McFoy Looks to Shake Off Sophomore Slump

The first fall practice in the indoor facility, let alone one that came earlier than expected had Ryan McFoy grinning from ear to ear, relishing in the experience. On Thursday the weak side linebacker had even more reason to smile. He took reps with the first team and overall has had a strong fall camp that has help put a disappointing 2007 season for him in the rearview mirror.

When the Chino (Calif.) standout arrived in Tempe in 2006, he was heralded as one the best safeties to sign with Arizona State in recent years. McFoy played in 12 games and started in eight of them. He tallied 34 total tackles, two pass breakups and a freshman record two interceptions (one of them returned for a touchdown).

A change in the coaching staff ultimately led to a change in position for McFoy who was moved to linebacker. Playing behind established players such as Travis Goethel and Robert James certainly made it hard for Ryan McFoy to repeat his 2006 campaign performance. Consequently, he tallied just 15 total tackles in 11 games last year, playing in a reserve role.

"Running with the first team feels really good," said McFoy following Thursday's practice. "I'm just trying to stay focused and hold on to my (starting) spot. Coaches saw a big improvement in me since spring ball and I'm trying to just work hard and earn that spot."

The 6-2 218 linebacker admitted that he tries and not think about last season because it can affect the progress that he made since. "I'm studying the playbook very hard and just thinking about the future," stated McFoy. "Reading my line keys, the quarterback drops, learning coverages…I've been doing that all summer."

McFoy added that graduate assistant Trent Bray, son of ASU's Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Craig Bray, has aided him tremendously in the off-season in learning from his mistakes and improving his execution. "I wasn't only working on my speed and getting bigger," he noted, "but also getting better mentally. This is a big year for us and I want to be a part of it."

The junior has always been heralded for his speed, and he claimed that his first time practicing in ASU's indoor facility did give him the impression that he, and his teammates for that matter, benefitted from the experience and played faster.

"It really made you feel like you were in a game or something," said McFoy. "It's different because it's not grass. You have to get used to the rubber pellets, but you have to play like you do on the grass and just not think about it. I love the bubble."

McFoy started as the WILL linebacker when spring practice began in March, and going into fall camp was listed as a starter. After vacating that role in favor of Mike Nixon for a couple of days, he's back in not only a familiar position, but also a desired one.

"That's my goal when I sat down with Coach Bray in the summer," said McFoy. "Coach Bray said that he wanted to see me doing it. I'm studying hard and spending time in the film room so I can start in the first game of the season."

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