AStateNation.com got a chance to sit down with new Arkansas State University Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn for a question and answer session as his Red Wolves Football team is preparing to begin Spring Football in the near future.
Go "Inside" the first part of a two part series to get Coach Malzahn's thoughts on several key issues regarding his first three months as the Head Football Coach of the Red Wolves.
AStateNation Question: What has been your biggest off the field challenge since becoming the Head Football Coach at Arkansas State?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Probably my schedule. Trying to do everything I would like to do, speak at different places, juggle what I need to do here.
AStateNation Question: You have said that you want to be a part of everything from marketing to running the day to day operations of your football program, talk about your role in that area.
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Trying to raise our level in all areas, when you do that everything has to be coordinated. Still learning a lot of things here, meeting new people and building relationships, it's very time consuming.
AStateNation Question: How do you see this signing class fit into John Thompson's defensive schemes?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Very well. John Thompson and Dave's defenses are real close, very similar, even Keith Patterson even fronts and odd fronts they do both, it will be a smooth transition. We recruited position oriented so I definitely thought about that in the hiring process of a defensive coordinator.
AStateNation Question: How has it effected the football team or you as the head coach by Keith Patterson's sudden departure for another job?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Really not as bad as the outside world thinks. Recruiting was already over. We still have a couple of weeks before spring ball. If it had been closer to recruiting or spring ball it may have caused bigger issues.
AStateNation Question: Have you or did you ever consider delaying spring ball due to the late arrival of John Thompson?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: We are still considering possibly moving things back a little, just had a meeting about that. Not going to get into a hurry, make sure our coaches and players have a solid foundation before we get started.
AStateNation Question: What do want to accomplish in spring practice?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Want to build a foundation offensively and defensively to our base stuff. We want to evaluate our players and develop a depth chart. Put them in the right positions. We lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball, someone told me we lost six, but going back and looking we have lost nine guys who played a lot on that side of the ball. We really rebuilding a defense, on offense we are still similar, but we are still different. We need to evaluate guys on both sides of the ball.
AStateNation Question: Have you had a chance to get to know your team on a personal level?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Getting better, the more we are around them. The more stuff we try to do other than football. Very pleased with the type of young men we have on our team.
AStateNation Question: You have said you want to take this program to the next level, in your words what does going to the next level mean to you?
Gus Malzahn's Answer: Well to be a top 25 team year in year out. I want us to be the Boise State of the South. But to answer your question the next level is a process each year. building it, building that foundation. Expectations being higher for us to accomplish being a Top 25 team.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the two part series on Wednesday.