Q&A with Coach Greg Burns

Cornerbacks coach Greg Burns is the lone new addition to the Sun Devil coaching staff, but he's hardly a novice in his profession. His wealth of experience at schools such as USC, as well as the NFL ranks, makes him a valuable contributor to the maroon and gold. Devils Digest visited with Burns to discuss the state of the ASU cornerbacks group and other related topics.

DevilsDigest: Coach, with just half of spring practice gone by, how would you evaluate the cornerback's group?

Greg Burns: "In general, I feel we have a good group of guys. We have a guy like Omar (Bolden) and he's obviously the type of athlete we're looking for. We have to get a good four, five guys competing so we can get a good rotation."

DD: You mentioned Omar Bolden and anyone that sees how he carries himself in practice, his play, his leadership, has to reminded that he's technically still a freshman. I have to assume that in your career you haven't seen too many first-year players conduct themselves in that manner…

GB: "I would have to agree with that. He does carry himself like what I expected cornerbacks to be and I'm actually shocked that it's a freshman doing that. He's been put in a situation where's he's really needed and he's acting like a leader. He's doing that naturally. The intensity, the swagger/cockiness is what you want from a corner. I have no problem with that and I encourage that attitude."

DD: When you look at Bolden's skills, what does he bring to the table that makes him such a good cornerback?

GB: "He's young and he's hungry to learn. He has the right mindset with his swagger. In regards to athleticism he obviously has good quickness, good burst, acceleration…he's aggressive so he won't have a problem in terms of run support."

DD: A lot has been expected from Terrell Carr being that he's a mid-year JC transfer. He got promoted to the first team on Wednesday, so I would assume that you've been pleased with his progression?

GB: "He's doing fine. The biggest thing for any JC transfer is to come in and taking in all the adjustments, checks and coverages. That's what slows both high school and JC kids. We know those kids do have the natural athletic ability, but the mental gymnastics have to come into play and that slows you down. It's just a matter of who can pick it up faster. Terrell started fast, he slowed up a little because we're introducing more coverages, but now that we're back in the review phase I expect him to get back his mental speed and keep his progression."

DD: Can you talk about the other two corners rounding up the top of the depth chart – Travis Smith and Grant Crunkleton?

GB: "They're doing good. Travis is doing a real good job and I have him competing against Crunk right now. I'd like to see that competition, and I always do my best to see guys competing. Travis is a solid corner and he has to make sure he's working on some technique issues. Grant is doing a great job as well. He's smart, not that the other guys aren't, and his smarts will be his biggest advantage."

DD: Let's talk about your hiring by Arizona State back on January 21st. Did you have some connections here at ASU that helped you land here?

GB: "I don't know if I had an inside track, but I did play under Coach Bray (at Washington State) and I've known some of the guys on the staff."

DD: Did the fact that you did coach at USC maybe gave you an itch to come back to the Pac-10 and join ASU?

GB: "That's clearly. I'm definitely a west coast guy, so the opportunity to come back this way…I also just simply like Arizona. Even when I was at USC, I was looking at buying a place here. I love the Phoenix area."

DD: A lot of Sun Devil fans were excited with your arrival, just because of your involvement with the USC program when they won national championships a few years ago and in turn how well you can do at ASU. Is that something that people bring up often to you or maybe this is something that sits in the back of your mind?

GB: "Honestly no (laughs). But at the same time, no matter where myself or anyone else has been, you'd like to think that you can bring in something new. But as a coach, I feel that I'm still learning. I'm not coming in saying ‘listen to me because I've been here and done that.' I believe that I can learn from anyone and I'm looking to learn from anyone."

DD: How would you define your coaching style?

GB: "To be honest, I'd like to think that even though I would be demanding, I'm also wanting my players to be the best. It's probably demanding, but I have a simple rule that says ‘I want you to be great'. Everything I do is to try and make you that way. Sometimes I'm aggressive, sometimes I'm not. I just do whatever it takes to get it done, but at the same time I make sure the players understand that I do care about them. "

DD: How would you chchaertize the cornerbacks' scheme under coach Bray?

GB: "We're definitely gonna be aggressive and not be the weak link in run support. We're like that old cliché that says cornerbacks are the last line of defense. We're gonna be accountable on the defense."

DD: Even tough you haven't recruited the corners coming in the fall, what is you assessment of Josh Jordan, Deveron Carr and others?

GB: "When I talked to them, I told them to come in with the mindset that they are gonna play. Now I say that because I don't want them to think that ‘I can wait a year.' We'll see what happens because when freshmen come in, some get shell shocked and some take it all in and run with it. I haven't met them so I don't know what their personality is, but just by talking to them I can tell they are ready to jump into this and get this thing going, which is what I want them to be."

"When I watch film Jordan is more of a pure corner. He has more footwork and mechanics. Carr on the other hand, is more of an overall athlete. He may be rusty at the fundamentals, but I believe once he gets it he's gonna be really good as well. We'll find out how fast they'll pick up things and we'll go from there. I'm excited for both of them to come here, and I think they can help. We'll see who can come in and help us the earliest, but I expect them both to be good players."

"Clint Floyd may end up on offense as a wide receiver. At least that's what we're looking at initially."

DD: Can you talk about your recruiting ties in Los Angeles and how they can benefit ASU?

GB: "Obviously I'm from L.A. and I'm a city kid that went to Dorsey (high school). The main city part will not be my recruiting area, Coach Yarber will still control that and he does a great job there. I'll be venturing more towards the valley area towards Santa Barbara and also towards Bakersfield because I've had experience in that area. There's always gonna be talent and you just have to weed it out, so I'm excited."

DD: With spring practice at the midway point right now, what goals would you like the cornerbacks group to achieve at the end of spring?

GB: "The biggest thing is for them to gain the knowledge and understanding of their responsibilities, so we have to continue and do that. Corners just cannot make mistakes mentally. I kind of define corners as technicians and I want them to perfect their technique. I want them to understand what it feels like to do something right, rather than just waiting for me to tell them. The biggest thing is that you shouldn't worry where you are on the depth chart now, just work on your technique and perfect it, and the playing time and the depth chart will all fall into play."

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