Koetter Hails Friday's Practice as the Best

The first two weeks of spring practice have been more eventful that anyone could have imagined. However, matters have settled down somewhat as evident by the words of the ASU coach and his players, who were content with Friday's session.

"Today was probably our best practice of the spring," said Koetter. "I was very pleased with how the guys came out today. They had excellent energy. Good practice tempo and good execution. This wasn't a tackling practice, that will be tomorrow (Saturday) at the scrimmage."

When asked if he expected the team to rebound so quickly from the tragic events of last weekend he replied: "There's no expectation. We didn't practice very well on Monday and Tuesday. We practiced better today and I'm happy with that…there are things going on obviously. Every person out there is different, and we're not expecting everyone to be on the same emotional level. These guys still have to go to school. We still have to practice football. Things have to get done and we have to do the best we can. There's no guidebook to what we're doing. I'm proud of my guys for the way they're doing it."

The Sun Devil skipper applauded his assistants and their effort in these turbulent times. "The assistant coaches have been doing a nice job of doing their work" he commented. "They're people too, and they have their own way of dealing with things. There has been a lot of things work wise that have been going on: recruiting, spring football, teaching, breaking down video tape, meeting with players, academic follow-ups…the coaches have been trying to take care of their business."

Typically, every Saturday practice at Sun Devil stadium has a scrimmage portion to it, and tomorrow will be no different. Koetter detailed the format: "We will practice eight different situations. We'll practice 1's vs. 1's, 2's, vs. 2's. We'll have between 30-35 live reps with each group. We'll break up the hitting with some teaching tempo and some drills. We'll play with officials and a game clock, which will be really good for Sam and Rudy at quarterback. It's a chance to go to Sun Devil stadium which is always nice to go there."

With the dismissal of Loren Wade, questions have been raised by some as who will take the reins at starting tailback. For Koetter, that choice has been crystal clear. "Rudy is our tailback," he said. "Look at the Sun Bowl. He was arguably the MVP. The media is talking about who our tailback is. In my mind, Rudy Burgess has been our tailback since he took it over." Koetter added that all of the injured Sun Devils are "progressing", and he is hopeful to have them ready by June 1st when the summer conditioning program begins.

Quarterback Sam Keller is naturally thought as of one of the team's leaders, and thus was asked about the pulse of the team these days. "It's gone fine as far as football," he remarked. "I'm the leader of the football team on the field and the guys rally behind me. Out here is our chance to get better. If I set the tempo the guys will follow. Spring ball is a good time to build chemistry. The offense is doing well, and the offensive line is playing outstanding."

Keller has two new faces in the receiving corps: Nate Kimbrough and Michael   Jones. He offered his opinion on both: "They're trying really hard," he said. "They're wide-eyed and trying to learn, which is good. You can give them positive feedback when they do something right, and when they do something wrong it gets to the point where they know it right off the bat and make improvements on their own. I of course can go over and help them out. They're hungry, which is good. It makes them better and makes the guys ahead of them better."

Wide receiver Derek Hagan concurred with Keller's observations. "Nate and Mike are doing really good," he said. "They're working hard, they're in the meeting room watching film, making sure they can get better and move up on the depth chart. Every guy has to work hard to keep their spots." Hagan added that there's no sense of newness having the ball thrown to him by Keller. "Sam and I have been working together for the past two years," he explained. "Sam throws a real pretty ball, and throws just as hard as A-Dub (Andrew Walter)."

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