Koetter Likes The Team's Progress in The Spring

ASU's head coach discusses the state of the team after the first week of spring practice. In addition, offensive tackle Regis Crawford talks about his inexperienced unit and his new leadership role.

Dirk Koetter

Q: How would you assess the team's progress after one week of spring practice?

A: We're definitely making progress. I don't know if it's as fast a progress as the coaching staff wants, but we're definitely making progress.

Q: What's the biggest difference in your eyes between last year's spring practice and this year's?

A: With the amount of carry over of players, you have a fair amount of guys who know how to practice, and know what we're doing. In that aspect we're way ahead. After you drop down from that you have nothing. You have the JC guys, and kids that haven't done much last year. Even the guys that redshirted last year forget it pretty fast (smile). So, this year you're just getting both types of players, but it does help that the majority of the players were here last spring.

Q: With all the question marks on offense: quarterback, running back, and offensive line – do you feel that you're much closer answering those issues at this time compared to the beginning of spring practice?

A: In some areas, you can't solve your problems with one swoop of the pen. We're gonna be fine at running back. We have depth and talent over there. We'll have inexperience at quarterback and o-line, no matter who we start. Even if Walter was the starter, he doesn't have much experience as a Pac-10 starter. It's just gonna be a process in figuring out these positions. We're not gonna have a player in either of those positions play a perfect game against Nebraska. Offensively, we have enough weapons and real good players: we have speed at wide receiver, Mike Pinkard is having a great spring at tight end, and we have one of the best fullbacks. So we still have enough weapons to build our offense around.

Q: It sounds like you don't think it's imperative to solve all these position questions by the end of spring practice.

A: As a staff we would love to have that. But if it doesn't happen it doesn't. I can't force it. Competition helps sort that out. When you give equal reps to your three quarterbacks, in some respects it slows them all down.

Regis Crawford

Q: Regis, the offensive line has come into spring with a lot of uncertainty. How is it looking after one week?

A: We're coming along slowly but surely. Everybody is buying into their roles…The young guys are stepping up…Old guys are learning new positions – I'm at right tackle and Niko is at left tackle. I think it will be a slow progress and not an overnight thing. We can't worry about that right now. We just have to continue at a steady pace and the last few days of spring it will all sort out itself. Right now we just have to take the baby steps.

Q: Do you feel that the O-line is looking at you as a leader right now? Is that a role you are ready to assume?

A: It is a role I have been waiting to assume for a long time. It was kind of hard to step up last year with five seniors on the line, and there was no need for me to step up. But I said the things that had to be said. But now me being the only guy with any kind of playing experience and anything like that, people look to me as an authority and listen to what I have to say. They think I know what I am talking about (smile). I am giving them everything they need because we have to depend on each other.

Q: As far as the goals you're setting for yourself in spring practice, are you combining your goals as a leader and a player on the offensive line?

A: My goal is just to learn the position. If I do it well I can give myself a chance in any situation I am in – right tackle, right guard, left tackle, anything like that. I just want to learn the position. I try to stay away from goals like all Pac-10 or a superstar, because I think it will sort itself out when you leave it up to your natural ability. If I get it, I get it, if I don't, I don't, as long as I know that I tried my hardest that's all that matters.

Q: As far as the differences between playing tackle, guard, and center, you can play all of those positions, which is rare. What characteristics does each position demand and how are you able to be flexible enough to play all of those positions?

A: I guess if you want to play bad enough you play whatever position they tell you to play (smile). If you want to play bad enough, you just listen to what the coaches say. The tackle position requires speed and agility, the guard position requires more strength and lateral movement, and you need the brains to play the center position because he makes all of the line calls.

Q: As the leader of this offensive line, how important is it to you to have five established starters on the line?

A: It doesn't matter if we have a clear cut five. I ‘d rather have ten players that can go into the season and play. If we have just five players that can play and one player goes down you may be relying on somebody that really doesn't have that much experience. Right now we are just going to go with the guys who know what they are doing and try to bring everybody along to a good playing level.

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