Q&A with Coach Scott Brown

Seamless transition may be an understatement when describing the job Scott Brown has done thus far since replacing defensive line coach Grady Stretz two months ago. ASU's front four has looked re-energized in spring practice and its members have given Brown a resounding seal of approval for his teaching methods and personality.

Devils Digest talked to Brown about the spring performance of his group and his overall experience as the newest member of the Sun Devil coaching staff.

Devils Digest: How would you assess this group of defensive lineman as spring practice comes to a close this weekend?

Scott Brown: "Certainly I am pleased with the work that we were able to get done. Obviously as a coach you are always a little hesitant to ever be too satisfied and that is certainly the case with me at this point. But, in saying that, I have just been very pleased with some of the progress that has been made particularly with the younger players.

"You talk about a player like Gregory Smith who has made giant strides; Joita (Te'i) has just done a great job. Then you have the older kids that have played here for four years and really have adapted well and they have done good things for us.

"There are no aspects that I have been displeased with. Are there things that we have to work through this summer? Absolutely. There some fundamental things that every defensive lineman has to constantly work at, but I'm not displeased with anything and I mean that sincerely."

DD: As a first-year coach how much do you rely on watching last year's film on your players versus just wiping the slate clean like you have never seen them before?

SB: "I think you do that (wipe the slate clean) in fairness to your players. When I came in here, and really before I even took the job, I knew that these kids have been very well coached by Grady Stretz and were very fundamentally sound. They have been running a system here and using technique that I have been using in the past, so it has been a really easy transition and terminology has been very easy for me to change.

"Everything I have done, we started new and I had absolutely no problems."

DD: When talking to various linemen this spring, they have all mentioned your passionate style of coaching and how much harder they are working in spring practice this time around…

SB: "I really can address that because I'm not sure how exactly it went prior to that. I do know this – there is a reason why Grady Stretz is with Tampa Bay (Buccaneers). It's because he is a dang good football coach. Certainly, our personalities are probably different. I never had the pleasure of meeting Grady but hope to do so in the future. But as far as what the kids are saying…all I know is that we go to work everyday."

DD: Will Sutton has been not only the biggest spring standout on the defensive line but maybe on the entire defense. How would you rate his performance the last few weeks, especially for a player that had to sit out all of last season when it came to playing on Saturdays?

SB: "Number one, Will brings a lot of talent and I knew Will before I ever came here because we tried to recruit him when I was at my previous school (Colorado State). It has been a real pleasure to work with him. Aside from his physical abilities which are obviously quite good, what really appeals to me about Will is his intelligence and how he really uses that to his advantage."

DD: Bo Moss is your typical lunch pail player, but you would probably agree that people should not mistake that attitude with lack of talent because he is one of the most talented defensive linemen on the squad…

SB: "Bo has been a lot of fun to coach. From the first day I got here to interview he was one of the first kids I met and his personality is quite contagious. He and I have been able to develop a relationship where we work hard but we can still smile and have a good time. He is one of those kids that when he gets off the practice field, he can't get showered, dressed and fed fast enough so he can go and watch the video of the practice that he just went through. I just love that about him. He brings a lot of personality to the table everyday and I really enjoyed working with him."

DD: There is quite a bit of experience at defensive end with seniors Jamaar Jarrett and James Brooks. Can you talk about their progress in the spring?

SB: "Both those kids are very talented and obviously have played a lot of football in their careers. I was quite amazed at their athleticism for as tall as they are and both of them have been a real joy to work with. Both are just as physical as they are mobile and that's a great trait to have. Jamaar in particular is a football fanatic. He lives and breathes it, much like Bo."

DD: Speaking of defensive ends, I would have to think that you're salivating at the opportunity this fall to finally coach Nduka Onyeali who had to miss all of spring with an injury. As someone who hasn't been able to coach him yet, but obviously seen him on film and heard about him from coaches and players, what is your assessment of this young player?

SB: "Junior comes from Mullen High School in Denver and just like Will I knew who he was too before I got to ASU. So it didn't surprise me one bit to see the success he has had as freshman at ASU last year. Even though he has been hurt, he is an amazing kid. Every day he comes in and studies himself every snap he took last year which is about 420 plays. There is nobody that studies harder than he does. He is quite passionate about the game and I love that about him.

"He has done a great job of working with the players since he can't practice. He's actually helping me coach, so I found that to be a real asset to my team. It is rare that someone that young would have that much confidence in themselves to share and work with kids who are sometimes older than him. But I think our team has great respect for Junior, so when he speaks they listen simply because he walks the walk."

DD: So much has been said about Onyeali being such a stellar defensive end, and Pac-10 freshman defensive player of the year, despite his 5-11 frame. Playing that role at that stature is even rare for many high schools around the country. What do you think makes him overcome his size and be able to be as talented as he is?

SB: "We talked about his passion for the game, so that is something that you have to put at the top of the list. But to misjudge his talent level in spite of his height would be a tremendous mistake for any opponent. He is very physical and very fast."

DD: Corey Adams is another player that is one of the more talented ones on the defensive line, but sadly injuries often slow him down. From what you have been able to see from him in the spring can you talk about his play?

SB: "You bring up the injury and the thing that has impressed me the most about Corey is that he had the slight ankle injury during the scrimmage but he came back and played. He is another kid that both of us are able to relate to each other and he's a player that has shown vast improvement everyday. His desire to improve fundamentally and combine that with the athletic skill that he is blessed with - he has had some high spots there. I think he had done a good job and I'm looking forward to see where is summer training can take him."

DD: You mentioned Joita Te'i and his performance and even though you probably weren't familiar with him prior to you arriving at ASU, he must count as the biggest surprise in your group?

SB: "Joita has a lot of talent and he's someone I term as football strong. When he is on the field his strength is quite impressive. I believe he can match up with anybody. Now his youth and lack of experience is something we will work through together, but I see a great future for Joita. He is good enough of an athlete that he can play inside or outside for us. We have him inside now and that's where he will start off for us as we go into the fall.

"He's great to work with and he brings it every day and he's great in the meeting room."

DD: You alluded to the fact that some coaching styles are fierier than others. Do you think defensive line is one of those positions that probably wouldn't do as well with a laid back coaching style?

SB: "I have had that theory mentioned to me before. I'm 58 years old. I coach the way I coach. I don't know if it's tied to a position or anything like that. I know I love coaching, I love working with the kids and I love watching them grow and develop. When they do something well it gives me a lot of excitement and I like to enjoy it with them.

"I love working with our defensive staff. They are great people. I can't wait to get to work everyday because I love my job. I can't wait for tomorrow to get here to have another opportunity to work with these kids and work with this staff."

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