Inside ASU Football

Aug. 7, 2003

This is the one-year anniversary edition of this column. Wow, how time flies! Over the past year, we posted 29 articles detailing what goes on 'Inside ASU Football.' Fans have responded in a big way. We have received 40,000 pageviews and over 1500 questions (although 750 were really the same 'shotgun' questions asked different ways and no, Bill Walsh did not use the shotgun, and yes I still stand by my promise to use it at least one time this season!) and it has become quite clear that we cannot get to every single one of them individually. I do read every question and try to choose the ones that could only be answered by someone on the 'inside.' Let's do a quick review of the ground rules:

  • Please don't send questions about easy stuff that can be found on the website or by calling the Athletic Department. (Ticket information, printed rosters, future schedules are all available on this website -

  • Questions or comments about poor decision-making by me or the staff go directly into the trash (even though I do read them).

  • Criticism of the players is not allowed. Mistakes will be made, we will correct them and move on.

  • Let's try not to keep asking the same questions over and over. Check the archives before asking about the shotgun or the importance of the UA game.

  • Please enter your name, address, and e-mail information as asked for. Some questions are sensitive and are answered directly and not made public. If we don't have the information, it is hard to consider it as a legitimate question.

  • Recruiting questions are always difficult if you are asking about specific players, or anything else that is not allowed under NCAA rules. Be smart!

    OK, let's move on. Some updates since our last edition:

  • QB Coach Mark Helfrich and Equipment Manager, Mark Zimmer are off the list of most eligible bachelors as they were both married over the summer. (Separate ceremonies!) Congrats!

  • Donnie O'Neal has returned to ASU as a graduate assistant coach in the weight room and we are happy to have him back.

  • Joe Kenn has added two new assistants to his staff, Liane Blyn from Boston College and Frank Wintrich, from Hardin-Simmons. Welcome! Liane recently placed third in the Professional Strongwoman's National Competition.

  • Coaches Darryl Jackson and Kevin Ramsey have returned from their NFL internships with Detroit and Philadelphia. Their experiences there will certainly help our program move forward. More on Darryl at the end of this article.

    Practice Schedule:

  • The annual Camp T scrimmage will be on Saturday, August 23 at 9:00 AM. Season ticket mail-outs listed the starting time as 10:00 AM.

  • We will also scrimmage at Camp T on Tuesday, August 19, at 9:30 AM.

  • All Camp T practices are open to the public, but due to the new NCAA rules governing 2-a-days, we will not be practicing on the afternoons of 8/17, 8/19, 8/21, and 8/22. Morning practices start at 8:30 AM and afternoon practices at 3:50 PM. Camp T starts Friday, August 15 at 3:30 PM.

  • Also, due to NCAA rule changes, we will practice for the first four days here in Tempe at the Kajikawa practice fields from 7:30 - 10:30 AM. These practices are open to the public and we will practice with the newcomers only from 7:30 - 8:45, then the entire team from 8:45 - 10:30.

  • Starting Tuesday, August 26, we will be in school and practice will be from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. These practices are closed to the public, but it is possible to gain admittance by calling the Football office and getting on the daily pass list (480-965-3429). This gives us a daily record of who is present and allows us to keep the spies, critics and agents away.

    Future Schedules

    Our future series with Boston College (2005 and 2008) has been mutually cancelled due to the uncertainty surrounding the Big East/ACC situation and changing TV opportunities. We have contacted several major universities about replacing these games and an announcement should be coming in the near future.

    Our schedule is close to being complete through 2012. Our basic philosophy is to have an 'A', 'B', and 'C' type opponent on the schedule for each year. Things get difficult when you get late cancellations (like this year with San Diego State and Central Michigan) and are then forced to scramble to find games against opponents with open dates for an individual weekend on short notice. Also, some teams we have contacted like Texas A & M are full through 2015.

    My influences as a coach:
    Jim Koetter (my dad and still the best coach I know), LaVell Edwards, Dave Kragthorpe (BYU scheme), Bob Stull (Don James organization system), Tom Coughlin (organization and discipline), Andy Reid (position coach work ethic), Dan Henning (NFL style, run game philosophy, overall program), Mike Bellotti (offensive scheme, building a program), Dan Hawkins (thinking outside the box, motivation) Vic Rowan (professionalism, film study) and many, many others along the way who have made a big difference on a smaller scale.

    ASU Gear:
    I don't know much about this, but the only places I know for sure to get ASU gear is the team shop on the lower level of ICA, or the ASU Bookstore. Old ASU jerseys are sold at random times during the year through the equipment room. Call Zim or Paul at 480-965-3935.

    Hakim Hill - fully cleared to go
    Ricky Parker - dismissed
    Nick Johnson - pending
    Ishmael Thrower - moving to Defensive End
    Chad Rosson - back surgery, out at least 12 weeks
    Incoming recruits - all qualified

    New Website:
    Starting August 18th, the Athletic Department will be supporting a new website. The 'Devils Domain' at is a free site aimed at providing customer satisfaction and insight to ASU fans. We are the first major university in the country to have this type of site that is already used by several professional teams.

    Lastly for me, we need to sell more tickets! We have four great home Pac-10 games and single game tickets are on sale now. USC, Oregon, Cal (homecoming game with a 1:30 start time) and U of A should all be huge draws and we need your help. We need to show our recruits and TV audiences what Sun Devil Pride is all about. We will do everything in our power to get it done on the field. (We need you for NAU and Utah State as well!)

    I will touch base again from Camp T. Until then, I have asked Darryl Jackson to give us a quick summary of his recent internship with the Detroit Lions.


    Summer Internship with Detroit Lions
    This summer I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a coaching internship with the Detroit Lions. The internship allowed me to assist the wide receiver coach on the field and sit in all staff meetings, position meetings and personnel meetings. As expected, I was very impressed at the work ethic and attention to detail displayed at every meeting.

    The Playbook
    Upon arrival, I received the playbook, which I had to return prior to departing. The offensive playbook was 300 pages long. I would study each insertion to know what the players were doing. Had I not studied the playbook, I would have been lost with their formations and assignments. This was like learning another language. As with me, the players spent a lot of time studying to prevent mistakes and to have a better chance during competition.

    On the Field
    On the field I worked with the offensive unit. During position drills, I spent all of my time with the receivers. I had the pleasure to work with S. Anderson, E. Drummond, A. Hakim, B. Schroeder, D. Kircus, T. Anglin, P. Brown, S. Vines, T. Taylor, 2003 first round draft pick, C. Rogers, and 13-year veteran, S. Jefferson. These men attacked practice everyday with the desire to improve and develop perfect habits.

    During the ten - fifteen minute sessions with the receivers, I would take mental notes on how C. Rogers ran a particular portion of his route, and how the four veterans would use their bodies to create space to be open. The little things you don't get to see on TV, I was able to see up close and ask questions.

    The most exciting part on the field was watching the one on one drill and seeing the competition displayed by each player. It was great to see how ferocious they compete for each ball. There were not a lot of balls on the ground during one on one.

    During 7 on 7, the competition was magnified. The margin for error was small. Being one step too late would lead to the defense intercepting the ball and taking it to the end zone.

    Moreover, it was great to see the work ethic of the veterans, and the competition of the young players trying to outwork and out hustle the veteran players. I was overwhelmed at how the young players tried to match the veteran's intensity and attention to detail.

    Off the field
    Off the field, I had the pleasure to interact with the players. With so much negative information presented daily, it was a comfort to meet so many quality men with sound core values. It is unfortunate that only bad news sells, for I met some quality men with great character.

    I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Rathman and talk about blitz protection. Coach Lewis gave me more insight into the passing game. I was able to hear all of the offensive coaches insert their part of the offense. Understanding their adjustments in the passing game was fun and enlightening.

    Sitting in the staff meetings was very educational. Listening to Mr. Millen, Coach Mariucci and the staff discuss moves and why moves were done gave me a new insight. The research and the evaluation of every practice was very thorough. I had the opportunity to learn about contracts and how players were recruited off the waiver wire, of which, with a couple of adjustments, could be used in the college setting.

    Attention to Detail
    During the staff meetings, it was truly great to see how an organization evaluates its team, and the factors that determine if a player will make the team. The factors can best be summarized as to their added value to the team. Every player must have added value to play in the NFL. For example, in addition to playing a position on offense or defense, coaches look to see how well each player is able to contribute to great play on special teams. A better illustration is the sight of offensive linemen playing on the kickoff return team.

    I also learned that the NFL has a lot of rules that are strictly enforced with fines. For example, if a player is late, he is fined. If a player misses a meeting, he is fined. If a player is late for a media appointment, he is fined. If a player loses his playbook, he is given a hefty fine. As a result, most guys arrived for meetings 10 minutes before the listed start time. As with every successful business, punctuality is important.

    Attention to detail was also seen in the tempo of practice, the athletic facilities and stadium, classification of injured players, rehabilitation for injuries, preventing heat related issues and quality of diet. During practice, everyone had to look sharp and have their shirts tucked inside their pants. There weren't any coaches or players walking between drills. The idea of 'Practice is Conditioning' was upheld by the tempo of practice.

    My overall experience with the internship was great. It was great to see the reinforcement of attention to detail making the offense work. It was great to work with former Sun Devil, Stephen Trejo. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had this summer with the Detroit Lions. I can't wait until Monday (August 11th) to teach and apply the new facets I learned this summer. See you soon.

    Go Devils!

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