Q&A With Coach Monachino

No defensive group on ASU's team has changed as many faces from last season, as the defensive line did. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview we sat down with defensive line coach Ted Monachino, and talked about the apparent improvement of Terrell Suggs, the early rave reviews of true freshman Nick Johnson, and the move of Brain Montesanto from end to tackle

DevilsDigest: With Camp T coming to an end yesterday, how would you asses the defensive line so far?

Ted Monachino: I'm really pleased with the way they're playing as far as tempo and urgency. We still have to improve on a lot of things technically, but I think we're moving in that direction. My group is learning real well, and is ready to work. It's nice to get back to one-a-day so we can get guys healthy and go full speed getting ready for Nebraska.

DD: Much has been written and said about the hard work that Terrell Suggs has put into his off-season conditioning program. When it came down to play to playing Football, have you seen an improved player?

TM: I think physically he has improved. Mentally, because of the physical improvement he decided that he's strong enough to take some chances that we really don't need him to take. He's a good Football player, and he doesn't have to prove anything when he walks out there. Because he added a lot of strength he's taking a lot of chances he doesn't have to take.

DD: When we talked to you previously, you were always very high on Nick Johnson. However, did he manage to blow you away with his fine play during camp?

TM: What has blown me away is his maturity, and his ability to pick up things quickly. All three of those freshman and Matt Mason have been able to keep up with what's going on relatively simply. But as you can see Nick is a little different animal than the rest of them.

DD: Can you talk about the move of Brain Montesanto from end to tackle? How has it been working so far?

TM: He loves the move. We love the move. It has made us tougher and more athletic inside. We got one of our four best defensive linemen on the Football field a lot more. He was an 11-game starter for us last year as a sophomore, and he needs to play. It's not a knock on the guys that we're fighting for his tackle position, but we needed to find somebody that can make some plays, and Brian is that guy.

DD: Can you talk about the other two freshman, Ali Likio and Ricky Parker, and their play so far?

TM: Ali is still working with the second team. I'm planning on playing him right away, just because when you find a big body like that who can move, pick up some blocks, and asked to make plays when he has to you have to play him – those guys are difficult to find. Ricky has done a great job effort wise with a lot of things, but I think that at times things have been moving a little fast for him. We're gonna bring him up slowly, and if he's ready to play by week two or three then we'll get him in there.

DD: Would you say that the defensive line is looking better now than it did at this time last year?

TM: I don't know that it looks better, but it certainly looks different. We've got guys that can really run at all four positions. Even our big nose tackles can really move their feet for big people. I wouldn't ever say better, because that group of seniors was a hard group to beat. When you line that group including Danny (Masaniai) when he was still considered a senior, that's a tough group for our current tackles to stack up against. But we are a little more athletic, and a year more seasoned.

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