Camp Tontozona Recap – Coach Tom Osborne

ASU's special teams coach summarizes the team's pre-season camp, and talks about the many new faces on his unit.

DevilsDigest: Coach Osborne, from a special teams perspective, how would you assess Camp Tontozona?

Tom Osborne: "We got a lot work done on our punt protection with our new long snapper. We got a lot better there and also with our punt coverage. Today (Saturday) was the first time we've taken live kickoff reps, and we were probably were missing half of our unit, but we made some progress. We have some younger players that redshirted last year or that are true freshmen right now, that have a chance in the long term to help us."

DD: Are you pleased with your new snapper Jason Burke?

TO: "Yes. He's right now our short and long snapper, and he has made great progress. He really worked hard over the summer, and has gotten so much better it's amazing."

DD: It seemed like the kicking in the scrimmage today was not indicative of the quality that was evident through out camp…

TO: "Well, Tim Parker did a great job punting. He did an excellent job placing the ball where we wanted, and getting great hang time. Chris McDonald will really be a good punter down the road. We're real excited about those two."

"The kickoffs weren't what we've seen in practice, but that's what they have to go through in a live situation. There's a crowd, there's noise, stress, anxiety frustration…they have to experience all of that. There's no other way to do it, than to put them in a game like situation. This is the best thing for them to learn from. I'm sure those guys didn't perform as they wanted to, but that's the only way for them to learn. You only gonna get a couple reps a game. You're not like someone on defense who gets 80 plays, and makes five mistakes and that's an OK game. If you make mistakes (on kickoffs) 3 out of 5 times, that's not good enough."

DD: Do you think this scrimmage setting affected a young player such as Jesse Ainsworth?

TO: "Jesse has been pressing really hard, and trying to do almost too much since he's been here. He's very conscientious. He's been sometimes really great in practice, and having all this pressure is just part of maturing. He's only an 18-year old freshmen. He's gonna be a great player for us. Today was one of those growing pains those young guys go through. You can't expect him to come here and perform like a junior or senior."

DD: Tim Parker has been pulling double duty as a punter and kicker. Is this something you embrace or are you apprehensive of it?

TO: "The difficult thing about guys who both punt and kick, is that it's two totally different mechanics and two different techniques. Typically, the reason that guys can't do both on this level efficiently is because of the mechanics. They can't transfer the leg swing on punting to kicking – it's drastically different. But Tim has been able to do that, and he's done real well. He worked hard in the spring and the summer kicking field goals, and he's so much better than he was in the spring. He had two 51 yarders today, and one in the last scrimmage. He couldn't have had that much leg in the spring. His consistency had gotten a lot better."

DD: When it comes to the return game, suffice to say that Josh Golden in the #1 returner for both kicks and punts?

TO: "Yes. If we did play today Josh would be our guy. Here's another guy that made unbelievable strides from a year ago. His confidence, mechanics, technique are all better. He has some great practice reps, and he has done really well. I guess in the Holiday Bowl he gave us a sneak preview of what he can do (smile)."

DD: Lastly, we know you had problems with your voice here in camp. Are you happy to go back home?

TO: "As soon as we get out of camp I get a day off, so that's good. I lost my voice for three days. I guess I should quit coaching so hard (smile)."

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