Q&A with Coach Roy Wittke

Coming into the 2006 season, no Sun Devils follower would have thought that the team's rushing attack would be more successful than the passing one. You can count offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke in that group. Devils Digest sat down with Wittke to break down ASU's overall offensive performance and in specific the play of the Arizona State quarterbacks.

Devils Digest: Coach, it was certainly an inconsistent season for the offense, although they did come on strong later in the year. What are your impressions of the group in 2006?

Roy Wittke: "Because of some of the injuries and the players we were missing, especially at the wide receiver position, we changed the focus and the identity of our attack. Obviously guys like Ryan Torain and Keegan Herring did a good job for us. Zach Miller had an outstanding season. By the end of the season I think the kids had a good feel for what we were trying to get done. Finishing second in the Pac-10 in rushing the football was a major accomplishment."

DD: You obviously envisioned a different type of offense in the beginning of the season…

RW: "There wasn't going to be any change in philosophy from last year. We were going into it with the idea of leading with the pass. But you have to do what your personnel dictates you to do and get the football to your playmakers. That's exactly what we tried to do."

DD: Your coaching background was one of a more balanced attack, and not a pass dominated one like ASU has had the last few years. Do you feel that you brought that new mentality to the offense this season?

RW: "Other than lending experiences, there wasn't any mission to change philosophy. We reacted to what our personnel was able to do, making sure our playmakers got the ball, and gave our guys a chance to be successful."

DD: When you look at the struggles of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, how much would you attribute it to his own play and how much do you attribute it to the struggles at the wide receivers group?

RW: "I don't think there's any one single factor in that. It's a combination of things. There were decisions he made that he would like to have back, and we did struggle at wide receiver being young and inexperienced. You win and lose as team."

DD: Do you feel that some of his struggles was trying too hard and putting too much pressure on himself?

RW: "Anytime you get a competitor that's a natural reaction to a situation. Especially when the player is a perfectionist that wants to do well. He looks at himself first thinking what he can do better."

DD: For good and for bad, do you see a correlation in Carpenter's play and that of the wide receivers?

RW: "I think that's a hard thing to say. Again, there hasn't been one single reason why we struggled at times, no one person to blame…we struggled as an offensive unit. We require execution by all players, and we had breakdowns at every position throughout the season."

DD: The wide receivers group did finish the season on a much brighter note than the beginning of it. What do you attribute that to?

RW: "An accumulation of experience. Every week we were focusing on what those guys were capable of doing and they began to make more plays. When they experienced success, their confidence grew and they got some things done."

DD: Can you talk about backup quarterback Danny Sullivan and his development this year?

RW: "He's made tremendous progress and I think he has a tremendous future. He's picked up our system as quickly as anyone Coach Koetter has been around. He's gotten bigger and stronger, and has an arm that gives him a chance to be a fine player at this level."

DD: Shifting gears to the bowl game. Everybody talks about Hawaii's offense. What challenges do you see facing their defense?

RW: "I tell you what, they're a pro-style defense and they're physical. I know that their defense kinda gets lost with the type of offense they have, but they have an outstanding unit. They have quality personnel; they're very sound and versatile. Coach Glanville does great job with them, drawing on his pro experience. We're looking forward to a tremendous challenge."

DD: This was your first year on ASU's staff. How would you sum it up on and off the field?

RW: "I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. Working for Coach Koetter and his staff has been a privilege and an honor. It's been a learning experience each and every day, and one that will have a tremendous impact on me in the future. I'm disappointed we couldn't continue. There are a lot of fine people here and it has been a pleasure working with them."

DD: What does the future hold for Roy Wittke?

RW: "We're gonna land on our feet and do the best we can with the next challenge and the next opportunity that comes about."

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