Slow Start Ends with Defensive Dominance

The humidity was on the rise on Sunday morning, but the first fall practice in shells didn't necessarily bring much intensity with it. Nevertheless, towards the conclusion of practice the pace did pick up on one side of the ball.

"We were a little lethargic when we started," said Head Coach Dirk Koetter. "Media day is over and newness part is over, the reality comes back, and guess what? Football is hard. It's Sunday morning, and when I came to practice I didn't see one person between the ICA building and here (the practice field), because everyone is out doing something else."

"The players are young guys and they have a tendency to say why this is hard? Guess what? We make it hard on them. We got off to a slow start, but at the end I thought the defense, as it should be this time of year, was aggressive and enthusiastic. All you can do is to chip away at it. We made progress." Once again Koetter highlighted the play of linebackers Dale Robinson and Jamar Williams.

The football program has gained a credible reputation for having its walk-ons be awarded scholarships shortly after they joining the team, as they become productive members on the squad. This year is no different. "Nick Clapp, Littrele Jones, and Rodney Cox are all on scholarship," stated the Sun Devil skipper. "All those guys will helps us."

In regards to any new walk-ons making a mark and possibly being awarded a scholarship, Koetter said that it's a little early to tell right now who's those individuals will be due to the natural high turnover. He did however mention walk-ons from last year that are doing well. "Steve Bisnett is already starting on two special teams. You have Alex King, Jeff Gray, Mike Meritet, Tashaka Merriweather…those guys bust their butt everyday. We have good walk-ons."

The NCAA mandates that when two-a-day practices take place, that only one of the sessions can be in pads (the other ones are in shells or conducted as a walk-thru). When asked for his opinion on this Koetter replied: "It's the rule. It's not the way it worked in the (Frank) Kush era, but the medical people have determined that's the way you have to do it. These guys are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever…I don't debate that fact. That's the rule and I play by it."

Koetter mentioned two aspects that will be done differently in camp this year. "I thought it was important that we start camp with a two-a-day (Tuesday's morning practice will be in Tempe, while the afternoon session will be in Tontozona)," he said. "I thought it was always silly that we went up there and started with a one-a-day. A lot of people told me that it was important to them to have a Saturday scrimmage. If that's what they wanted and the schedule works out…it wasn't easy to do but we got it done."

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