Q&A With Def. Coor. Brent Guy

In a very disappointing 4-7 Football season, few would disagree that the Sun Devils defense was the unit, which drew the most criticism among fans. A new 4-2-5 scheme was met with constant growing pains, and defensive coordinator Brent Guy was the main target for the fans' displeasure. Coach Guy sat down with us to answer his critics, recap the 2001 season, and talk about the defensive outlook for the 2002 season.

DevilsDigest: Coach Guy, when that last whistle blew in the UCLA game and the season came to an end, did you have a sense of relief that a miserable season has finally come to an end?

Brent Guy: No. I was disappointed more than anything. I thought that in the last few games we started to show signs that we were improving, and that's why the UCLA loss really hurt me. It was a long and spread out season because of Sep. 11th. Losing very close games like the Washington one really sticks in your craw. But the season is done with. I'm happy to hit the recruiting trail (We actually talked to coach Guy while he was in Texas). In out recruiting efforts, we're looking for some JC kids that can immediately plug some holes for us, but mainly for high school kids who are in the mold of Jason Shivers and Lamar Baker and can play right away.

DD: In your mind, what were the main factors that caused our defense to underachieve?

BG: You have to say an inexperienced backfield, and lack of pressure on the quarterback. We need to learn to blitz better, and run over blockers or make them miss when we're rushing the quarterback.

DD: A new 4-2-5 defensive scheme was introduced this year, and because of the defense's troubles, it really came under attack. How come this defense, which is predicated on stopping the pass, was actually exposed trying to do that? BG: Our defense is predicated on stopping the run. That's why we had our two safeties' Daniel and Williams, play like outside linebackers close to the box. I really don't like calling it a 4-2-5, but rather a nickel. With this defense, there's no adjustment going from a run-stop mode to a pass-stop mode, because you're two outside linebackers are safeties too that are used to playing the pass. The safeties are really the guys that make this defense work, because they're so many little things they need to do. If they do their job, you end up having a lot of defenders around the ball to make tackles. Shivers is a good example of a safety that plays well in our system and makes tackles. We need more players like him.

DD: Aside from being the defensive coordinator, you're also the linebackers' coach. Linebacker Solomon Bates has really been maligned for his play. What's your assessment of Bates, and will he play at defensive tackle because of his weight? In addition, how would you assess the other linebackers as well?

BG: He definitely didn't have the year that he expected, and he'll be the first one to agree on that. He was playing in a new defense where he has to make a lot of plays, and clearly he hasn't done that. I'm going to sit down with him in the off-season and talk about his problems, so we can correct them. There hasn't been any discussion of him playing defensive tackle. A move from linebacker to a defensive tackle position where you play with one hand on the ground at all times, is very hard, Especially when you're asking a senior who has been playing linebacker for three years now. As far as our other main linebackers in Unck and Amobi – the defense suited their skills better. They were running the edges more, and Amobi is probably our best blitzer. But nobody in this group played well enough, and they all have to improve for next year.

DD: This first year at ASU has been very trying for you to say the least. Can you talk about how hard was it on a personal level?

BG: I just don't let it affect me. I coached this year, like I have been coaching all my years. This defensive scheme has worked for some of the best teams in the country. But we have to coach it better, and execute it better. This was obviously a new scheme, and that means that your players are constantly learning how to play it as the season goes on. We need to search for the players who can play it the best, and we were moving a lot of people around on defense. So all this makes it for a tough year, but it's somewhat expected for a first year.

DD: Lastly, what's your outlook for the future?

BG: I know we'll be much better, because we'll be in the second year of our scheme. They'll be less teaching to our players, because they're more familiar with their assignments. We are going to recruit the best players for our defense, and I'm real excited about our prospects. Our kids worked very hard this year, and if they keep on doing this it will pay off next season. We just have to learn to win the close ones, and make the clutch plays. When we do that, all the criticism will go away.

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