Lloyd Carrington emerging as a key part of ASU's defense

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Carrington defends a pass thrown to Stanford's Devon Cajuste (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images) By Stephen Lam Carrington defends a pass thrown to Stanford's Devon Cajuste (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images) By Stephen Lam

TEMPE, Ariz. -- "Here we go"

The ball was coming right at him. It was go time. He was ready.

He had dropped back into his coverage, but when Colorado quarterback Connor Wood was chased to the sideline by the pass rush, he followed, hoping a pass would come his way. 

It did.

Arizona State cornerback Lloyd Carrington then made the play. He leapt up to snag Wood's desperate pass from the air, and after a 20-yard return, he was taken down. It was the first interception of his collegiate career, and it set up a Sun Devil touchdown.

"I was getting ready to try and take it back to the house," Carrington said of the play. "It was very exciting to get the first interception of my career. I baited him (Wood) on the play when he was rolling out. He threw it up, and I went up and made the play.”

The play was part of a very strong performance by Carrington last week, and it continues a run of impressive play from the redshirt sophomore. Carrington has seen action in all six games this season, making five tackles and knocking away two passes. 

“They have been exciting. I have been learning lot being able to go against top level opponents," said Carrington. "Going up against Notre Dame and Stanford has been a real experience for me. It will help me out down the road  as far as getting more experience and becoming a better player.”

On Tuesday, ASU defensive coordinator Paul Randolph praised Carrington as one of the biggest surprises of the year. Not surprisingly, Carrington has been seeing time with the starting unit at the cornerback spot opposite Osahon Irabor this week in practice. 

Carrington feels is more than ready for a prominent role on the ASU defense.

"Coach has been incorporating me into the defense a lot more," Carrington said. "It allows me to learn more. He puts me in to make plays, because he knows that I have the ability to do it, so he’s been putting me into the right positions to execute.”

That faith and push from the coaching staff has been a major factor in Carrington's development.

"They are challenging me. Mentally and physically, they are helping me out a lot," said Carrington. "Every day, I feel myself growing better as a player, both mentally and physically, and maturing more. Hopefully, I can become a leader on the defense.”

Carrington has also received a wealth of knowledge from a pair of seniors in the Sun Devil secondary: Irabor and safety Alden Darby. Learning from them is the equivalent of a PhD course if football leadership, and Carrington hopes to rise to their level one day.

“It’s been great to watch them come out and work hard every day," Carrington said. "I’m constantly trying to mimic the things they do by seeing how they prepare for games. It’s very inspiring. I’m just looking to use that to help me better myself as a player.”

Last year, aided by one of the nation's best pass rushes, the Sun Devil pass defense ranked No. 3 in the country. This year, despite the help of a consistent pass rush, ASU is still well ranked at No. 31, but have been plagued by an alarming frequency of allowing big plays, such as the eight plays of 15 or more yards surrendered to Notre Dame. 

To Carrington, the reasons are not due to a lack of talent, bur rather errors in execution. Eliminating those lapses has been a primary focus this week in practice.

“The main thing is just fundamentals, like small technique errors on the backend," said Carrington. "We still remain confident. We know we have a great secondary. We’re focusing on executing the proper calls and being confident.”

Carrington and the Sun Devils will need that confidence and proper calls this week, as they will be facing a daunting test on Saturday.

The Washington Huskies, No. 20 in the AP Poll, come to town with the nation's No. 8 offense, and their passing attack led by quarterback Keith Price is averaging over 278 yards per game. The Husky wide receivers are a dangerous, and versatile, group. Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith are speedy targets downfield, while the electric Jaydon Mickens poses a threat out of the slot.

“They have a pretty good receiving corps," Carrington said. "The inside guys are fast, shifty dudes. The outside guy (Kasen Williams) has a bigger body. They will give us a nice challenge. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great game. They are a very talented team, and I have much respect for them.”

While the forthcoming battle will be difficult, it is one that Carrington feels the Sun Devil secondary is ready to face as long as they play to their ability.

"We know we have the guys to do it. It’s just going out and executing whatever call is thrown at us," said Carrington. "I think we’ll do a great job because all of the guys on the backend are confident, and we know what we are doing. We look forward to the big challenge."

Here we go.