Q&A With Coach Brent Guy

Today was not only the last Sun Devil practice in Tempe for the 2004 season, but also the last time Brent Guy, Utah State's new head coach, stepped off the Kajikawa practice facility as the Sun Devils' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. DevilsDigest spoke to Guy about the upcoming Sun Bowl, his new position, and his four-year tenure in Tempe.

DevilsDigest: Coach, preparing for the Sun Bowl and Purdue is probably more similar to preparing for a Pac-10 opponent than your typical run-oriented Big Ten team.

Brent Guy: "I tell you what, they're averaging about 55 throws a game and do a great job in the short controlled game. The guy (QB Kyle Orton) hasn't thrown very many picks, and they do a good job executing the offense and making good decisions. They don't get in 3rd and long very often. It's gonna be a great challenge for us to keep the ball in front of us, keep the pressure on the quarterback, and force him into some bad throws."

DD: When you look at the 2004 regular season from a defensive perspective, how would you evaluate the performance of this group?

BG: "We did a good job creating turnovers early in the season when we needed them. With the exception of the Arizona and USC games, we didn't allow many big plays. We did probably the best job playing as a team, and overcoming adversity when we got guys hurt. We had some guys that moved around; Jimmy Verdon for example moving inside to (defensive tackle) made a big difference on our defense. Jamar Williams converting to ‘Devil' and Emmanuel Franklin converting from corner to safety made a big difference. The senior leadership jumped at me, starting from last spring when Andrew (Walter) made the decision to stay, everything clicked from there and that was the difference."

DD: You talked about Jamar's contribution, how would evaluate the other linebackers of the 2004 group?

BG: "Going to the 4-3 and putting Justin Burks in the middle made him a much more effective player. Dale Robinson was a big surprise for us as far as being a big playmaker and blitzing the way he did. As a group it's exactly as we expected. Those guys were leading the team in tackles, getting off blocks, and making the plays."

"But more than anything what made it work was the front four. Jimmy, Ishmael Thrower, Jordan Hill, Kyle Caldwell, Gabe Reininger…those guys did a great job, for the most part, controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing those linebackers to make plays. That's what allows the 4-3 scheme to work. I never want to talk about the defense and not give credit to the front four guys. They took a lot hits for us to work."

DD: Granted, this is your last season at ASU, but which reserves and redshirt freshmen on defense do you expect to have an impact in 2005?

BG: "I think Josh Barrett will keep getting better. At the safety position Angelo Fobbs-Valentino is a great looking kid. I'm sure he will have a big spring. On the defensive line, Quency Darley will get better with more reps. Dewayne Hollyfield didn't get to play as much as we would like to. We were forced to play him; I wish we didn't have to. He's 293 pounds right now, and someone to look at in the future."

DD: Talk about you decision to accept the head-coaching job at Utah State. How did all this come about?

BG: "I've been an assistant there ten years ago, when we won a conference title and the only bowl game in the team's history. I did actually interview for the job one other time, and I knew a lot of people there. They were looking for a Division I coach to come in because they were going to the WAC, and a coach that knew the valley (i.e. Cache Valley, Utah), and obviously I fit the bill on both of those. I went through the interview process and got the job."

"The hardest thing is leaving a place after you have recruited a group of kids. But in our business transition always happens. It's a great opportunity. There's only 117 jobs in the country and it's hard becoming a head coach."

DD: This job presents itself as a great challenge, maybe one that a lot of coaches would shy away from…

BG: "I think it's a great opportunity for me. The program is down and it will take some work and time to bring it back up. But I see the shiny spots where others see the dull spots. I know what we can enhance there. I know they're very hungry to play in the WAC. They've been waiting 40 years for that, and geographically it works because they have played so many of those teams in the past in the old Big West conference. Boise State and Fresno State are on top of that league, but everybody else with a couple of recruiting classes can make it very even for the rest of the teams."

DD: During your tenure at ASU the defense had its ups and downs. Do you feel that you're leaving the program on a high note?

BG: "I think we are, because we're finishing with an 8-3 record and a bowl game. We made improvements over last year and did what we set to do in the spring. We had great senior leadership and developed a good group of players here."

DD: As we stand here, this is your last time on this practice field as an ASU coach, and you must feel nostalgic. What are your fondest memories of your four years here?

BG: "Really the thing I remember most are probably the kids, what it took to get to this point, going to another bowl game…the biggest highlight was probably having a player like Terrell Suggs and getting to coach him. But the thing you remember most are the comeback victories against San Diego State and Oregon being 21 points down, and knowing that your kids believed and overcame adversity. Those are the things that stand out the most, more than any individual thing."

DD: Thank you coach and good luck at Utah State.

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