Q&A with Chip Long

Tight end Chris Coyle may have been one of the biggest surprises on the 2012 ASU team as he finished the season as the squad's leading receiver. Yet, with an improved passing attack, how will his production be affected this upcoming season? How have other players at this position progressed? Tight ends coach Chip Long answers these questions and more in this Devils Digest exclusive interview.

DevilsDigest: With the season opener just a few days away, how do you feel about your group

Chip Long: "I think they're coming along pretty good. They're anxious to play like everybody. Watching those games this weekend just got everyone more excited. So I think they're honing in a little bit and cleaning some things up. But there's no question that they are wanting to play a game."

DevilsDigest: Chris Coyle obviously had a huge year last season year, how has he progressed and what do you expect from him in 2013

Chip Long: "He's done a good job. He's been good in the weight room, he's got his body right and he's playing fast. It's his second year in the offense so he knows it well and I expect him to have a big year, he needs to. He better be better, that's the whole deal. Every part of his game needs to be better and he needs to elevate it to an All-American level."

DevilsDigest: Darwin Rogers is someone that had a great spring camp. About halfway through fall camp, he sustained a "ding" according to Todd Graham, how do you feel he's been able to overcome that and progress heading into the season

Chip Long: "Darwin is one of the most improved players that I've ever coached from one year to the next. It's been amazing watching his growth and it was unfortunate that he got dinged but he knows the offense well enough so he didn't really miss a beat. He came right back out here and has been playing physical and hard and it's great to see. I'm so proud of that young man for the way he's bought in and for the way he's gotten himself ready to play."

DevilsDigest: When De'Marieya Nelson arrived here in a lot has been made of his versatility and it has really shown in the last couple of weeks. Have you been pleased with his fall camp

Chip Long: "I am. He's gotten a whole lot mentally tougher and is getting in shape. He's just so dynamic with the ball in his hands, he can make things happen so we are going to get him in space and do different things with him. He's got to get more comfortable out there but he's worked his tail off to get to this point. He's never had to do anything quite like this so it's good to see him start to understand and play faster and more confident as we go along."

DevilsDigest: For as much as people talk about those three guys, not much is said about Kody Kohl, can you talk a little bit about his offseason and prospects for the season

Chip Long: "Yeah Kody is kind of like Darwin, he did a great job of getting his body right and he's moving a lot better. He's a lot better at the point of contact and is a lot more powerful. Kody is just so tough and that's why he will find a place to play. He's going to be a great player here at Arizona State."

DevilsDigest: It's been pretty evident that the passing game has improved from last year with the additions at wide receiver. Do you think the tight ends will take a step back in passing game production in 2013 considering the added threats outside

Chip Long: "No, we'll be just as much a part of it. I think now we will have a lot more one-play drives and they'll still be in the meat of it. They just have to make plays; the more plays you make the more balls come your way and that's what I tell them all the time. The good thing about my group is that they are so focused on winning a championship. They could care less about the balls, If you catch 60 balls and your team is mediocre, nobody really cares, but if you catch 40 and win a championship, you're remembered forever."

DevilsDigest: Graham has talked a lot about the offensive line and their solid run blocking over the offseason. How have the tight ends played into that aspect

Chip Long: "I challenged them to be the most physical group out there from day one in camp and they stood by it. They were the most physical group that I have coached, and I was really proud to see that. Each and every one of them has developed into a run-blocking tight end and they have to for their game, so it's been really exciting."

DevilsDigest: What are your expectations from your group this year?

Chip Long: "I want Chris Coyle to become an All-American, that's my goal for him, he needs to. He's got the stage to do it but he just needs to come in every day and work. Each and every one of them just needs to keep getting better and better, and have the best year that they can. I want them to be the best tight ends in the country."

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