Sun Devils Look To Return To Top Form

April 12, 2001

The 2001 ASU Football team will wrap up its spring drills this Saturday, April 14, at Sun Devil Stadium. The scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 2:30 pm.

For the first time in nine years there is a new headman instructing the players at Kajikawa Practice Field. Dirk Koetter and his staff inherit a program that is anxious to return to its dominant form from years past. With the new staff comes a new attitude and a new a new philosophy. The buzz from spectators out at practice is that they are very organized, tightly managed, and are a very efficient use of time. There is always a place for a player to be.

Spring drills are always a brutal time for collegiate football players across the country. It is a time of full padded practices day in and day out. There is no game to look forward to the upcoming weekend. You compete against the same teammates in every drill and are anxious to face a new foe. This year however, spring drill at Arizona State is a time of rebirth. With a new staff in place, the slate is wiped clean and players are battling for a starting position. Coach Koetter and his staff have made it clear that this period would be used to evaluate the talent they inherited and find the top 22 players that will take the filed in the fall.

With spring practice almost over, most players are no doubt suffering from information overload. A new staff means a new philosophy and a new offensive and defensive scheme. More significantly though, spring drills have given the players and staff an opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal basis. This is the first time that the coaching staff can see the players in a practice or game setting. It is an opportunity for the players to learn the system and the different personalities of the staff.

Quarterback Andrew Walter has described the new offense as 'high octane.' It will feature the use of three receivers at most times, many shifts and motions, and the ability to put points on the board. The fans that will fill Sun Devil Stadium next fall will find the games very entertaining.

The hot topic swirling around the football field is the battle at the quarterback position. There is a fierce battle between three players. Jeff Krohn returns after starting most of the 2000 season. Heralded redshirt freshman Andrew Walter and junior Matt Cooper have also gotten plenty of reps in practice. No clear-cut winner to the race has yet been determined.

At the running back position, Delvon Flowers returns after suffering a season ending injury last fall. Flowers looks stronger than ever and still has his big play potential every time he touches the ball. Tom Pace and Mike Williams both return after seeing significant playing time last season. Mike Karney returns at fullback and could be used at 'H-back'in certain formation. This group has an abundance of talent and depth, two key ingredients for a Pac-10 title.

The wide receivers have to be the happiest group on the field with the new offense. Donnie O'Neal, Shawn McDonald, Justin Taplin, and Ryan Dennard will see plenty of footballs thrown there way next fall. The emergence of freshman Mike Smith and Skyler Fulton, this group has plenty of depth. Look for this group to electrify the crowd next season with there combination of speed and athleticism.

Levi Jones, Scott Peters, Marquise Muldrow, and Kyle Kosier anchor the offensive line. Both Peters and Kosier had surgery in the off-season, but will be ready for the fall. Jones may be the top left tackle in the conference and will be an impact player for the Devils. Travis Scott returned to the football team and should see a significant amount of playing time. Regis Crawford and Drew Hodgdon provide valuable depth for the offensive line.

Tight end remains a big question mark with the departure of All-American Todd Heap. Mike Pinkard returns and is the only player to see a significant amount of playing time. Frank Maddox will also contend for some playing time in the fall.

The defense has probably undergone the most changes. They will run what is called a 4-2-5 defense, which is four down lineman, two linebackers, and five defensive backs. It resembles a traditional nickel defense.

The biggest position switch this spring involved Davaren Hightower, who was a former running back, now safety. He joins Al Williams and Willie Daniel, both who are considered by many as the best safety combo in the conference. Brandon Falkner will probably fill the third safety spot.

At corner, two freshman, Emmanuel Franklin and R.J. Oliver have been a pleasant surprise. Machtier Clay will has seen a significant amount of playing time in his career and will more than likely start at one of the corner positions, although Clay was recently put on indefinite suspension by Coach Koetter. Josiah Igono gained some valuable experience late last season and should also be in the mix.

The linebackers are also an extremely deep position. Soloman Bates, Eric Fields, and Mason Unck will battle for the two spots. Fields has had a productive spring and has emerged as a leader on the team. Josh Amobi and Jamal Anderson are both impact players and will see the filed in the fall.

The defensive line returns all of its starters from a year ago. Headlining the group is Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Terrel Suggs. Kurt Wallin is an emotional team player that will likely start at defensive tackle. Danny Masani, Paul Glass, and Tommie Townsend are all enormous figures that will play in the middle.

Nick Murphy, an honorable mention all-Pac-10 pick in 2000, will return at the punter position. Mike Barth, the Devils top scorer last year, recently underwent an appendectomy. He was lost for the spring, but should be ready for the kicking duties in the fall.

Coach Koetter and his staff have inherited a wealth of talent. The 2001 season will be an exciting year for the Sun Devils. Come out and support your team at their final spring scrimmage, April 14, 2:30 pm. in Sun Devil Stadium.

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