Q&A with Coach Greg Burns

When mentioning the virtues of ASU's Pac-10 leading defense, the cornerbacks group usually isn't mentioned in that discussion. How did that group perform last year and how is this unit shaping up for the upcoming season? Devils Digest visited with Burns to get answers to those questions and more.

DevilsDigest: Coach, the team added two cornerbacks in the 2010 class. One of them is Alden Darby. What can you tell us about him and his skills?

Greg Burns: "He definitely has a lot of potential. He has good size with a 5-11 frame and 4.5 speed. He's a good athlete who played a lot of offense as well and his athleticism should really help him play well at the corner spot. I don't mean to inflate him, but when you watch film on him he reminds you of (former NFL corner) Deltha O'Neal."

DD: The second newcomer is Devan Spann. What kind of attributes does he bring to the table?

GB: "He's another good athlete and a very fast player. He came from a great program in Los Angeles (Serra High School) that won the state championship in their section. I definitely think he has a good chance to contribute early. It obviously depends on how fast he picks things up when he gets here. I'm very excited about both cornerbacks."

DD: When you look back at the 2009 season, how would you rate the cornerbacks groups as a whole?

GB: "They did OK. I'm never going to think that they did great. We left some plays on the field, things we should have and could have done. But at the same time we did OK. I would give them a grade of C+/B-."

DD: Not to make excuses, but one factor that probably affected the group was Omar Bolden's health and the fact that he missed most of the season. For the few games he played in how would you rate his performance, as well as the impact his absence had?

GB: "I wouldn't necessarily say that because the other guys should have stepped in and relished in the opportunity. I thought that guys did come in and do a good a job and showed that they are capable.

"Omar played in just four games and did a solid job as I thought he would. We did have three, four corners that I thought could play in Pierre Singfield and Terell Carr who both had experience. So, yes it was a blow not having Omar but we had guys that were capable.

"One kid that really emerged was Deveron Carr and he did a good job and took advantage of the fact that he played early. He held onto his starting job until he got injured. So we have some higher expectations on him. We always he knew he was capable and just had to pick things up on a faster pace. Once he was inserted to the starting lineup he started progressing faster. I just don't know who much he will be able to practice in the spring coming off shoulder surgery."

"Josh Jordan had some physical issues to deal with, and I hope he can come back and contribute. Right now it looks like he should be OK for spring and I expect him to come back and play like he did last spring practice with that same fire and competitive nature that he has. He definitely will have an opportunity. I feel good about the players we have coming back."

DD: One corner that didn't get a lot of playing time, and was even being experimented at wide receiver, was LeQuan Lewis. From the limited amount of game reps he got what is your take on his performance and his prospects for 2010?

GB: "We expect him to contribute. He's in the hunt and the cool part is that everything is open. Everyone has a chance to compete for a spot and he's no different than anyone else. He's taking on the opportunity to become a starter, and he's studying and understanding the playbook a little better. The physical part is there, and he just needs to catch up with the mental part.

"I'm telling all my guys, including Omar, that no one is a starter right now. They can believe it or not, but they know the rules and know that I give everyone a fair chance. That's the mindset that everyone has to have. Any player can get beat out for the starting position."

DD: Osahon Irabor started fall camp as one of the better corners out there but an injury forced him to redshirt his freshman year. How is he doing health wise and what are your expectations from him this year?

GB: "He's recovering from his thumb injury, but I'd like to think that by the time spring ball starts that he should be able to perform. I don't know what limitations he will have, if he will have any. He's keeping in shape and the potential is definitely there. He's someone that if he comes back the way he started last fall he will be in position to compete and have a chance to help us out. Spring is all about getting back into it, and he has the tools to do it. It's all a matter of how quick he can get back into the flow."

DD: You mentioned the wide open battle for positions in your group. Aside from establishing a depth chart, what are some of the other goals you look to achieve in the spring?

GB: "My goals are the same as any year. I want them to continue to improve. We have to improve on some fundamentals, some schematic things that we weren't understanding clearly enough last year and prevented us from making plays. Spring football is all about going back to playing football and competing hard, and developing chemistry and depth"

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