Q&A with Coach Al Simmons

Through out the pre-season head coach Dirk Koetter has been raving about the team's cornerbacks. It is a group that is comprised of a few junior college players, a couple of redshirt freshmen and one jack of all trades. Devils Digest caught up with their position coach to get his assessment of that unit.

DevilsDigest: Coach, as the team begins its final week of preparation, how would you assess your cornerbacks group?

Al Simmons: "Things are going very well. Justin Tryon has been having a heck of a camp. It's been nice coaching Keno Walter-White, after not being able to coach him in the spring. He definitely adds depth to this group. Chris Baloney is improving. We're getting there and we're getting better."

DD: What goals have you set for this group before fall camp started?

AS: "Just to be technically sound, play with discipline, giving great effort on every snap and not giving up big plays."

DD: You mentioned the sound play of Tryon, and he's a player that Koetter has been praising quite a bit. From a technical standpoint what makes him such a special player?

AS: "He has excellent quickness, as well as very good speed. He has quick hands, moves his feet extremely well and has a very good technique. He's such an effort guy; he gives everything he has on every snap. For him there's only one way to play."

DD: How about the starting corner across from him, Walter-White? You said you weren't able to coach him due an injury in the spring, how has looked so far in the pre-season?

AS: "He's coming along well. I would still like to see him more consistent, but he's progressing well. He needs to improve just like the rest of the other corners in the group. We want to make sure that we have good depth at both corner positions."

DD: Speaking of that depth, how is Chris Baloney playing right now? He was out of football for a year, but he looks like he got back into the swing of things pretty fast.

AS: "He definitely made plays in fall camp and showed flashes of being a good football player. I like the way he's playing."

DD: Chad Green has been injured many times thus far in his ASU career. How would you rate his play right now?

AS: "His health is fine. He was banged up a little before Camp T and had some practices where he was slowed down a bit, but he's doing fine. He's improving, giving good effort and being a leader in this group. He tries real hard to do what we ask from him and fit into his role. Wherever Chad is gonna fit in the rotation, he's gonna give it his all. I like what he has done this camp."

DD: Can you speak about the younger corners coming off a redshirt year, Grant Crunkleton and Travis Smith and their progression?"

AS: "They're progressing very well. Grant has been our most improved guy in fall camp. He still has a little bit of ways to go, but he's close to being able to give us quality time on the field and I like the way he has improved, just like Travis. Travis works hard and competes, and both of those young guys work their butt off, have improved a lot and I'm pleased with them."

DD: Any other cornerback that we haven't mentioned that has caught your eye?

AS: "Littrele Jones had a setback, and really had a better spring than he had a fall camp. He hurt his hamstring, but he's fine now. He hasn't been able to do much, but I know he's a very capable player. He had the best spring out of the entire group and I'm excited to see him play back at that level."

DD: Cornerback is always considered a thankless position and that's probably even truer facing the prolific passing attacks in the Pac-10. On that note, can you talk about the challenge going up everyday in practice against one of the best passing offenses in the country?

AS: "I tell my guys that going against our wide receivers will help us get better and also help them (the receivers) get better. It's a tremendous challenge for us in practice and that's something that can only help us."

DD: Being one of the newest additions to the coaching staff, how has the transition been so far for you?

AS: "It's been great – I love it. I'm working with a great group of guys, and the whole staff has been awesome. It's a great place to be. I love the way we work and what we're trying to do. It's been a great fit for me."

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