Confident Krula Balances Hard Work, Fun

Zach Krula is all about having fun this year. The lineman missed his entire 2006 season, and all but three games of the 2005 season because of his ankle injury. He is back with a sixth year of eligibility granted to him by the NCAA. Krula has already graduated with a B.I.S. degree in education and sociology. For an encore, he is seeking team, not personal, honors on the field.

I caught up with Krula just as practice was suspended for the first time in this year's Camp Tontozona, and the team moved into the camp cafeteria. The clouds were covering the sun and the temperature dropped to a mere 89 degrees. Just as things were getting comfortable though, lightning struck way too close to the field and practice was temporally called. "We finally got some nice weather and we can't even practice," Krula laughed.

Although Krula was not playing in the 2006 season, you can rest assured he was still at Camp T that year, as well as every year he was part of the maroon and gold. That makes this his sixth appearance in the pine woods outside of Payson. At times, camp can't be all that terrible, considering that Sunday night's dinner, according to Krula, consisted of surf and turf. However, when asked, Krula knew right away what wee the best memories he will take away from the team's summer retreat. "Going home. Yeah, my fondest memory is going to be going home, the last Camp T ever," Krula said.

ASU's starting offensive linemen this year are going to have a considerable amount of experience, and Krula feels confident about this group. The Sun Devils' front five have caught just as much criticism as the rest of the squad over the years. But that has not stopped Krula from having a positive outlook for this season. "I have always thought we had a good offensive line. In 2005 I thought we had the best offensive line in the country," Krula said. "And I'll say it again; we got the best offensive line in the nation this year. I think we can get our job done and I think with these five guys up front, we can get a lot more done than some of the other teams in the country."

As Krula's cleats clomped up the walkway towards the cafeteria, quarterback Rudy Carpenter overheard his comments and chimed in with a smirk; "They're (the offensive line) nothin'. They ain't nothing." Krula looked back momentarily, smiled, and kept walking.

Rudy Carpenter's demeanor, according to Krula, makes an offensive lineman's job a little less stressful. "Rudy is cool, calm, and collective," he noted. "Everybody knows that we are never going to play perfect. When you screw up - turn the page. Everybody screws up. I think having people who have played there before is good. If you do screw up it is like ‘ok now just turn the page, suck it up, and maybe breathe a little bit.' Next play is the best play."

There was some concern about learning the different plays and schemes that new head Coach Dennis Erickson was going to bring to the table, but it has not seemed to faze Krula one bit. "A lot of the plays are the same but they are just called differently," Krula said. He did mention having some difficulty changing to the tackle position though. "With me moving to tackle, that's just way different. Everybody had to change a little bit. Everybody had to suck up something to make it work."

Although changing positions has been a challenge; some new plays certainly have been a smoother transition. "I like the shotgun starts actually, it gives us more time with the ball," Krula said. "Mike Pollack is great at it; he's a good long snapper. He is just a great center period." Krula seems overall optimistic about the upcoming season and the new offense with Coach Erickson. "Honestly I like this offense, it is simple and it works. That's all there is to it," he said.

According to Dale Carnegie, "People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." Krula will certainly be true to that mantra, and most likely make a few plays along the way too. He is feeling some pressure about the season as a starter, but he is not letting it go to his head. "Yeah, the pressure is there but honestly I never thought I was going to play football again, so honestly I'm just worried about having fun," he said.

Krula admitted that going through rehab was the toughest mental endeavor he had ever been through. Now that he is back on the field he holds a new outlook on his injury. "It's kind of out of sight and out of mind right now," he claimed. "It is not 100 percent, it is not the old me. I will never be the old me again. But honestly I get the job done."

Krula knows a little bit out being a work-horse for the team. "I'm going to have to be the one out of the five to suck it up the most. I got a lot of people looking at me, and I got a lot of people who are doing their job and I need to suck it up and get better," Krula said.

ASU has an all-star backfield this season, which makes Krula's job a rewarding one. "It is always better to block for people you care about. It makes the job a lot easier, especially as an offensive lineman. We don't get all that much credit, but when you see those guys win awards and stuff like that it feels good," he said. Krula is going to have a productive season run blocking, which he prefers to pass blocking. "I don't really like the pass block but you can't go anywhere without passing now so I have to get better at that," he said.

So what are the goals for the sixth season starting offensive lineman out of Sacramento? "I think we are capable of going to the Rose Bowl," Krula stated. "I don't really care about the personal accolades. I don't care if I am first-team or anything. Rose Bowl or bust for me."

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