Q&A With D-Line Coach Ted Monachino

When it comes to defense, it all starts up front with the defensive line. A less than average performance by ASU's defense in the 2001 season could be attributed in a large part to the shortcomings of this unit. How does coach Monachino view the performance of his group? The ASU coach answers this question and others in this interview.

DevilsDigest: Coach, when the 2001 season came to an end, what thoughts were going through your mind?

Ted Monachino: We never wanted it to end. We needed more practice, and our guys needed to get better, and needed to continue to improve in the little things. All we wanted is to get more practice in before spring practice. We did have a feeling of resolve with the season that ended, but we still wanted that extra practice. I wish we had more games left.

DD: It's no secret that the defensive line, like the rest of the defense, didn't perform well. What were the key contributors to this?

TM: We had some injuries that hurt us, and maybe some of our youth showed at times. The confidence factor was probably the biggest one. At different times this season, we had confidence, and then we lost it, and just went back and forth between those two stages. A veteran Football team that has been through the wars over time knows how to deal with though periods. The confidence factor was probably the biggest one that hurt us.

DD: Are you surprised that this unit with all its seniors didn't deal well with the confidence issue, and had their play regress as the season went along?

TM: I don't think their play regressed, I think they got better every week. I'd be happy to sit down and watch film with anyone who said they had regressed during the course of the year. One thing that's evident in the Pac-10 is that it's an 11-on-11 game for 60 minutes. It's not a game where one player on any team can dominate the game. There just too many god players in and teams this league. I think the defense played as well as it can with the defensive scheme we had, and when things started to go bad we lost our focus all across the board. You have to start with my guys upfront, and I'll be happy to take much of the blame as I need to.

DD: Terrell Suggs' numbers are impressive to say the least, when it comes to sacks and tackles for loss. Did you feel that he had a good season and met expectations?

TM: The expectations that were placed on him by an awful lot of people were not as high as the ones that Terrell put on himself. I don't think he underachieved. I think he made the plays that he's capable of making for the most part all year. I know we would all love if he had more sacks and tackles for loss, but he's only one guy. But he did a great job playing the system, and he did everything we asked him to do. He's not at all interested in his numbers. The only numbers he's interested is 4-7.

DD: You mentioned that Terrell was only one guy there, which brings up the point that Brian Montesanto who played at opposite end, didn't hold his end of the bargain and take the pressure of Suggs who was doubled teamed a lot. Do you share that opinion?

TM: I wouldn't say that Montesanto, Jimmy Verdon, or anyone else playing at that end spot didn't hold their end of the bargain at all. I would say that they had some opportunities to make some plays and made them. The ability to make the great play – only a few players are blessed with that. I think both those guys are on their way to becoming great players. I wouldn't say that those guys were ready to play eight games in the Pac-10 conference.

DD: What is your take on the year our defensive tackles Townsend and Wallin had?

TM: Townsend 100% is a leader. He plays with enthusiasm, and gives winning effort in practice everyday. Wallin is undersized and was dinged up most of the year. But he did a great job staying the course, and continued to be quick of the ball and make plays that come his way. Glass got better as the year went on, but he had physical issues that didn't allow him to play the number of snaps that he could have played. When you have guys banged up without any depth, it's hard to keep your guys fresh. I appreciate everything these guys did for the program this season. It will be difficult to fill their shoes, but we need to do so through recruiting and developing the players we have on our roster. I don't have one negative thing to say about them.

DD: Would you say that replacing the defensive tackles is your biggest headache this off-season?

TM: It's a challenge, not a headache. We look forward to it. We have kids coming back that can contribute, and kids that we hope sign with us and help us immediately next year. When you go the road and recruit defensive tackles, they all ask what's your depth? How early can I play? The good recruits out there want to play right away, and it's a great advantage for us to say to them that they will.

DD: The 4-2-5 scheme would seem on paper that it doesn't affect your group as much as it would the linebackers or safeties. Would you agree?

TM: No I wouldn't. When you have 8-9 players in the box, you have a lot more guys singled (on one-to-one matchups). When you have only 6-7 in the box, it's harder for a defensive line to make plays. Our package is designed to have playmakers in every part of the defense, and have guys singled up so they can beat the block and make a play. If you can, you're a great fit for this package. If you can't, then probably another package would suit you better. I would say this package is a great one for any defensive lineman that wants a chance to make plays.

DD: What's your outlook for the 2002 season?

TM: What you can expect is a great effort from our players, that are technically sound. You can also expect players that will be leaders. We've got a long way to go, but we took great strides to get there this season. We plan to stay the course and get better in spring practice, and in our off-season conditioning.

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