Players Assume Responsibility During Practice

The extreme weather conditions and unfamiliarity can be enough to make a newcomer's transition into the ASU program a nightmare. Luckily for Coach Dirk Koetter, his veteran players are helping smooth out the rough edges.

Koetter was pleased with the tempo of the team's second practice, and said that his squad is generally coping well with the heat. "Yesterday (speaking of the heat) was a slap in the face, but we got our work down in the right amount of time. Our veterans, Mike Karney, Tony Aguilar, Skyler Fulton, Brain Montesanto, Jason Shivers – those guys know how to work. They carry practice. I don't have to stand out there and scream. Our veterans guys are coaching our younger guys, and that's good to see."

Overall the third year coach was pleased with many of his newcomers. Koetter said that the play of signal callers Mike Affleck and Sam Keller didn't surprise him thus far. "Those two guys - that's what they're suppose to look like. They came in here well coached, and fundamentally their skills throwing the ball are pretty advanced. It shows right off the bat." Nevertheless, Koetter acknowledges the fact that the true test is still ahead of them. "There's gonna come a day where they'll get an information overload, and that's when it gets really tough on them mentally. Right now they're hanging in there, but Mark (Helfrich) is jamming stuff in everyday. Andrew is bored, Chad and Kellen are somewhere in the middle, and the young guys are keeping their head above water. When that first day hits and their head goes under water, we'll see how they do..."

Koetter said that up until now the decision to play incoming freshman Brent Miller at tight end looks like the right call. He also mentioned that it's hard right now to single out any freshmen linemen, but newcomers that did catch his eye are Chris McKenzie, Chad Green, Daniel Varvel, Josh Barrett, and Mark Washington

The imminent extension to Coach Koetter's contract will not only keep him in Tempe until 2008, but also his staff. "The assistant coaches in very general terms are tied into to whatever I'm tied into. I'm in control of that. When I'm given extension and security that gives them security too. I'm real loyal to my staff and they're real loyal to me." A coach's tenure is an issue that Koetter is confronted regularly while recruiting. "Never in my home visit am I not asked that question. That's one of your selling points – your coaching staff. It comes up in every home visit – ‘are you gonna see my son through?' When Gene (Smith) and I talked, I thought it was important that on our first evaluation day on September 5th, when people want to know what the situation is – the fact is that we're gonna be able to say that we're gonna be there is a big plus." Koetter added that this asking these type of questions reflects a trend of recruits and their family being more educated to the process as a result of exposure to the various media and the Internet outlets.

Practicing under these adverse conditions has caused some players to lose up to 9 pounds after one practice. Nonetheless, the team is making sure that their players' health isn't jeopardized. "The training staff does a great job. They give them these water bottles, and they drink so many bottles for every pound they lost. Didn't work on me however (smile)." Overall, Koetter stated that most of the team members came into camp with their required weight. "They're a few guys, and a couple of freshman who no matter what we tell them, there's kinda of an undertone out there that bigger is better. So you have some guys that check in at 315, and they need to be at 300. That's one of the things about the phase we're in right now – assignment and fundamentals. We have time. This is one of the nice byproducts of this period. We can do this extra conditioning program period, without worrying about killing a guy's legs for a second practice. So many times when you try to get a guy in shape, he's so dead for the second practice, and you don't want to lose him mentally. They're gona lift some weights this afternoon, but they won't be in the hot sun running till tomorrow morning. So those guys that are a little out of shape you can spend 10-15 minutes with them working on it."

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