Q&A With Quarterbacks Coach Mark Helfrich

None of ASU's assistant coaches had more anxious moments in the USC game, than coach Helfrich. Not only did he see the Sun Devils star quarterback Jeff Khron go down with an injury, but he also witnessed the poor play of backup signal caller Matt Cooper. Helfrich talks about those two quarterbacks and other matters in this interview.

DevilsDigest: Coach, we'll start with the burning question – how is Jeff Krohn's health right now?

Mark Helfrich: We'll find out in today's (Tuesday) practice for sure. It seems right now that the injury is less serious than we all thought it was initially. But I can't tell you what my expectations are of what Krohn will or won't be able to do in practice today. We'll see how he does, and tailor or game plan accordingly.

DD: If Krohn can't go, is it a given we'll see Matt Cooper as the starter?

MH: Not necessarily. We'll create competition in practice between Cooper and Walter, and we'll see who's the better performer. I'm not going to rule out Walter from starting on Saturday.

DD: Speaking of Cooper, his play against USC was disappointing to say the least. What's your take on what happened?

MH: Matt is very disappointed over his play. We both know he can play better. He always practices well and has a good attitude. If he didn't, he wouldn't be #2 in the depth chart. The plays were there for him against USC, he just didn't execute them. I can't tell why he didn't, but I can say that he understands his mistakes. So, if he does start on Saturday I do have full confidence that he'll do well. We'll just have to wait and see what happens on Saturday.

DD: What's your comment on the ugly rumors that Cooper got into a physical altercation with coach Koetter on the sidelines?

MH: I couldn't believe it myself. Like you said, those rumors were ridiculous and ludicrous. More than anything, it's hurtful because it portrays Cooper and coach Koetter in a very inaccurate manner. We have the same respect for Matt Cooper the player and person right now, as we did before the USC game.

DD: On the positive side, you must be very pleased with Krohn's play so far.

MH: Yes I am. Him and I agree that he hasn't played the perfect game yet, and we know that there's no end to the things that he can do. Besides doing well in the games, he's a great student of the game and he keeps improving his grasp of our offensive system. I'm excited to see him grow further in the future. I know that we haven't seen the best of him yet.

DD: You speak of the future, and I wanted to get your thoughts about recruiting. When Koetter was asked about his recruiting philosophy, he said that he intends to recruit a quarterback each year. With no one in this group graduating this year, are you afraid of a logjam at this position?

MH: When it comes to recruiting, you have to have the mentality that you go out and recruit the best athletes in each position. Even if you may have depth, if there's a prospect you feel can contribute in the new future and you can't pass on them – you have to do everything in your power to get them. So, we don't look at numbers at each position when we recruit. We want the best athletes out there, regardless of their position, and we do everything we can to go out and get them.

DD: On gameday, you and running backs coach Tom Nordquist sit up in the booth (as well as defensive coordinator Brent Guy and safeties coach Dan Fiedler). We all know Koetter calls his own offensive plays, but can you give us a glimpse of what goes on up there on game day?

MH: We basically act as the "eyes" for coach Koetter. We give our input as to what should be called offensively, and coach Koetter makes his calls. From above it's easy to identify trends and tendencies, whether they are good or bad, on your team and your opponent. You always have to make adjustments during a game, and seeing the game from the booth allows you to always be on top of things at all times.

DD: In closing, how are you feeling as we approach the midway mark of the season? It has been a roller coaster ride to say the least…

MH: It sure has been a bumpy ride so far, and right now things are tough. The quarterback position has gone up and down along with the rest of the team. This position, along with every other one on the team could use improvement. At this point of the season, we're not satisfied with the results by any means. We know it's a new system to all of the players, and on top of that we have a lot of first year players who are starting or playing significant minutes. You don't like to have all these trials, and you don't want to make excuses, but it's part of the growing pains the first season. You can only hope that a year or two from now the learning curve and the growing pains are minimal. I think we'll get to that point. The players are in good spirits and have a great attitude and that is key for us to our success.

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