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Darien Butler's Domination Proved Vital for Arizona State Defense

The Arizona State linebacker halted two Southern Utah drives, preventing the game from ever getting close.

Football is the epitome of team sports. With 22 players on the field each and every play, it only takes one player to miss an assignment to drastically change the outcome of events. Every player is required to do their job, and while each player at the collegiate level is respectively talented, some guys elevate themselves to go above and beyond on the field. 

Count Arizona State linebacker Darien Butler as one of those guys. 

It was a one-possession game in the late stages of the first quarter Thursday night. Arizona State led 13-7, and Southern Utah had just recovered a wild kickoff deep into ASU territory after scoring. Threatening to score and potentially take the lead, Thunderbirds quarterback Justin Miller was intercepted by Butler, stripping away any momentum. 

Later in the first half, as time was ticking down, the Thunderbirds again found themselves ready to draw within striking distance. However, Butler read Miller's eyes perfectly for his second interception of the night. 

The senior linebacker and team captain also managed to snag a total of five tackles, sitting behind only defensive lineman D.J. Davidson despite tying for the team lead in solo tackles with four. 

Needless to say, Butler found himself occupying every blade of grass on Thursday night. 

"I’m the guy that is normally locked in, but with the fans making all that noise, it’s hard to not notice," said Butler after the game. "It was a blast. I’m grateful to be in this position, I’m grateful to be talking to you guys, I never thought this would happen.”

If you watched Arizona State's opening game of the season, you'll know there was a lot left to be desired on both sides of the ball. ASU didn't truly gain control of the game until the second half, as Southern Utah (to its credit) didn't allow the Sun Devils to comfortably sync in their play until the later stages of the game. 

In those meddling moments that can shift momentum, the cream typically rises to the top. Players emerge as leaders on the field and take things into their own hands. Arizona State emerged victorious 41-14 thanks to a handful of plays made by a handful of players. 

Butler, on every account, ensured the Sun Devils bent but didn't break when Southern Utah had the football. In a blowout such as Thursday night's contest, it may be easy to overlook his efforts, especially with 41 points on the board. 

Yet, these sorts of players and performances pay dividends down the line in more crucial games, and if Butler displayed anything Thursday night, it's how vital he can truly be for Arizona State's defense. 

Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit