Coach Cozzetto Excited For Many Reasons

As the ASU tight ends gear up for Saturday's season opener, their position coach Dan Cozzetto is delighted with his group's performance. He is also especially excited to be back at Sun Devil Stadium, a place where saw much success some ten years ago. We spoke with him after Wednesday's practice about those topics and others.

"I am overall very pleased with these guys," Cozzetto said. "We've worked them really hard and given them a lot to digest. They're studying and working hard so hopefully it pays dividends come Saturday night."

Cozzetto showed his appreciation for the hard work his tight ends group has put in. He was understandably disappointed to lose Dane Guthrie to defense, but excited to have Brent Miller as the leader of his group. "They've been working hard," Cozzetto said. "We've got a good group of kids although we lost one to the defense. We've had to make some adjustments, but Brent Miller is back."

Andrew Pettes and Brady Conrad continue to prove themselves on and off the field, while Tyrice Thompson adds another strong element to the group. "There's been some competition between Andrew Pettes and Brady Conrad which has been going good- that'll be interesting to see," Cozzetto remarked. "Tyrice Thompson is another playmaker, so we're going to insert him into special situations where he can have success. Jovon Williams has also come along."

Fifth-year senior Brent Miller has naturally assumed the role of the unit's leader. He has played in all 37 games during the past three seasons and has earned the respect of not only his teammates but his coaches. "I've known Brent since he was a little kid," Cozzetto noted. "He used to live right by me when I was first here in the 90's. He is from a football family. Football means a lot to him. He really studies the game, and I think it's Brent's time to shine. I'm anxious to watch him play. He leads by example; he makes plays; he doesn't say a whole lot, but when he does say something everyone listens."

The two tight end set to line up next to Miller will vary depending on whether there is a need for speed or physical presence. "If we had to play tomorrow and called one certain tight end set it would probably be Tyrice, and if we called another tight end set it would be Andrew or Brady," Cozzetto said. "It depends what we want to do. Andrew and Brady are a lot bigger than Tyrice so there's a time for big people and a time for fast people."

Cozzetto also had this to say about the two returning seniors Tyrice Thompson and Brady Conrad. "This means a lot to them and they're each going to contribute in their own special way, whether on offense or special teams. They're both quality kids and they work hard. You'll see a lot of them out on the football field."

Pettes has shown improvement and will be seeing additional playing time this season. The ASU tight ends coach stated that he would be playing second tight end in a big set. Cozzetto also commented on the younger players such as Jovon Williams, and Lance Evbuomwan. "Jovon is a young player that is coming along," Cozzetto said. "Lance is over there helping us on the scout team right now, but he'll have his time to shine here at Arizona State."

The tight ends have been doing a lot of drills with the offensive linemen during the preseason. "They might not think it's too fun, but we tell them that they are blockers first," Cozzetto noted. "They have to block like a tackle, and run routes and catch passes like a wide receiver. It's a double-edged sword. They have to keep practicing and honing their skills at everything."

Spreading out the wide receivers helps the tight ends get more involved in the passing game. "They complement each other," said Cozzetto. "The biggest thing that we have to do is establish a running game that sets up our play action- which opens up our pass. Tight ends play an integral part in that."

Cozzetto is energized to be returning to ASU where he has enjoyed success in the past. More so than some of the other coaches he exhibits a great deal of exhilaration for the season opener and remarked, "It's good to be home after all these years."

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