ASU Coaches Recap Pre-Season

During the last week DevilsDigest sat down with a few of the Sun Devil assistant coaches to get their insight on their respective positions. The following are interviews conducted with Safeties Coach Dan Fidler, Offensive Line Coach Jeff Grimes, and Wide Receivers Coach Daryl Jackson.

Safeties Coach Dan Fidler

DD: With the season opener around the corner, how would you evaluate the safety position?

DF: "We really had a good camp, especially the main four guys Fawley, Hudson, Shivers, and Stewart. They were outstanding. The issue now is developing depth behind them. Obviously, Lamar (Baker) and Joey (Smith) have been slowed by nagging injuries, which have given the opportunity for other guys to get reps. J.W. Lucas has made a lot of progress, and two true freshmen Josh Barrett and Daniel Varvel have just been awesome. They have a great future ahead of them. All three really showcased themselves."

DD: Jason Shivers has been the leading tackler in his first two seasons at ASU. Do you feel that he has elevated his game even more this year?

DF: "I think everyone elevated their game. They're a lot more football smart, they can recognize formation sets; they know it's their time to shine. I couldn't be more pleased with those guys right now."

DD: Much has been said about Brett Hudson and his overall improvement during the off-season. In your mind, what in specific helped him take it to the next level?

DF: "He has everything we're looking for in the safety position. He has great size, great speed, and great athletic ability. He was very raw coming to us, because he was at a junior college and he wasn't as developed as he should be. Plus, he played receiver there. He's been phenomenal in practice, and he should have a great season."

DD: Riccardo Stewart has been held of some of the practices and scrimmages the last two weeks. Can you update us on his situation?

DF: "He's fine. There are no issues with him; everything with him has been precautionary. He practices so hard, it's good to keep him out anyway and give other guys reps."

DD: Matt Fawley is the fourth safety on the team, but could probably be the starter on many other squads. Do you sense that he may be frustrated?

DF: "He's gonna play. There's no doubt about it. We have a lot of guys that can help us win games, and he's one of them. The more guys you have like that the better chance you have to win games week in and week out. Competition is good for everyone."

DD: You mentioned the fine play by Barrett and Varvel. Have they surprised you with their ability?

DF: "The biggest surprise with them is the maturity level, and the learning aspect. When we saw them on tape, and saw them play basketball, you saw a lot of athletic ability and a lot of lateral movement we like to see with our safeties. They really ready physically, but they surprised us in how mentally ready they were."

DD: What were your key areas you wanted the safeties to improve on, and do you think you accomplished that?

DF: "The main thing was to continue to stay motivated, work on the little things, and be coachable. This group has done a great job in all those areas. All of them have gotten bigger, stronger, and faster. I'm looking for a great season from all of them."

Offensive Line Coach Jeff Grimes

DD: With the pre-season coming to an end, how do you feel about the offensive line going into the 2003 campaign?

JG: "I feel good about where we are. It's always a lot easier when you have guys that have experience. We're further along in terms of our knowledge of the game and technique. We're still trying to work a few guys in different positions, and cross train guys so you have your best players on the field in the event of an injury. We're still playing with some things, and still have work to do before we're ready to play like I want us to. But I'm really pleased with the group's effort."

DD: Two of the biggest repositions in the off-season were moving Drew Hodgdon from right guard to center, and Regis Crawford from left tackle to right guard. Now that you had time to evaluate these moves, are you pleased with the results?

JG: "Absolutely. Drew's best position is center. He's also a good guard, but he can help our team the best playing at center. And Regis can help our team the most at guard. Last year, there was no doubt and we knew all this at the beginning of the season that Regis was playing out of position. But we had to, because we didn't have any tackles that were ready to play. We're a lot better off with those guys and where they're at right now."

DD: Folks watching on the sidelines probably have their heads spinning non-stop seeing the revolving door between Andrew Carnahan and Chaz White at left tackle, and Tim Fa'aita and Tony Aguilar at left guard. How hard has it been to try and juggle reps for all four players?

JG: "I think that if you want to have a good offensive line through a 13-game season, you better plan on more than five guys playing. If you think you'll through the entire year with the same five guys playing, with the way the game is played now – you're kidding yourself. That (the revolving door) doesn't bother me, as much as putting somebody in a game that isn't ready. The situation we have right now is actually good. We have several guys that are playing, several other young guys who are getting a lot of experience. Whenever the situation comes up and other guys have to play, we'll be better for it."

DD: The offensive line came under a lot of criticism last year for its play. Are you a believer in playing with a chip on your shoulder and proving people wrong as a source of motivation and improvement?

JG: "No. I don't worry about what others may say. The only goal for us is to win football games, and for our group to play as well as we can each year. What other guys say outside our program about our offensive line, our team, our coaches – I've learned in coaching that you waste a lot of time and energy worrying about that stuff."

Wide Receivers Coach Daryl Jackson

DD: How would you assess your unit as the pre-season comes to a close?

DJ: "We're practicing very well. We still have some wrinkles to iron out, and make sure that we have enough depth so if something happens we're ready to step up. One great thing about playing that first game is that everyone will understand what it takes to play at this level because we're a young group. We need that exposure, and we need that experience. They're gonna get out and compete against kids that are hungry to show them that they can play ay this level as well. I'm just looking forward to the competition."

DD: Speaking of this young group, can you talk about the leadership that your veterans Skyler Fulton and Daryl Lightfoot have provided?

DJ: "Those two are definitely the leaders of our group. There's no mistake about that. Just like I talked to some other people about them, they're doing a great job with the youngsters in our group, and getting them to understand that on game day it's a lot different. We're starting to put as much pressure on them in practice now, so when they get into that environment, the game is slowed for them. Right now the game is still going 100 mph."

DD: The most pleasant surprise of your unit has been the ascend of Moey Mutz, who has come from being a walk-on to a second teamer. You must be very pleased with his progress.

DJ: "He's been doing extremely well for us. He was one of the few walk-ons that actually stayed after he came here. He's the second fastest receiver on our team. He can stretch the defense, catches the ball extremely well, very studious – understands the game. We'll see what he can do his first game and get there in the fire."

DD: Derek Hagan had had a rough pre-season for the most part. How do you evaluate his play as we enter the 2003 season?

DJ: "Derek Hagan has rebounded very well, and has rebounded from the earlier practices in camp. He really started coming on strong the later part of Camp T. We're looking forward to see him get ever better."

DD: Terry Richardson was last year's MVP of the scout team. How ready is he to contribute this season?

DJ:"Terry is coming along. He has a good understanding of what we're doing offensively, and is starting to understand the concepts that are going around him. He's starting to find out what it takes to practice and play at this level."

DD: Rudy Burgess has been very strong right out of the gate. Do you feel he's ready to play in 2003?

DJ: "Rudy is very mature. He's silent one in the group, but he does have a great understanding of what's going on within the offense. As we continue practicing we'll find out how much he can handle, and keep on going from there."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories