Q&A with Jackie Shipp

There is little doubt that no position on Arizona State's squad has lost more talent from the 2013 season than the defensive line did. How will the Sun Devils compensate for those losses and can some of its returning players fill the void? Devils Digest caught up with ASU's defensive line coach, Jackie Shipp, to discuss that topic and others.

DevilsDigest: The 2014 recruiting class saw five defensive linemen added to the team to compensate for the loss of the several outgoing seniors from last year's team. How confident are you that these additions will be able to fill in some major voids left behind?

Jackie Shipp: "I'm very pleased with these new players. The biggest thing now is getting them here on campus. There is some great talent on paper, but I will be more satisfied once they have stepped on campus going to school and starting practice. I know all those guys coming in have an opportunity to make an impact and I sincerely mean this. All of them can help us next year."

DevilsDigest: In all of your years coaching have you ever had to replace so many linemen in one year and what are the challenges this presents?

Jackie Shipp: "I don't think I ever had such a situation, and the challenge that it offers you is that you still have some young guys coming back that you have to be confident that they can step up and play and a lot of the new players will have to come in and play right away too.

"We really have two experienced players coming back in Marcus Hardison and Jaxon Hood. Everyone else is going to have to get ready a whole lot quicker, because a lot will be thrown at them in their first year of college football not only physically but mentally. They need to be ready right away so they can add depth. When you coach them you have to get them ready and hit them with a lot of things but also not put too much on them so they can still feel comfortable and be ready to play. You have to start out at 70 miles per hour and then build them up to 100 miles per hour to get them ready.

DevilsDigest: Is there something to be said that starting with so many new players offers a clean slate and is perhaps less negative that it seems to be?

Jackie Shipp: "I don't think having so many new players is an advantage or disadvantage. You always want to have talented players that can help you and you have to coach them so they learn their new roles quickly and contribute to the team."

DevilsDigest: Can you discuss the performance of the two returning players Hardison and Hood? Both were probably expected to have better seasons than they did in 2013…

Jackie Shipp: "I expect Marcus to grow and to have a great year. He came in the summer basically straight into fall practice. So everything was brand new and he had some guys with experience in front of him that were playing well. So he didn't get a chance to play a lot of times but he did get on the field in passing situations. So he was learning last season but I saw him make improvement and I think he will have a better year his season.

"Jaxon started the first two games before he hurt his hamstring. Davon Coleman took over and Davon had a good year. Jaxon was healing and trying to find his way back to the starting lineup but Davon played very well. Jaxon has two years of experience and started a lot of games."

DevilsDigest: You never want to change your scheme if it's a proven one, but with so many new faces do you see yourself making some adjustments to fit your personnel?

Jackie Shipp: "We won't be changing the scheme whatsoever. These new players were recruited based on their physical ability and their ability to play in our scheme. They have what we are looking for mentally to play the scheme. When you recruit you want to land the guys you know can play your scheme and those players chose Arizona State based on the scheme they want to play in."

DevilsDigest: Wanted to touch on some players who are coming back, but seldom played or even redshirted and see how you expect them to contribute in 2014. Let's start with Mo Latu

Jackie Shipp: "I'll tell you what, so far in winter conditioning and mat drills Mo is doing a very good job. His endurance is better but needs to lose more weight. We are trying everything we can to get him to do that. He is making progress and we know he has a lot of ability. If he loses weight Mo has a chance to be a special player. He does have a very good attitude and is working hard. We'll get that weight down and we'll see how he progresses in the spring. "

DevilsDigest: It may have not been the original plan to redshirt junior college Demetrius Cherry last year, but what do you expect from him this season?

Jackie Shipp: "When he first got here he weighed 232 lbs. and now he's up to 295 lbs. He's carrying his weight well in winter conditioning. He needs to do well in spring ball where he will be more involved from a scheme basis than he was in fall practice. So this will be an important spring for him and he will help us most definitely and we are looking forward to that. He can play the 3-technique or 5-technique and can play even a 1- technique. So he can play all three positions but mostly inside at the 3 of the 1 and outside at the 5 at times."

DevilsDigest: Corey Smith as a true freshman was less of a surprise redshirting but what do you expect from him in 2014?

Jackie Shipp: "It's the same thing with Corey. Being new on the team he wasn't that involved in fall practice but now he will be more detailed in the scheme in the spring and getting ready to play. This is his time as well to get on the field and show what he can do, learn and adapt. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the spring. I don't project Corey to be a 1-technique, so he's more of a 3 or a 5-technique."

DevilsDigest: With spring practice just over two weeks away what is on your to-do list for the defensive line?

Jackie Shipp: "Like very spring we will be working a lot on technique and fundamentals, and make sure the players understand it and have confidence is using it. Getting technique and fundamentals down will always improve you as a player. We need to have them have a better understanding for the game, make sure they understand angles and blocks, formations and those kind of things.

"This will help them improve mentally because it's amazing when you actually understand why you're doing something you don't only improve mentally, but also physically and that is very important for those guys right there."

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