Q&A with Coach Mark Carrier

Few would argue that the cornerbacks group has suffered the biggest loss in fall camp, when senior R.J. Oliver suffered a season-ending foot injury. The ever-enthusiastic Sun Devils' cornerbacks coach told DevilsDigest that he has been proud with how his unit has responded in light of the challenges it faces.

DevilsDigest: Coach, with the season opener just a couple days away, how do you evaluate the cornerbacks group?

Mark Carrier: "They're doing well. You can only prepare them so much, and some point you have to let them go. I think they're tired of me by now (smile). They want to see themselves and the final product on the field. They're very anxious."

DD: No coach welcomes adversity, especially in your group, which lost its star player R.J. Oliver. However, are you pleased with how the group has responded as a whole?

MC: "They've been great. It all started with R.J. – right after he got injured, he was the catalyst that put everybody at ease as to what will happen. He will be a big inspiration for us. The guys have done a good job. I haven't changed the way I prepared, and they haven't changed the way they prepared. They know a lot of guys will play, so who's ever in there will play hard."

DD: How has Chris McKenzie developed from spring practice until now?

MC: "His game is just getting better. Physically he already had it. Mentally, he's just putting it together. He's still learning, but I see the improvement every day and every week. I think like everyone else, he's very anxious to play. He has so much confidence in what he's doing right now, that he wants to see himself against somebody else besides his teammates."

DD: With Josh Golden slated to replace Oliver, how is he looking going into the UTEP game?

MC: "He's doing very well. Chad Green, Mike Davis Jr., maybe even Jeremy Payton, they will all play. Golden knows he's starting off, but all of these guys are prepared to play at any time. They all wanna play and I'm anxious to get them in there to see what they can do."

DD: What were your goals going into fall practice and how many of those goals have been achieved?

MC: "The goal is always to improve. Improve from spring practice; improve after watching film…improve so we can see how far we have come as a group. From what I can see the group has come a long way – competition level, ability to make plays, having more enthusiasm. Those are the things I wanted to see improve, and now I'm ready for all of this to start."

DD: In spring practice you came out with pads, in fall practice you had cleats on, is anybody on the team more excited than you for Thursday?

MC: "It's funny you ask that, because the players were saying ‘coach, why aren't you excited?' and I told them ‘It's the clam before the storm baby (smile)' I learned from experience that you shouldn't get over hyped. Just wait for it to happen. The bad part is now I can't get super hyped, because I have to make some (game) calls and know what's going on (smile)."

DD: Whether it's excitement or nervousness, are you gonna be able to sleep well on Wednesday night?

MC: "I'll sleep great (smile)."

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