far I've really enjoyed my experience with him," he said. "He's an interesting character -- all I can say is, he is a colorful character."

What makes Bray stand out from other coaches according to Marquardt is his unique blend of toughness and humor.

"He kind of has more of a dry sarcastic humor -- he gets on us -- but it's still funny at the same time," Marquardt admitted. "He makes it a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere that we can enjoy ourselves."

And with the defensive side of the ball relating well to their new coordinator, the only hurdle that remains left for Marquardt and his teammates while at camp is keeping their focus.

"I think all in all, when you get into that daily grind of camp, the team needs to keep focus, I think that's going to be the most important thing for us for the next couple of days."

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