Q&A with Matt Haack

Many expectations were placed on last year's true freshman Matt Haack, yet the punter did have his fair share of struggles playing is just six games. His renewed confidence has fueled his consistency and high level of play to be one of the Sun Devils' spring's standouts as he re-assumes the starting duties at his role.

DevilsDigest: Coach Graham singled you out in last Saturday's scrimmage as one of the standouts. How do you think you have performed thus far in spring?

Haack: "In the beginning I thought I showed up pretty well and got off on a good note. I kind of got my confidence up and everything. Last week I kind of hit a lull and then at the scrimmage I kind of picked it back up again. Overall I would say I'm a lot more consistent than last year, so that's good."

DevilsDigest: What are some of the techniques you have been working on to prepare you for the spring?

Haack: "I'm trying to stay with a straight two-step instead of a three-step or a two-step and a jab. I'm working on keeping my leg straight, like in the leg swing and just staying consistent."

DevilsDigest: First-year assistant coach Keith Patterson has been taking a very active role with special teams. What are some of the specific changes he has implemented in the spring and how do you think these changes have personally benefited you?

Haack: "Well he's there every single punt we have, he's over there critiquing me, talking to me about technique and stuff, giving me pointers here and there. Just little stuff like that."

DevilsDigest: Graham also mentioned long snapper Easton Wahlstrom doing a solid job snapping the ball to you in the scrimmage. What kind of improvement have you seen in his performance and how much does his improvement contribute to yours?

Haack: "I'd say the same thing; consistency, just speed and consistency is everything. Keeping it within the framework of my body, just giving me something to work with is all I can ask really. When he does a good job it makes my job a lot easier."

DevilsDigest: As a true freshman last year you came in as the starter at punter but you ended up playing just six games and punting just 16 times. Looking back was it just the pressure of being a first-year player that caused that level of performance or was it something else?

Haack: "Maybe a little bit of pressure but a lot of it was probably self-confidence, I didn't really give myself a shot that much. Another thing was just consistency. I wasn't consistent enough to be the starter the whole year."

DevilsDigest: No matter who was punting for the team that was one area that was repeatedly being mentioned as a deficiency. How hard was it hearing criticism especially when you were not playing every game?

Matt Haack: "Well it's a group effort, team effort in that category. All of his punters are trying to find a rhythm, trying to find a groove but all in all we need to take advantage of our opportunities."

DevilsDigest: As such a young player going through such a rough year, what did you take away from that season?

Haack: "Mental toughness, you've got to stick with every day. You can't give up, you've got to come in day in and day out and take advantage of the opportunities that you are given."

DevilsDigest: Generally speaking, playing on a team that had 24 first downs on average per game scoring nearly 40 points a game, it's hard to get that many punting opportunities. What kind of mindset does a punter require to have when he knows he's likely to get limited chances on game day?

Haack: "You've just got to be in the game at all times, you've got to have your head in it, you've got to stay warm on the side lines and you've got to be mentally in it the whole time. You can't just not think you're going to get in there or anything. You have to expect to punt every time you get the ball."

DevilsDigest: As well as you played in the spring you know that last year's leading punter Alex Garoutte wants to reclaim his starting duties. Does this close competition help you maintain a high level of performance?

Haack: "We definitely push each other, I mean that's good, a little competition. Overall it's just that consistency that's the big key."

DevilsDigest: Is securing a starting position in the spring your only goal or are there others?

Haack: "I want to be the best punter in the nation, I mean that's our goal, best team in the nation. Starting here would be a good start but in the end I want to be the best."

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