Rodd Relishes in New Team Attitude

The 2007 Sun Devils strive to build cohesion among the players and form their identity as a team. Rather than be discouraged by last year's 7-6 season, the team is learning what they can from their mistakes and moving on. Returning seniors such as Brandon Rodd have stepped up as leaders. They do more than set a standard of excellence for other players; they serve as motivation to the team.

Brandon Rodd is returning this season as a fifth-year senior with an undergraduate degree already under his belt. He is also a force to be reckoned with on the offensive line. Rodd spoke with us Saturday at ASU's Media Day and had much to say about the upcoming season.

With two practices in the books, Rodd and his teammates are definitely energized for the upcoming season. "We're still really excited right now. It's a lot of fun out there. High intensity. Everyone is just trying to cheer for each other," Rodd said.

ASU showcases a very experienced offensive line. Rodd had this to say about how the group is shaping up, "We always have stuff to work on, but we're doing good. We know all the calls and we know what we're doing. It's just working on better technique now."

Senior players often have the responsibility of assuming the role of mentor to the younger players, and Rodd takes those duties to heart. "Those young guys just remind us of when we came in," he said. "You have it but it's just not there yet. It's like they just need a little bit more coaching,"

Off-season training is essential to success. Spring practice and summer work-outs changed substantially under the Erickson regime. The players, including Rodd, seem to be in favor of the new practice routines. "Our workouts this year actually got a lot shorter," he explained. "They are a lot shorter but more high intensity. From that point the workouts have kept us a lot healthier compared to last year."

Summer workouts and practices mean going up against brutal defensive linemen. Rodd usually squares up against defensive end Dexter Davis. "He's so fast," he said. "No one has an idea of how good he is."

The team dynamic has changed under its new leadership, including the offense. Rodd is responding well to the changes that have been made to the offensive line. "It's a lot easier for us to comprehend," explained Rodd. "There are a lot less calls, and the calls are a lot easier to understand. It's simplified so we actually picked it up quicker." Specific changes include the way the team takes its pass sets and the philosophy as a whole.

In terms of coaching, Coach Smith has taken a different approach than did the previous Coach Brent Myers. "Coach Myers used to just love yelling at us and Coach Smith will give us the leeway to be seniors. He respects that we've been here for five years and we know what we're doing. We can talk to him more," Rodd said.

Although 2006 was a tough year for the team, the offensive line was strong. Consequently, the running game proved especially impressive. Despite the disappointing 2006 campaign Rodd was proud of the accomplishments of the front five. "That was the best the rushing game has ever been since I've been here," he said.

Rodd and his teammates learned from their struggles, and they are hoping to take what they have learned and use it to their advantage this season. Rodd emphasized, "Everyday in practice you have to bring it. As a whole team we need to be together." Like everything else that has changed this year, so has the team mood. The senior noted that the players seem to have responded extremely well to the new coaching. "We're a lot more up beat," commented Rodd. "These coaches let us show our personality. They let us screw up, because when we are being bad we're being great. We're not afraid to screw up, so when we do good, we doing really good."

Left tackle can be the most stressful job on the line because it is responsible for protecting the quarterback's blind side. Rodd treats the responsibility as a welcomed challenge. "I am going to work hard and I am going to make sure I am perfect so that Rudy (Carpenter) can trust me. He has to know that he'll be o.k. on his back side," Rodd said. He admitted that it helps make the job much easier that Carpenter is a mobile quarterback. "He gets me out of trouble sometimes. If I take a bad step and my guy gets a little away from me, Rudy can usually move around and get away."

Rodd received his undergraduate degree in business and education, which he believes to be his biggest accomplishment, and is a returning as a fifth-year senior. Even though it was four years ago he can still remember when he first got here like it was yesterday. "I can remember everything from my first day of camp. It's weird how fast the time flies."

Rodd also had to go through a major adjustment moving to Tempe from his home in Honolulu, Hawaii. "It was hard. You go from the sun and the beach to the desert," he admitted. "Once I got over the fact that I won't be able to go to the water, it wasn't really that bad." Although he likes Arizona, Rodd noted that he still hopes to move back to Hawaii some day.

Like many fifth-year seniors Rodd acknowledged that he is taking some of the proverbial blow-off classes. When it comes to football, however, he never takes a break from learning. "I am always going to be a student of the game," said Rodd.

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