"It's hot, there's no question about that," said Dirk Koetter following today's practice. "If guys overheat they have to come out and take care of that. At a place like Arizona you have to do that. For the most part the guys that conditioned in the summer held up pretty well." Riccardo Stewart had what seemed to be a heat related cramp, while Derek Hagan was suffering from back spasms as a result of a kick to his back. Other players that sat out with unspecified conditions were Loren Wade and Quency Darley.
Gabe Reininger was ejected from practice, after reportedly hitting Chaz White after the whistle was blown. Under game conditions this would result in a 15-yard penalty, and the defensive linemen's timing couldn't have been worse. "We just got through watching unsportsman like conduct foul tape of the Pac-10 conference in a team meeting last night," the ASU head coach explained. "Gabe had about five fouls last year – my goal is for him to have zero this year. He wouldn't have made it today if he got one, he would be ejected from the game. So he got ejected from practice. Gabe has to learn to control his temper and he knows that. If he's gonna be around in the fourth quarter he has to learn that he can't hit someone after the whistle, no matter who started it."
The ASU skipper, who called the first two days in helmets as "the worst two days of the year," mentioned that team would go in shells on Monday and Tuesday, and in pads starting Wednesday when they begin their practices at Camp Tontozona. "Our shell practices vs. full pads…there's very little difference," remarked Koetter. "We don't do any full out tackling to the ground, but from a tempo and contact stand point we'll start going tomorrow. It's more scary practicing today with no pads on, because those guys still go at high speed."
The competitive periods, which were a new addition to spring practice, will resume according to Koetter on Wednesday, since they are hard to execute in a no-pads environment. "We will start competition periods tomorrow," he said, "but those competition periods still can't be live until you get into pads. With our 7-on-7 today, we probably had a little too much competition. It's not conducive when you don't have shoulder pads on."
The ASU coach remarked that he was pleased with literally all the newcomers, and when asked in specific about Zach Miller he replied: "Zach looks good. The thing that stands out about him is that so many guys that are top recruits, get lost from a learning standpoint. The fact that Zach voluntarily came over here in the sprig and sat on practice, came here in the summer and worked out…he's not your average freshman from a knowledge standpoint. Him and bother Brent, who also has looked good in practices, care about football and pay attention to what's going on." Koetter added that he was also pleasantly surprised with walk-on linebacker Nick Clapp, who is "Physically mature."
When the maroon and gold go up the hill on Wednesday, they'll be greeted with a new look. Camp T will have an additional field adjacent to the parking lot. However, the football team will continue and practice on the original field. The Women's Soccer team will be at camp at the same time, and will be regulated to the new field, in order to prevent wear and tear on the football one. The most exciting addition, at least for most of the newcomers, are the new dorms added. "Everyone moved one rung on the ladder," quipped Koetter. "The freshman trailer is no more. We put permanent meeting rooms where that trailer used to be."
In regards to the team's leadership initiatives, Koetter disclosed that the original leadership group will start giving way to the winning with character program. The Sun Devil coach said that the initial group, which represents all classes and positions, was asked to put the squad's mission statement and values in their words. "It's not a different message than we would have anyway, but it's their words," explained Koetter. "Those 25 guys in the leadership group had assignments during the off-season. Now when we don't live up to those things that they said, it makes it way easier for the coaches to come back and say ‘this is what you guys said you wanted. When are we gonna do it?' That's the main thing – it gives them ownership instead of us ramming a fancy slogan down their throats."
The winning with character curriculum was devised by an individual at the University of Idaho's Ethics in Sports department, and was constructed after a 25-year research of the military, Olympic teams, and athletes on all levels. The program is already being used by the University of Georgia, and the University of Maryland will join ASU in implementing the program this year.
"All the character issues that come up in sports, they customize it to your situation," Koetter said of the new program. "If we're talking about a certain quality we want our players to emulate, they thought us how to teach it to our players. They use examples such as Pat Tillman – how can we work things from our history in." Koetter said that the program was purchased thanks to an anonymous donation in the sum of $25,000, and contains 40 15-minute lessons that will be taught Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.
Heat and Heated Emotions in Sunday's Practice
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