Q&A with Coach Al Simmons

Searching for a second starter at cornerback was a goal of spring practice, and it remains unfulfilled at the end of the 15-practice session. To address that position issue and others Devils Digest sat down with the Sun Devils cornerbacks coach.

Devils Digest: Coach, how do you feel that cornerbacks as a group performed in spring practice?

Al Simmons: "I thought as a group they improved quite a bit after practice number 10 or so. The practices from that point until the end of the spring were by far the best."

DD: Do you feel there was a period of transition with a new faces like Jarrell Holman or with a player that didn't play much last year like Chris Baloney?

AS: "Even though Chris didn't play that much he knows the language and what I expect from him. Jarrell was the only new guy, but I really didn't sense that much transition with him."

DD: In regards to your one established starter, Justin Tryon, do you feel that he's being more of a vocal senior, as you would expect a senior starter to be?

AS: "A little bit, but he can still improve in that area. But he showed some of that leadership and had a good spring."

DD: Coach Erickson and Coach Bray talked about how they wanted to see a second cornerback emerge as a starter along Tryon, and ultimately that didn't happen in the spring. As the position coach, what are your thoughts on the issue?

AS: "We're still not consistent there. One player would put two good days together, and then another player would put two good days together. Some players had a better start to spring practice and some had a better finish. We're looking for a player that can play well for more than just a couple of practices. "

DD: It seems like whenever we talk about this position, we mention Grant Crunkleton and Travis Smith as young players that can hopefully improve and climb up the depth chart. How do you feel those two have done in the spring?

AS: "Crunkleton really had a good spring. Travis had a good spring too, but not as much as Crunkleton. Both of them have been improving. "

DD: How much of an adjustment has it been for the cornerbacks under the new defensive scheme of Coach Bray?

AS: ""Assignment wise it's been less than it was last year, but we didn't run our full package in the spring. The technical part is the same. We just ask the cornerback to see more, have a broader vision and not so much a tunnel vision. "

DD: Being that you coached with Coach Erickson before, you're obviously familiar with how to defend his pass offense. But for your cornerbacks spring was the first taste against this scheme. Do you think that the cornerbacks can get better, just because of all the things Erickson throws at you on offense?

AS: "He does definitely do some things different and throws a few wrinkles that make it challenging. There is some stuff that he still hasn't shown, but from what we did see, they (the cornerbacks) understood everything better as time went along."

DD: Aside from consistency, what else does the group need to improve on for fall camp?

AS: ""I would like to see them raise the level of play a little bit more. They made some progress the last few practices and I want to see them continue that. You always assume that by the time the first game starts, that the guys will be better than they are right now in practice. They worked their butts off in the spring, and I would like them to continue that so they can improve."

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