Coach Koetter Answers Fans Questions

Oct. 4, 2002

Way too many questions to get to this week. Please be patient and we will eventually get to most of them. Thanks for your support vs. Stanford. Bring your friends for UNC this Saturday night. Five-dollar tickets are available for the last time.

Some things to remember:

  • I cannot talk or comment about individual recruits.

  • I will not talk any more about the shotgun.

  • I am well aware of who our biggest rival is and we have made it a priority to take care of business in that game this year!

    This week, we have some guest columnists. To start off, Offensive Graduate Assistant, Ed Zubey, talks about how the weekly game tape is graded on offense:

    'We breakdown the game together as a staff. We watch every play of every game. We get to see each play from a wide shot as well as an end zone shot. Each coach is responsible for his own players. It might take the O-Line coach longer to grade his players because he has five guys on every play to grade where as other positions do not have as many. The O-Line coach comes in earlier than the rest of the coaches and gets started on the film. When we all watch it together, we go over all the mistakes and discuss what we need to do to correct it. This process takes about two hours. Each coach has his own grading method. Most coaches use the + or - system and double -'s for critical errors. We use the film to teach our guys about what they did wrong. It is good for them to see this because then they know what needs to be done to fix this. We always work on the fundamentals but we are never perfect and that goes on at every level of this game. I hope this answers the questions you had. Thank you for writing.'

    Next, Defensive Graduate Assistant, Jeff Copp, covers how the defense handles scouting his own tendencies:

    'As far as scouting ourselves goes, we have just invested in a new computer video system that allows us to input data and match it up with video clips from our games. This program is used for both our self-scouting and our opponent breakdown. The technology that is used now has made this process extremely quick. All of our season's information is a double-click away.'

    'We break down each game so that all the information that you can imagine for a play is entered into the computer. We are interested in down, distance, formation and play, as well as what defensive front and coverage that we might be in on that play. We can then sort through this data to gather information on any play-calling tendencies that we may have. For example, we can sort out all of the 3rd downs and long distances and match what coverages that we are calling on those downs. We run weekly reports after every game that match our calls versus every personnel group and on every down and distance.'

    'Our offense uses the same program for its self-scout. They look for down and distancetendencies, run pass ratios and play selection in certain formations and personnel groups. Our self-scout is designed not only for us to realize our tendencies but to find out what we do well and what is not working.'

    Finally, our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Joe Kenn, will catch you up on a variety of subjects that fans have been asking about:
    'As we are heading deep into our conference schedule, it is important to note how hard the athletes are training and practicing to continue to improve each and every week. We are very proud of our team to this point with their commitment, dedication, and belief in team excellence.

    Coach asked me to talk about several of the more popular e-mail subjects that he has received over the last couple of weeks, so here goes:

    1 - 2nd Half Warm Ups
    Well, our fans are quite impressive because some of them miss nothing. I think I would still be at the concession stand getting something to eat rather than sit in the stands to observe our quick warm-up as we come out of the tunnel for the second half. Actually, this is something that my assistant, Cheyenne Pietri, has been saying to me for the last three years. (Cheyenne was a senior on Coach's first Boise State team and is currently in his fourth year of being part of my strength staff.)

    Before the start of the game against Central Florida, Coach pulled me aside and told me to have a plan in mind in case lightening interrupted the game. Also, he mentioned putting something together to help us get a 'jump start' for the second half. As soon as he said this, I knew Cheyenne would be excited.

    When it comes to the physical preparation of his players, Coach is very astute on little things that other head coaches don't think about and this was one of those occasions (as his belief in investing time after each practice to post stretching the athletes and working out on Sunday's to enhance the recovery process).

    The 2nd half warm-up is about one thing and one thing only - 'exciting' our guy's body back into an activity state. Our data has shown that, including the 20 minutes halftime break, our athletes may have between 25-30 minutes of non-activity before they are on the field again. For instance, when our offense took the field for the second half of the UCF game, they had not played a snap for over 33 minutes.

    The warm up is actually a drill we use in our speed development program. The athlete performs three in-place jumps and then performs a 40-yard build-up sprint (picking up speed each 10 yards). The in-place jumps works the neurological system by 'firing up' the fast twitch muscle fibers and the build up warms up the hamstrings and hip flexors of the legs to get us back into play mode. This is a rather simple procedure that seems to be paying dividends.

    2 - Why do we seem to be wearing people down in the 4th Quarter?
    There are several comments that need to be made on this topic. As we still have a lot of football to play, we hope this trend continues. One of our main goals as a team and program are to develop a reputation as a physically tough and imposing fourth quarter football team. We talk about this subject daily. We want to be recognized as the premier fourth quarter football team in the country.

    This will become a reality because of three things, belief, practice, and year-round training. Belief. Our players have now been under our supervision for over a year and they believe in all aspects of our mission. This cannot be overlooked. It does not matter how great something looks on paper if those who are supposed to implement it do not believe in it.

    Practice. We practice hard. Anyone who has watches our practices know Coach and his staff have our players working constantly. Our players are expected to hustle to each drill and perform each drill with game day intensity. On top of that, our coaches coach hard. They drive our athletes every minute of every practice. I have yet to see a practice where the coaches are not preparing, correcting and teaching the players what to do and more importantly how to do it.

    Year Round Training. Obviously this is where my staff and I come into the physical and mental preparation of our team. Our team started its quest December 3rd 2001. The amount of punishment the human body takes during a competitive season is tremendous. The days of showing up for two-a-days and playing yourself into shape are over. Our athletes have made the ultimate sacrifice working out five days a week with a minimum of seven training sessions a week for 52 weeks. This includes all of our scholarship athletes participating in our last two voluntary summer programs. All this for a possibility to play in 14 contests this year. We want our guys to feel that playing the game is the easiest day of the week. I'll let you in on a little secret. Sunday is the hardest day of the week for our team. This is our hardest lifting day as well as conditioning session for the week.

    3 - Our New Facility and its effect on Recruiting
    Our new facility is awesome. Let's face it, college recruiting today is about the arms race and in football that means facilities especially the 'weight room'. As much as I believe in academics and obtaining a college degree, when recruits arrive on campus they want to see the weight room and our facility is second to none.

    We are extremely indebted to Gene Smith, our Athletic Director, for understanding the importance of this facility, not just for the football program but all Sun Devil Student-Athletes. We have the best equipment available on the market today and it gives instant motivation to our players every time we train.

    When recruits and their parents enter our facility, their first expression is a smile and a sense of disbelief that something can be that impressive. We call it the 'wow effect'.

    In Season Training
    Our annual plan for our football team is broken down into seven training programs during the year. As we are in the in-season program, I would like to discuss several points of emphasis we make during this phase and others - Conditioning, In Season Strength Gains, and Training the Football Player.

    Conditioning: We may be the only program in America that bases its strength training cycles off of their conditioning/running program goals. We do this because football is a game of numerous plays and the longevity of a game (total time) is extremely hard on the body, both mentally and physically. Our conditioning programs, especially that last phase of our voluntary summer program, are based entirely on data taken from actual Sun Devil football games, as well as specific position movements that each player will be required to perform during a particular play. Some of this information will amaze you when it comes to the actual time the athlete plays real full speed football.

    In a three-hour-plus game, an athlete who plays on offense will play on average six minutes of live football. A defensive player averages closer to five minutes. This is further broken down to about 70-75 plays or bouts of exercise. On average, an offensive play takes 4.95 seconds and a defensive play takes 4.35 seconds. Let's not forget special teams, which is an additional 20-25 plays per game for some athletes. Special team plays average 7.6 seconds per play.

    Of the 75 plays of offense or defense that an athlete may play, these plays are then separated by series. We average 15 series a game for five plays per series. Between each play, not including a time out or penalty, our players average 34.5 seconds of rest. When the series is complete, we average close to 7 � minutes of rest before the offense or defense takes the field again.

    Now I know what you are saying, what does all this mean. It means football is an explosive repetitive sport with a long duration. It is imperative that the athlete be able to maintain the highest level of speed and strength for 75+ plays (we had several defensive players play over 100 snaps against SDSU). Our athlete's conditioning program consists of game simulation where they will perform movement patterns for specific time periods that simulate game type activity. Our goal leading up to Camp Tontozona is to have our players prepared for two non-contact simulated games per week (a 60 play and a 75 play game) for four weeks. Running laps around a track is outdated. The athleticism of today's brand of football leads to the emphasis of short duration, multiple changes of direction, and explosive drills. Our players must be prepared to be great football players - not 400-meter specialists.

    In Season Strength Gains: Most individuals who have any understanding of strength training are led to believe that during the season is a time for maintenance. Wrong. When looking at the 52-week plan, in season training, including bowl preparation, it could be as much as one half of the training year. If we keep our athletes in a 'maintain mode,' we will not maintain strength, but decrease strength and that is not acceptable. Our volume of training is very similar to our developmental programs of the winter, spring and summer. We are looking for our athletes to become stronger as the season moves along. This is part of our goal of fourth quarter dominance.

    Just so you know I am not blowing smoke, I will give you three examples of athletes who are integral parts of our success and what they accomplished over the open week. TB Hakim Hill set a personal record in the squat with a 22-pound improvement, DT Shane Jones set a 15-pound personal record in the bench press and C Grayling Love set a 25-pound personal record in the squat and a 35-pound personal record in the bench press. All of our upperclassmen performed at least 90% of their previous maximums for five sets of one rep in the squat and bench press during this week. It should also be noted that they did this with only a 35 second rest between each rep. Note: Five sets of one rep with a 35-second rest between each set, sounds a little like a series in a game doesn't it!

    Developing a Football Athlete. We are not interested in developing 'lifters'. No one is going to be excited about a 2-9 football team with 20 guys who bench press 400 pounds. You are going to get excited about a 12-0 team whose players play strong for four quarters and show their strength on the field. That is what we want -- strong, conditioned ball players. We do this by developing a strength program that is based on movements rather than body parts. Football is based on movement in numerous planes and speeds and it is critical to our program development.

    For example, our program is based around the greatest strength exercise of all time - the BACK SQUAT. This one exercise sets the tone for all other exercises in our program. The problem from a functional standpoint is that this is a movement where both feet are on the ground simultaneously and it is performed in a linear up and down fashion. But, because of the strength developed in this lift we can teach our athletes more functional exercises, such as lunge and step-up variations that work unilateral movement patterns that are specific to athletics. The back squat develops the absolute strength the football player needs and then the special exercises, such as the lunge, develop the functional strength needed to perform the athletic movements on the field.

    In closing, I would like to bring up two individuals who are truly behind the scenes and deserve a tremendous amount of credit for all they do for our players and for our strength and conditioning program for football - Cheyenne Pietri and Mark Uyeyama. We are way ahead of our plan in the strength and conditioning program because of our players work ethic and because of these two individual's tireless effort of helping us achieve success on and off the football field. We are fortunate to have them be a part of our program.'

    Thanks for your continued support. Let's be LOUD and excited at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night!

    GO DEVILS!

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