Q&A With Cornerbacks Coach Ron English

The season's forecast for the young and talented cornerback group was one of gloom and doom. However, cornerbacks coach Ron English never doubted his group in the pre-season, and at the mid-point of the 2001 season the corners are hardly the Achilles heel of an ASU defense who had had a roller coaster ride this year. In this interview, English addresses his cornerback group, and other issues.

Q: Coach English, can you give us your take on the corners play against Washington? It looks like the halftime adjustments were very effective.

A: In the first half we gave up some big play between the 20's. Some of the scoring drives by Washington were when they started the drive inside our 20-yard line. We need to have the mentality that we if we give up any points, it should be field goals and not touchdowns. We played better in the second half, but on their last drive we gave up some big plays which helped them win.

Q: I wanted to get your assessment individually on some of our cornerbacks. Let's start with R.J. Oliver. He probably had his best game of the year against Washington, and really hasn't lost a beat after he got suspended for a couple of games.

A: Yes, he did play his best game of the season. His suspension made him realize how much Football is important to him, and he has been playing better ever since he came back. Even though he played well against Washington, he did give up a big 23-yard passing play on the last drive. So, just like all of our corners he can play better.

Q: The other starting corner Emmanuel Franklin has been battling injuries all year. Has he played well through those injuries?

A: Emmanuel played great against Washington, and has been really playing well so far this year. It's a shame that he has been battling injuries all the time. You'd like to see what he could do when he's healthy. I know he could even play better if he was healthier than he is right now.

Q: Lamar Baker has made a pretty successful transition from high school to college, and played well while Oliver was suspended. How would you grade his play so far?

A: I'm very pleased with his progress so far. He also has been injured, so that has affected his play. When he was given the opportunity to start he did play well for us. Just like Emmanuel, you'd like to see how well he could play when he's healthy.

Q: Junior college transfer O.J. Hackett may be one of the veterans of this young cornerback group, but hasn't made much of an impact so far. What can he do to improve?

A: O.J. need to get stronger and faster. Also from a mental standpoint, he needs to understand the game better. If he does all those things, he can contribute more to this team.

Q: Before the season started you had a very lucrative job proposal from Notre Dame, how close were you to accepting that job? And on that note, how hard or easy was the transition for you from being the lone holdover from Bruce Snyder's staff to being the only coach on Koetter's staff who has never worked with him in the past?

A: As far as the Notre Dame job goes, it was real close for me accepting this job. I stayed because of Dirk Koetter and his staff. They have made me feel very comfortable. I got my Master's at ASU (in 1995), so I love the school; I love the team, the staff, and the players. All those factors helped me in staying at ASU when coach Koetter came aboard.

Q: What are your thoughts facing Oregon this week? Quarterback Joey Harrington and his receivers are one of the best in the confrence.

A: We will have to play our best game of the season to win in Eugene. There's a very fine line between making plays that can help you win and not making those plays. They are a great passing team, but if you put yourself in a position to make plays, you will always have a chance to win. There's a small gap between the teams in the Pac-10. So while Oregon nay be one of the best teams in the confrence, we know that if we play better we can come away with a win.

Q: Lastly, how would you rate the cornerbacks overall as a group? Right now you're ranked in the middle of the Pac-10 as far as pass defense, and your unit has been silencing some of naysayers who didn't give the ASU cornerbacks much chance of competing in the confrence.

A: The cornerbacks are improving every week. It's a shame that most of them are banged up right now. We're doing a pretty good job preventing big plays, but we have to come up with more turnovers each game. That's one area where I would like us to improve right away.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories