Inside ASU Football

Aug. 8, 2002

Hello from Camp Tontozona! The weather has been fantastic, the field is in great shape, and the players have been working hard. Many thanks to the overwhelming number of fans who wrote in this week. We had over 60 questions from Devil fans all over the country. New York, Texas, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, New Jersey, Hawaii, Washington, Alabama and, of course, Arizona all were represented. I read every single e-mail, and I would be writing for the next two weeks if I tried to answer them all! I am happy to say that there was only one question that I felt was someone telling me how we messed something up - as opposed to the intent of this feature - to let you, the fan, in on what we are dong. Keep the e-mails coming!

This week's questions:

Talk about the 4-2-5 defense and what we are going to make it better for 2002:

The 4-2-5 defense first came to my attention when I was an assistant at Boston College. It was and still is being played by Virginia Tech. When I coached at Oregon in 1996 and 1997, Washington was playing this defense under Jim Lambright. More recently, TCU, Western Michigan, Kentucky, and Temple are some other schools that play the 4-2-5. Oregon, in our conference, plays basically the same system except they call one of their safeties the 'Sam Linebacker.' Trust me, he is a safety.

The 4-2-5 is designed to be an 8- man front against 1-back teams and a 9-man front against 2-backs. The intent is to always have 1 more defender in the 'tackle box' area than the offense can block. What hurt us in many cases last year is that the unblocked or unaccounted for defender missed the tackle. We missed 110 tackles that accounted for over 1100 total yards last season. No scheme can be successful like that. Also, we were last in the Pac-10 in take-aways; so our defense was on the field too much. Finally, the 4-2-5 puts enormous pressure on the cornerbacks and we played 3 freshmen last year, who played like freshmen at times. Bottom line, we plan to get better on defense in the following ways:

� 8 returning starters plus several other players with game experience

� A better understanding, and more importantly a much better belief in the defensive system by the players

� We will tackle better! We have worked hard on this in both spring ball and fall camp, both from a technique and from a hustle-to-the-ball standpoint.

� We will not be last in the Pac-10 in takeaways. The coaching staff has seen dramatic improvement in this area and the players are excited about it.

� We will play more bump coverage and do some other things to help our corners be more successful. I think R.J. Oliver has become a much better player and is one of the best leaders on our team. He also has three more seasons of eligibility.

� More overall team speed on defense.

We had several questions regarding the QB position. (There's a big surprise!)

We have six QB's on our roster. Chad Christensen, Andrew Walter, Any Goodenough, Kellen Bradley, Jon Stoner, and Nate Mortensen. Stoner is a transfer from SDSU, so he is ineligible this season and will play exclusively on the scout team. Mortensen will be leaving on a two year LDS mission after this year, so he too will play on the scout team. We would love to redshirt Kellen Bradley and allow him to get stronger and learn the system. We really like Kellen. He is smart, accurate, and an excellent leader. Andy Goodenough has a lot of experience at the JC level where he threw for a zillion yards and proved that he could win games. He also has a redshirt year, and is probably our best pure passer. With only one spring in our offense, he is still learning. He understands timing and rhythm, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to give three guys enough reps to get any of them where they need to be. Chad played the best over the course of 15 spring practices. He deserves to be #1 on the depth chart at this time and has taken 90% of the snaps with our first offense at Tontozona. Chad is smart, tough and mobile. He has every intangible that you could ask for. He just doesn't have experience. I liken this situation to what Washington State went through four years ago when they went with a redshirt freshman named Jason Gesser. QB is like any other position in that the best guy has to play. Chad knows that he needs to play the best he can and I know that he will make mistakes but will improve as the season goes on. Andrew Walter is our most experienced QB and it has shown in our first week at Camp T. Andrew knows the system and has a big arm. Andrew is tough and has really worked hard at improving his weaknesses. I know that Andrew wants to get back out there and show that he is the best guy. Time will tell for everybody. Mark Helfrich (QB coach) and myself evaluate everything about the QB position everyday. Not only do we see these guys live and in color at practice and in the classroom, but we watch them another thousand or so times each day on videotape. We break down their every throw, every step and every decision. History has shown us that senior QB's usually have the most success in the Pac-10. We don't have any seniors. Do we have the next Jake Plummer? We won't know that answer until these guys get a real chance, over time, to get better on the field in game situations. And oh, by the way . . . . it wouldn't hurt if the guys around them on offense, the guys on the other side of the ball on defense, and all the guys who contribute on special teams play well. Pretty simple, huh?

Keep the e-mails coming and we will talk again next week.


Dirk KoetterHead Football Coach

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