Inside ASU Football With Quarterbacks Coach Mark Helfrich

July 20, 2001

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    Coach Koetter has passed the pen to another member of his staff for a couple of weeks, Mark Helfrich. Coach Helfrich joined the ASU Football family last fall to continue his role as quarterback coach as he did the past three seasons with Koetter at Boise State. To learn more about Coach Helfrich click here, and enjoy his articles.

    As this is my last summer installment of the Inside Scoop, I would like to thank everyone who wrote in with a question and the great words of encouragement from Sun Devil fans everywhere. Get your season tickets now and we'll see you in the fall. On to your questions...

    Mark McCain, Phoenix, writes, 'What advantages are produced with the wide-open approach, what is necessary to make it work and why does it succeed over schemes of the past?'

    This is a great question, and my first inclination is to write a treatise on modern football, but we might run out of gigabytes. I'll be brief... in the past, defenses were relatively nice. They would put seven defenders in the box and the secondary players would be just that. In 'modern' defenses, they put nine defenders in the box and almost force you to either be a lot bigger and stronger up front, run around them, or throw. That being said, the offenses have now expanded - the logic being, 'why bang our heads against all those guys in the middle when maybe we can have a speed advantage with wide receivers by spreading the field.' The key then is to either be really good at what you do from one group, formation, etc., have better athletes than 'they' do, or be very diverse and keep them guessing from many different formations, groups, etc.

    Andy Bennett, San Diego, writes, 'What kind of defense will you employ, and why is it good for the Pac-10?'

    Andy, I think we should have Brent Guy, our defensive coordinator, be the Inside Scoop writer, but he's unavailable, so I'll do my best. Our defense bases from a 4-2-5 principle. Meaning, four defensive lineman, two linebackers, and five defensive backs. They will utilize multiple blitz schemes, including the 'zone blitz.' The big advantage that our defense has - that will be good for the Pac-10 - is their ability to pressure, play physical run defense, and cover all from the same look.

    Jeff Ferguson, Orange County, CA, writes, 'With your aggressive start to the 2001 season, are things coming together the way your staff planned, and that plan include preparation, discipline, and work-ethic for the long-term?'

    We hit the ground running when we arrived in Tempe and with the great support of the administration, implemented Coach Koetter's philosophy from day one. The players have responded well and things are on the right track. Nothing can exemplify that more than having every single scholarship athlete in the Valley and working out through the summer - a tremendous commitment. Preparation, discipline, and work ethic are all facets of our philosophy, which Coach Koetter laid out in a previous edition of the Inside Scoop. We are very excited about the future of ASU Football, and that all starts and ends with Coach Koetter's plan.

    David Colwell, Del Mar, CA, writes, 'How do you 'train' the quarterbacks to read defenses and 'roll' through the receivers finding the open target, or is this a skill that some have and some don't?'

    First of all, we have to be speaking the same language. This is a process of teaching them how we identify and term defensive personnel and alignments, etc. From this point we try to group routes by concept - this will hopefully allow the QB to narrow his focus based on the type of route called. Different routes have different 'progressions' which is what you are talking about when you say 'roll through the receivers.' Some routes have up to four options, some routes have two options, and some have as few as one option (usually a special one-time type of route) based on the protection and the defense. The defensive alignment will often determine on which side of the formation the quarterback will start his read. We try to eliminate as much as possible before the ball hits the quarterbacks and hand - the less post-snap 'thinking,' the better. This is definitely a skill that can be taught, it's just a matter of repetition and seeing the concept. This is accomplished by chalk talk time, video time, and then actually doing it on the field.

    Have a happy and safe summer - Go Devils!

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