Hope Springs Eternal For Position Battles

For the ASU Football team, the first day of spring practice was a welcome change in pace. The vigorous lifting and the running that the players have been part of since December, will take somewhat of a back seat to helmets, pads, and the pigskin. And for some players, today signaled the first day of battle for a starting position.

With the departure of starting quarterback Jeff Krohn, the signal caller position for the Sun Devils is up for grabs as it was a year ago in the spring. The early favorite for the starting position is Andrew Walter. The sophomore has the most experience playing under Koetter's system, a fact that he believes should give him the necessary edge: " I feel real good." Says Walter "The strength program has gone real well for me. As far as Football, I feel like I do have a head start. That's real different than last year. I expect to play better, and work on the little things…I think that having more experience will work to my advantage. Getting a couple of starts under my belt last season will definitely help me out this year…Our team has bought into Koetter's system, but we can do a lot better. Everybody is into improving, and that will take shape this spring." On any possible animosity between him and his competitors, the sophomore said: "We have a very good relationship, and joke around a lot. We still can compete and have fun at the same time. We'll become even closer as the season goes on."

Redshirt freshman Chad Christensen who ran the scout team last year, is temporally listed behind Walter, but ahead of JC transfer Andy Goodenough. How does Christensen feel about his chances? "I'm anxious to get out here, and not redshirt any more. I look forward to really be part of practice. Right now we're all excited to be out here, and we'll see what happens in spring practice." JC Transfer Andy Goodenough comes with many accolades, as he was considered the best JC quarterback in the nation last year. Goodenough is now ready to back up the many praises he received throughout his junior college career: "I'm excited just to be out here. We only put on pads on Thursday, so I'll use this time to learn as much as I can. It will be a challenge to translate the playbook to the practice field, but (ASU quarterbacks) coach Helfrich, along with Chad and Andrew have been helping me out, and are real supportive…I did run a spread offense in junior college too, so in that sense it's somewhat similar to ASU. But the terminology is different and I just have to go through the maturation process to get this offense down."

Coach Dirk Koetter's opinion on this position battle is straight to the point: "Yes, they'll be a change in quarterback, and until you have someone you like, you have no one. All three will get equal reps, and I would love nothing better than for one of them to jump out and be the guy."

The ASU running back position will be another fierce battle for playing time. Redshirt freshman Hakim Hill who excelled in last year's camp Tontozona, as well as the scout team, is ready to put his turbulent off-season behind him and concentrate on being the main ball carrier for the Sun Devils: "I'm feeling great. This is where it all starts for the 2002 season. I'm just here to compete and see what happens. I thank god for where I am today, and I'm just going to get on with my life." Junior Mike Williams returns as the running back with the most experience under his belt. Nevertheless, he doesn't think he has the starting position wrapped up: "We can't replace players like Tom Pace and Delvon Flowers, but we have good players that can try and fill in their shoes. All of us running backs have to come together and play hard this year… I worked harder than ever to get better. Now we have to put everything together and play better than last season. It's a good chance for me to start, but I have very stiff competition to push me. I have to come with my "A" game and play to the best of my abilities, and I hope the coaches see that."

Granted, players use spring practice to shake off the rust and take out built in aggression. However, for most of the offensive players on this ASU team these 15 practices will serve as an audition for a starting spot. Since there's nothing to indicate that the offense won't carry the load for ASU in 2002, it's imperative for the team's success that the players selected as offensive starters will truly be the cream of the crop, rather than the lesser of two evils…

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