Koetter Speaks Part II

In the second part of the interview coach Koetter talks about the time where things started to go downhill for the Devils, reacts to the comments made by ex-Sun Devil players on the program, and talks about the pleasant and the not so pleasant surprises in his tenure.

DevilsDigest: I noticed you already mentioned twice the Washington game as negative turning point in the season…

Dirk Koetter: No question. If we would have won that game, it would mark back-to-back games we came back to win against quality opponents (The first win being against Oregon St.). I think anytime players are asked to buy into something, even though they'll buy in to it they need validation. The only validation in Football comes in wins and losses. We missed our opportunity to get over the hump. Some negativity, like on other teams in this situation, starts to creep in, and more problems arise.

DD: What was your reaction to comments made by Levi Jones and Scott Peters saying that they were bored in practice and they weren't prepared for the NFL?

DK: It's not our job to coach guys to the NFL. We're not a farm system. It's a great byproduct of this school, that some of the guys can leave from here to the NFL. But it's not our job to prepare them for the NFL. The other thing is, that I did talk to all the parties involved. What the individual players personally told me was portrayed differently than what was said in their quotes. I guess I may be naive and take what folks tell personally at face value. I always judge people by what they do in front of me. Let me tell you some facts about this that are interesting. Levi Jones was second team all Pac-10 in 2000. Last season he's voted first team, and voted by his peers (Pac-10 players) as the best lineman in the league. So, something must have gotten right for him. Scott Peters was first team all Pac-10 both years. Kyle Koiser went from not being mentioned, to honorably mentioned. Travis Scott went from not being on the team, to a fourth round pick. It doesn't do me any good to get into arguing about this. What's done is done.

I feel comfortable with what we're doing. We had a lineman from Boise St. drafted this year… Coach Grimes learned from Andy Reid and Mike Sherman who both coach in the NFL. I'm very confident that we're teaching them the techniques that will allow them to be successful in college Football, and some folks in the NFL thought they were good enough to play in the there because four of them were drafted. People were surprised that Levi Jones got picked in the 10th spot, and then some say that we can't coach offensive linemen. Those things just don't add up.

DD: I have to ask you about Travis Scott. Were you shocked that someone that played only 13 games in his college career got drafted by the St. Louis Rams, let alone in the fourth round?

DK: People don't realize that the scouts for NFL teams really do their homework. They look at all aspects of a player on and off the field. Coach Martz spent four hours in our film room, and his offensive line coach spent eight hours. That was just on the day that they were here. Travis has had some unfortunate things go against him in his college career, as far as things that happened off the field. People may look down at him because of those things, but they have to realize the full story because Travis was put in a tough spot. He's an excellent excellent run blocker, and he has good flexibility. He's a prospect, and the Rams are a team with no glaring weaknesses that can afford to maybe take a little more risk in hopes for big rewards.

DD: In the year and a half that you've been on the job here, what aspect has surprised you the most, and has been the most unpleasant surprise you encountered?

DK: The potential of the future here with the new facility is a very pleasant surprise. The second part to this is that with all the people I met, and I'm speaking mainly of the die-hard Sun Devil fans, I've encountered so many people who truly love Arizona State and are dying for us to have a winning program. This leads to believe me that when we do turn it around, the fans will be back in droves. It's frustrating to me that we can't wave our magic wound and go to the Rose Bowl. I also know that I'm excited about the future.

The negative is that I underestimated the depth how Arizona State as a Football program, since the '96 Rose Bowl, has underachieved on and off the field, and in the classroom. That has become acceptable behavior, and there was also the belief that we were just a training ground for the NFL. That's just a sad state of affairs. If we ever are to turn thing around, that has to stop. We have to go from a team that's perceived as underachieving to a team that's overachieving.

DD: After last season, do and your staff feel like they have a chip on their shoulder going into the 2002 season?

DK: No. That's just part of the business (being criticized). Nobody likes to get criticized over his work, but it comes with the territory. There's some things you can talk about, and some things that you have to bite your tongue over. I know we'll have an ample amount of time to prove if we're the right guys to get it done here. If we're not we're not. Every year we go by a set formula that we believe works for wining Football games. There so many things that go into this job like off the field things, injuries, academics…but let's not kid ourselves, we're ultimately judges by wins and losses. So, I'm not approaching this season any different.

DD: Would it be fair to say that with the youth and relative inexperience o the team, that 2003 should be a better year than 2002?

DK: I'm gonna worry about 2003 when it gets here. We would never do or say anything to the contrary. Each week we will field our best team and that starts on August 24th at Lincoln. You can't as a coach or a player think that next year will be better before this year even started. I know fans and the media think that on paper we'll be better in the future, but that's all just on paper now.

DD: laying your first game against Nebraska so early in the season creates an incredible amount of urgency. Is that urgency good for the team?

DK: Yes, it's very important. It's a good motivation for the team this summer. It's an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country, and gain experience for Pac-10 play. It's great exposure, especially when you're playing a team like Nebraska, and there's only one or two more games that day.

DD: Lastly, how much work is left to be accomplished in Camp Tontozona?

DK: We have a ton of work. It's actually what I have been working this morning on – our objectives for camp T. We have plenty to do, and a long way to go. We're gonna get it done here. We had a great recruiting class with 19 kids from the state of Arizona. We're making progress on the inside, and now we're eager to see all this hard work pay off on the field.

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