August 12, 2008

Davis enters season with new motivation

Improving on a season in which he compiled 33 tackles and 10.5 sacks won't be easy.

But Dexter Davis knows he can. He has some extra motivation this year.

In November, Davis became a father. And now, just thinking about his son Andre helps Davis push himself harder than ever.

"When it's hot out here or I'm tired or just having an off day for whatever reason I just think of him and it helps me get through," Davis said. "I know he looks up to me so I have to set an example and always do my best, give my best effort."

And as much as becoming a father has changed Davis' approach to football, it has changed his view on life even more.

"[Becoming a father] has been a challenge for me," Davis said. "There have been some tough times and some good times for me. It sometimes gets hard balancing school and football and being a dad. But overall there's nothing like it.

"It's really put my life in perspective and made me mature as a person. It's been a blessing."

The junior has started at defensive end every game the past two seasons, but that doesn't mean he is complacent. Although he is already very technically sound, he knows there is always room for improvement.

Davis had a typical summer, focusing primarily on his strength and speed, but this fall he is selecting one aspect of his game each practice to really focus on and develop.

Saturday morning it was his handwork.

"Every play I was completely focused on where my hands were," Davis said. "I was just trying to keep them inside. At the beginning of practice I was letting them drift outside kind of a lot, but since that was my main focus today my hands were right where they needed to be every time by the end."

Another thing Davis will be focusing on throughout fall camp will be some of the new blitz packages the Sun Devils have been implementing.

With the first season under Coach Dennis Erickson out of the way, the coaching staff is throwing a lot more at the defense in Year 2, and Davis loves it. Especially when he gets to drop back into coverage on some of the new zone blitzes.

"That's pretty fun for us d-linemen," Davis said. "We hope we can pick one off. All those other guys on defense, they have chances for interceptions. But us on the line we rarely get that chance. So I love that opportunity. It's a lot of fun."

Davis said that as a group, the defensive line is adjusting pretty well to the new schemes the coaches are implementing, and that in part is because of their experience.

Davis and senior Luis Vasquez are returning starters at defensive end, and David Smith is a returning starter at tackle. The only projected new player along the front four is Saia Falahola, and he too in very experienced.

"The three of us (himself, Vasquez and Smith) have a lot of chemistry that we developed last year," Davis said. "And then with Saia playing the other tackle spot we have a lot experience. We all know each other, we all get along well, we're all friends. We're close, we have a good relationship. We can help each other out on the field, and off the field as well."

And with some of the new defensive end reserves, like redshirt freshman James Brooks and sophomore Jamarr Robinson, who switched from linebacker in the spring, Davis knows that mentoring those guys will help the line out by adding quality depth, which in turn will help keep everyone fresh during the games.

"Every day I'm trying to help those guys out whenever I can," Davis said. "Those guys are good listeners. They like to pay attention and really want to learn and get better out here, in the film room and on the field.

"We want to be one of the best defenses in the country and having a deep rotation will help out with that."

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