Q&A with Coach Brent Myers

2005 was a serious test of character for the O-Line, who had a plethora of injuries, and counted often on several backups to carry the load. Not much has changed in 2006. Yet the Hell Hogs grinded it out, supported an explosive running game and were a formidable pass blocking unit. Devils Digest talked to their position coach about their play this season and what they expect from Hawaii's defense.

DevilsDigest: Coach, it's probably fair to say that 2006 was a cruel Déjà vu of 2005 in terms of all the starting offensive linemen going down with injuries…

Brent Myers: "It's true. We had a few injuries, but you have to deal with it because it's part of the game. It was very emotionally difficult for me when Andrew Carnahan got hurt, and even worse when Steve (Stephen Berg) got hurt. Those guys put so much time in this place. But you have to move on, keep on coaching. Thank goodness the backups played well and we did OK."

DD: Do you think there were some resiliency lessons learned last season that came in handy this year?

BM: "No question. They (the backup players) all know that it can take one play and you're playing. The credit goes to the backups that got themselves ready to play. Julius Orieukwu did a great job; Richard Tuitu'u did a great job in the Arizona game, when Brandon Rodd couldn't go. Paul Fanaika did a fantastic job and became one of the better players in the league. We were very fortunate all those kids very resilient. We ran the ball well and for the most part (pass) protected pretty darn good. Everything turned out OK I guess."

DD: We talk about all these younger backup players on the line doing well, but the contribution you got from your veteran center Mike Pollak in 2006 must have been invaluable…

BM: "He's a stud. A great one. He spent enough time behind Drew (Hodgdon) and Grayling (Love) and learned a lot from those guys. The good thing for him was that he had to play some guard and when those guys went down he had to play (center). He really was the rock this year, I'm really proud of him and he'll be even better next year."

DD: Can you talk about the team's run blocking and what you think help take it to the next level in 2006?

BM: "I would attribute it (the improvement in the running game) to a few things. I think the emergence of Ryan Torain was really good. I also think Keegan Herring improved greatly. You put Dimitri Nance in there and the end of game and he's pretty darn good too. So overall the play of the running backs was better. They did a good job of getting yards after contact. Every play, there's always gonna be a guy you can't block…against UCLA we had 15 runs where the first defender to make contact with the running back was a safety. That's attributed to a good job in the front."

"The offensive line got better in run blocking because we had to emphasize it a little more, because we were really inexperienced at wide receiver. We invested more time in implementing different kinds of run that fit our players better, and that's a tribute to Dirk Koetter. He was very smart with who he substituted during games at the right time."

DD: Do you feel that somehow the inexperience at wide receiver made it harder for the offensive line to protect Rudy Carpenter?

BM: "I don't think so. You're gonna get blitzed, pressured and a variety of other things from teams in our league. Teams do a lot of different stuff. It's fun when you have guys that can go vertical like we did last year. When do you lose that vertical stretch people play more zone against you and less blitz. Conversely, when you're not quite as good they blitz you more, and that makes it harder. "

DD: Last year you came close to inserting Shawn Lauvao and thus burning his redshirt year. Hoe close did Saia Falahola come to that scenario and how did he play in practice all year long?

BM: "To be honest with you, it was never close (to not redshirting). We had enough depth to move guys around if something happened. Saia did a good job and will be a good player. He's very explosive and very quick. He's a powerful young guy that will only get better. It's good for him that he didn't play because he learned a lot about things like adjusting fronts, and knowing what his targets are. He will be coached differently in the future, terminology will be different and that's normal. But they'll be a lot of carryover from what we did to what Coach Erickson does and what Gregg Smith will teach them. I told my guys that they are gonna get coached by a great O-Line coach. Gregg is really good. If you give him every ounce of effort like you gave me, you'll be very successful."

DD: So much has been said about the Hawaii offense, but what kind of challenges do you expect the offensive line to encounter from the Hawaii defense?

BM: "They're a 3-4 team and bring a variety of blitzes. They're not afraid to bring pressure, and we've practicing like crazy for that and we have to continue doing it. Coach Glanville, their defensive coordinator, will bring one blitz from the field, another one from the boundary and he changes up a bunch. He gives you multiple looks and never sits still. That's what makes it tough and makes for interesting challenges."

DD: What does the future hold for Brent Meyers now?

BM: "Right now I'm not sure. This is a tough situation that I've never been in before fortunately. And we say now among the coaches – ‘we're dead men walking.' It's the nature of the beast, I can't say I agree with the decision, but I also know it's a business. It's tough on your family, tough on you, and you have to keep your options open, and hopefully I'll get to continue to coach college football. You never know…"

DD: You must have a lot of satisfaction with what you accomplished here at ASU…

BM: "I sure hope so. I want my guys to know that they've done a great job for me and that I've been nothing but proud of their effort level, commitment, intensity, want to learn and get better…they've been nothing but awesome to me and I love these kids. It's hard to leave them, no question about it. But like I said, that's part of the business…"

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