Devil Digest: With fall camp just a week away, what are some of the main goals that you have circled to be accomplished during that time period?
Dennis Erickson: "Number one, we just want to see where we are offensively and defensively, how much they have retained from the spring…we didn't install all of the offense and defense in the spring. We need to identify what condition we're in, and take a look at the new guys and see who can help us."
DD: Were you pleased with how the team was coming out of spring ball? Did they meet your expectations?
DE: "They improved. I think we probably improved defensively a lot more than we thought we would. That will make a difference. I was happy with where at. The biggest thing was their attitude, how hard they worked, how they practiced…that was really a big deal for us. We had a great summer and the leaders like Mike Pollak, Rudy Carpenter, Josh Barrett, and Michael Marquardt really stepped up this summer. JC guys like Luis Vasquez stepped up too as leaders."
DD: You talk about intensity and how important you value that in practice. Do you think the team picked that virtue up pretty fast in the spring?
DE: "I think they did. I think they know that we've been there (as a coaching staff) and know what we have to do to get it done. But for me the bottom line is how you improve during the season. You never know how good you are until you play somebody else. You either get better or you get worse. You don't stay the same. The improvement that we make from our first non-conference game to our first league game is very important."
DD: You talked earlier in the day about the defense being a question mark. What in specific worries you about the defense?
DE: "Our cornerback situation…J.T. is established, but Chris (Baloney) has to step up. Omar Bolden may end up helping us there and we moved Jeremy Payton there some. A guy that really stepped up at safety was (Troy) Nolan, which gives us some flexibility with Payton at corner. I'm pretty happy with our linebackers…we just have to get depth at defensive tackle – that is probably the biggest concern for us."
DD: A far as special teams, you must feel pretty good about punter Jonathan Johnson. However, kicker Thomas Weber was inconsistent in the spring. How much of a concern is that?
DE: "I think it will work itself out – we don't have much choice. I think he has a good leg and he will get better. It's not like he's a guy that can't kick."
DD: Any thoughts who will be the primary return guys on special teams?
DE: "J.T. and Kyle Williams will be the main guys out there. I think Kyle Williams can make a lot of things happen."
DD: Did you have a chance to go up to camp Tontozona yet and what were your impressions of it?
DE: "I was up there three or four months ago. It's interesting…it will be good, because we'll have a lot of chance to spend time together. I hope it doesn't rain and we don't have to go back and forth to Payson. That's the most important time of year as far as a learning process. But the facilities and the dorms over there – it's a great deal. It really is. Being in a secluded area…there's pluses and minuses for both. You spend a lot of time there together and that's a plus, but it's a heck of a lot cooler."
DD: Being a coach in the Pac-10 twice before – do you think it gives you any advantage coming back a third time, Things have changed a lot since you last coached in the conference…
DE: "I think it helps that I've been there, done that, and been in every stadium. I know all the fight songs…but I think it helps that I know most of the coaches over the years and that will make a difference."
DD: As the head coach, you're obviously excited for the new season. Do you also feel that sense of excitement also in the Sun Devil community?
DE: "There was a lot of excitement after we announced the recruiting class, lots of excitement during spring ball…I feel the excitement when I go different places in the community. We just have to keep it exciting by winning games and we have to show progress. You fill up that stadium and you have lots of possibilities. But there's no magic wand you can wave and say you'll be great. We're the same team that won seven games last year, so we have to improve."
Nine Questions with Dennis Erickson
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