Q&A with Coach Rich Olson

With spring practice winding down, Devils Digest sat down with ASU's Offensive Coordinator to get a report on the state of the Sun Devil offense.

DevilsDigest: Coach, with just the spring game ahead of us how do you feel about the ASU offense right now? Rich Olson: "I feel good about it. I think the kids have taken well to what we're teaching them, both in the running game and the passing game. I'm excited to see them play as a unit Saturday night (in the spring game). The quarterbacks aren't live, so until they get hit and see what kind of reaction they will have…we still have a ways to go."

DD: Are you pleased with the offense's progression and is this group where you wanted it to be at this stage of spring practice?

RO: "I'd say yes. For what we've given them, and we've given them a lot…we cut it back just for the spring game, because we're trying to eliminate as many mental mistakes as we can. I'm impressed by the running backs. I'm impressed by the young wide receivers. I'm impressed with (tight end) Brent Miller. The offensive line is big and strong. Rudy (Carpenter) has done extremely well…I think we've done well up to this point."

DD: Many think that this new offensive scheme is tailor made for Carpenter's abilities. Would you agree with that?

RO: Well, he's really taken to it well, he's not turning the ball over, and he's not forcing the ball…He's thrown the deep ball better. This offense will get the ball out of his hands quick. He won't have to hold onto to it and that will help the offensive line."

DD: What are your impressions of backup quarterback Danny Sullivan?

RO: "He's really improved. He's improved his footwork, his accuracy…he has the big arm, but he has learned to throw with some touch. He can go in, play and win."

DD: Let's talk about the future and the two quarterbacks that signed in the 2007 recruiting class – Chasen Stangel and Samson Szakacsy. What can you tell us about their skills?

RO: "They're both very mobile quarterbacks. They have big arms and are very smart, but mobility is their greatest asset. It's pretty hard to count on a freshman coming and right away playing. We're gonna give them some opportunities in the fall and see where they are. They're both going to be here this weekend. Both have been studying, trying to learn the stuff, so they get a head-start. Plus, us being able to get them here during summer school will help too."

DD: Conventional wisdom would tell you that if a team brings two quarterbacks, one of them won't redshirt. Do you agree with notion?

RO: "Yeah, that's probably (true) and we told that to both of them. If it works out that we don't have to use any of them, we'll redshirt both of them which isn't all that bad. Right now we'll have them come in here and see what they can do."

DD: ASU's running game was solid last season. With all three running backs from last year coming back, have you been ‘hands-off' with this unit?

RO: "The running backs are awfully good and you have to run the ball well to win a lot of games. You're not gonna win just throwing it. We do what we do. It may look the same, but what we're teaching the running backs, the line, is different (than last year). I'm excited about the running backs and they've done well."

DD: Does it help that the team employed the two tight end system last season – a scheme that you look to run often this year?

RO: "It helps and we also have some really good tight ends. We have some depth there, and having the depth and personnel changing back and forth from two tights to three-wide is good."

DD: Even with some veteran wide receivers injured, you have to be excited with the young receivers that have stepped up…

RO: "Definitely. I'm really excited about the receivers. When Mike Jones is out here, he shows some flashes of good things. Moving Rodney Glass to receiver will help us…I tell you what – those two freshman receivers will show up here in the summer and they'll be ready too."

DD: As you're going into the fall, what are some of the things you'd like to see the offense improve on?

RO: "Efficiency. The quarterback has to be efficient and manage the game, that's what Rudy has to understand. He doesn't have to win the game, he has to manage it. Our job is to make sure that we get the ball in the hands of our playmakers. His job is not to try and make plays himself."

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