Q&A with Coach Brent Myers

No unit on the Sun Devil squad has been hit with injuries more than the offensive line has. However, there was a silver lining is these hard times that have recently descended on the maroon and gold hogs. Coach Meyers talks about this topic and more, in this exclusive DevilsDigest interview.

DevilsDigest: Coach, with the season opener just a few days away, how do you evaluate the offensive line?

Brent Myers: "I think things have been really good, in regards to Drew's and Grayling's injuries. It made us develop other players. Examples are: Mike Pollak, Steve Berg, and Zach Krula. Those guys have responded tremendously and are doing a great job. I feel very confident playing those guys in a game. I feel that right now we have eight, possibly nine, guys that we can play at any time. Like anything else you have to get into a game situation and see how they do."

DD: Have you been surprised how your group has responded in light of all this adversity?

BM: "I'm not surprised. They're good kids, they're very conscientious, coachable, I'm very proud of them and they have done a wonderful job."

DD: When you look at pass blocking and run blocking, which aspect do you feel your group is excelling at right now?

BM: "Hard one to answer. It really depends on who you're playing. They are times when I feel that we are a really good running team, and they are times where I'm satisfied with the pass protection. So, it's a matter of putting them together back-to-back. Last night (last Friday), we had the best practice we had all fall. So, I'm hoping that both are starting to come together at the right time. We have spent enough time on preparing for what we think UTEP will do to us. With that I'm feeling very confident with how the kids have responded."

DD: Do you feel settled with your starting five going into UTEP or do you feel that changes could still come?

BM: "For the UTEP game yes. But I know from my years of experience that lineups will change because of injuries, switching guys around, finding the right mix…I feel good right now about what we're doing with Brandon Rodd starting at left guard, Chaz White at left tackle, Mike Pollak at center, Grayling at right guard, and Carnahan at right tackle. But at any time I feel very confident that Berg and Krula can come in and play. I will play them quite a bit, because I want those guys to have game experience. If something happens down the line, I know I can call on them."

DD: No coach welcomes adversity, but it sounds like it did make your group that much stronger in the pre-season…

BM: "You can look at adversity and see the glass half empty or half full. I chose to look at it as a positive, because the backup players have developed into better players. It's very unfortunate for Drew and Grayling that they hurt themselves. But we were able to develop better players, because they had to play. They had to learn, and it forced them to step up. The better the competition in practice, the better you become. For example, when Zach Krula and Steven Berg have to go against Gabe Reininger and Jimmy Verdon everyday, they get better than if they went against second or third teamers. When you succeed against good players, it raises your level of confidence."

DD: In regards to the two-tight end set, is it a system that you're familiar with and how does it impact the offensive line?

BM: "I'm very comfortable with it. I've been a two-tight end, one back guy, for years. I always believed in it. With today's high school players, they're not that many short and strong fullbacks. So, they're hard to find and recruit. There's lot of tight end body types out there. The old Washington Redskins system which is the background that I and coach Koetter have learned in, the H-Back is like a fullback in a lot of cases but he also plays an in-line tight end. He's required to learn a lot of different things. You're teaching him to play tight end and also the fullback position. I love it because it makes the defense adjust to you in many different ways. Defenses are very personnel oriented. You can line up in all kinds of different formations and have the same personnel group in the game. With the receiver improvement we had, the two-tight end set makes us dangerous in many different ways. Like anything else, we have to use our personnel in the correct way, but I think it will really help us."

DD: Coming into the season what were your goals for the offensive line group, and have those goals been achieved so far?

BM: "Anytime you go into a season, the O-line is judged by two things: the way you run the ball and how well you protect. It's always been a goal of mine to average 150 yards a game rushing. Now that is a great goal. Sometime it's reachable and sometimes it isn't. Based on the game situation it can be a tough goal to get, for example if you're behind by a lot of points you're probably not running the ball. We always like to have a 100-yards rusher in the backfield."

"In protection the goal is never to give up a sack. That's also dependent upon on how the game is. The more you run the football, the less chances you have to give up sacks. It also depends how you're playing as a team. Another thing for me is that I want my guys, whether we're throwing it or running it, to be extremely physical. That's what I preach all the time."

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