Q&A with Coach Grady Stretz

Another fine fall camp for the ASU defense all starts up front withe the Sun Devil defensive line. In this interview Stretz discusses the performance of the players in his group.

Devils Digest: How would you assess the performance of your group in fall camp?

Grady Stretz: "I think we had a good fall camp and the guys made a lot of progress. We were able to get a lot of good work in and continue and develop the players. I've been very pleased with the energy that they brought to practice. There are usually times during camp where the energy isn't where you want it to be, but they showed up and worked and they are a good close knit group."

DD: What kind of challenges has the new offense presented to the defensive line in specific?

GS: "It's a multiple offense that really spreads you out and has a lot of speed. It creates a lot of space and they run it at a high tempo. It definitely can keep you on your heels and the no huddle crates a sense of urgency for the defense as a whole, not just upfront. As a defense you don't have a lot of time to communicate.

"It puts pressure on the defensive ends and puts you in a bind. You want them to go out, attack and penetrate and do everything that is in our mentality. Yet, there are a lot of things that can slow you down like the quarterback pulling the ball on zone read schemes and stretch schemes. There's a lot of misdirection involved."

DD: Do you feel in terms of pass rushing and run stopping that one aspect showed up better than the other in camp?

GS: "That's hard to say just because of the nature of what we are defending right now. We'll know a lot more as the season unfolds. Having a lot of guys come back from last year, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from your players and we're just excited to go out there and play against someone else other than our offense."

DD: Lawrence Guy is obviously coming into this season with high expectations. Have you seen him elevate his performance that much more over last year?

GS: "Lawrence had a very good spring and he continued to flourish here in fall camp. Most importantly he has been healthy, continued to work hard and is headed in the right direction that we want him as a player and as an individual."

DD: Saia Falahola has always been the steady player that you know what you are going to get from him and I have to think that hasn't changed this year either…

GS: "I've been very pleased with him and he has also done a very nice job leadership wise. He really stepped up his game and brings a lot of energy out there. He's now a good solid pass rusher and has a great understanding of our defensive scheme. With the energy that he will bring his senior year he can definitely help us to get to where we need."

DD: The feel-good story of this group has to be Jamarr Robinson. For four years he has barely played and here is as a senior not only playing well but starting…

GS: "Jamarr has done a great job and he has tremendous work ethic. He's very passionate in what he is doing. He had to make a transition moving from linebacker to defensive end and I don't if most people know how hard that transition is. But he just continued to grow and develop, learn the position and become more physical in the run game. He has always been solid with his pass rush. He put it all together and is playing well now."

DD: There has been a great battle at strong side defensive end between Jamaar Jarrett and James Brooks. Can you talk about those two players?

GS: "It's an ongoing competition as we speak. Both of them have had their days and their moments. Each of them has their own strengths and it will be interesting to follow that competition as we get closer to the season opener. It's a good situation for me to have such talent and depth at this position. I'm enjoying watching that competition and see them push each other."

DD: Corey Adams had a long way to battle back from his back injury, but late in camp has played very well and now is on the second team. Can you talk about his progress?

GS: "He's doing a nice job. He unfortunately got a concussion in the middle of camp and had to miss three, four days. But since then he has been playing well and being assignment sound. I like how he's starting to move around there. When he first practiced after the injury he was understandably tentative. He did pick up his play last week and it's a luxury having a player like that in the group."

DD: How is Will Sutton doing following up a good freshman year?

GS: "He has had a great camp. He is as gifted as any lineman as we have upfront. He's one guy that never gets the recognition he deserves for whatever reason. He's very active and makes a lot plays. A great pass rusher and very instinctive. He's a more active player now after dropping from 305 in the spring to 285. He has a whole year under his belt and a lot better understanding of the game and his assignments and he just goes out there and performs."

DD: I don't know if you coached someone as small in size (5-11) as Nduka Onyeali, but obviously he had a solid fall camp for you…

GS: "Junior did a real nice job. We were excited when we had the opportunity to recruit him and evaluate him off his high school film. We knew he was someone who has a lot of explosiveness and has an element of speed that is very hard to find at the defensive end position. He has a lot of talent as a rush end, and has become a lot more physical in the run game. He's starting to put it all together and I think he has a lot of upside to him.

"I plan on him being out there in the mix, and depending on the packages we have out there he can find his own role where he can help us. He's really intense and he wants to be coached hard. He's exactly the type of player that we are looking for when we recruit defensive linemen."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories