"I can see why we have Camp Tontozona." Says the third year coach, "At 7:30AM it was warm out here (reportedly 97 degrees). It's a tribute to what kind of condition that most of our guys came in, to get as much work as we did under these conditions…our team is in pretty good shape. But everything else was as planned this morning. A lot of freshmen weren't here this summer, so they didn't know what to expect from a heat and conditioning standpoint. It will take them a while to catch up."
Coach Koetter said that he was too soon to evaluate the new practice format, where the newcomers were out there all three hours, while the returning players joined them 75 minutes into the practice. "I haven't had a chance to talk to the coaches yet, but I think that's the best we can do for right now. I don't think we can come back and have a second session in this heat." However, even the heat and the newcomer's introduction to the practice regimen wasn't able to temper the ASU's skipper enthusiasm about some of new faces there. "We ran 40's with all the newcomers an hour and half into practice. You're not talking about track speed at that point, and Chris McKenzie ran under 4.4. So the speed and the athleticism is definitely what we thought it would be." Koetter also pointed out the two new quarterbacks – Sam Keller and Mike Affleck, as well as cornerback Chad Green and the rest of the secondary.
When we asked McKenzie about his performance today, he said: "I'm saving my 4.1 speed for later (smile) - I didn't have much to eat this morning. I ran something close to it today, and the coaches were happy." The junior college transfer says that he felt good after practice, and spending his last two years at Glendale Community College definitely helped. On the other hand, he knows he has a ways to go in feeling 100% comfortable.
"Juco and D-1 isn't the same level. I have a lot to learn…just knowing your calls, your plays, what to do when someone motions you."
Coach Koetter was asked about what the pending contract extension (until 2008) means to him. Naturally, he was very gracious: "It provides security for myself and my family. It's a great gesture by the university, Gene Smith, and President Crow wanting us to keep on doing the things we're doing. ASU has always been very fair to me…It helps us in recruiting because we can look parents in the eye and say that we're gonna be here for you." And what about the constant rumors of him bolting to the NFL? "I'm coaching where I want to coach, and I plan to be here as long as they want me." And right now, one would be hard pressed to find many people who wouldn't want Dirk Koetter in Tempe the next several years…
The Heat is On in Devils' First Practice
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