Free: One on One With Zack Asack

Heading into the 2005 football season, no one expected any of the three talented freshman quarterbacks to see any meaningful action. However, after it became apparent that a change under center was needed, Massachusetts signal caller Zack Asack got the call to lead the Blue Devils. Recently Asack sat down with TDD to discuss his first collegiate season in our first postseason interview. Preview the first in a multi-part series for free.

TDD: Going from a freshman backup who could be redshirted to an ACC starter must have been a pretty unique experience. How did you handle it?

Zack Asack: It was the best experience of my life to be able to earn playing time in the ACC, against some of the best teams in the country. I had to really work to not get in over my head and to become the best leader I could, while also trying to move the ball down the field for us.

Obviously you were "thrown to the wolves" in a big way. How did things progress for you from when you took over?

We started off with a reduced play book and began adding to it as I became more and more comfortable each week in practice. The experience really taught me a lot about being prepared and how to lead. As the season went along we began to throw the ball a lot more than we had in the beginning because I really started to get a better understanding of the offense.

If you had a chance for one "do over" from this year what would it be?

Probably the interception I threw against Georgia Tech down around the goalline. It was just a bad throw and stupid read. If I could go back and do that again I'd make a better read. I can't dwell on that kind of thing though, I just learned from it.

On the other hand, what was your favorite memory from the past season?

Probably the first time I took the field against Virginia. Walking on the field for the first time, in an ACC game, was just an amazing experience that I'll always remember.

As the season went along more and more of your classmates were able to battle their way to the field. How did that come about?

We came in over the summer, which is something previous groups never had a chance to do. That helped us a lot because we had a chance to come in and learn how to do things early. We had extra time to learn, and that really helped us. Towards the end of the season you saw more young guys getting in and making plays for us especially at receiver and running back. We just continued to work hard and began getting comfortable with each other's abilities.

There were so many games that really hinged on one or two mistakes. It wasn't fun to lose, but we can't get down on ourselves about that kind of thing. We had to learn from those mistakes and use what we learned the next week. That kind of attitude coupled with experience really helped guys get on the field early.

Continuing with that theme, what your class has been called the cornerstone for Duke's turnaround. How have you embraced that role?

We need to continue to work hard in the offseason and to set an example. The best thing we can do is to be leaders with our effort and hard work.

Which of your classmates do you expect to see making an impact in 2006?

I really can't name one. I expect big things from everyone of them, but I think people will really be surprised with how good VO, Ayanga, Ryan Radloff, and others are. It's just so hard to name one or two because there are so many good players coming into the system who are ready to break out.

The offense struggled in a big way at times this year. What improvements can we expect in the future?

I think things really starting to click. This year there were so many guys who weren't used to this level of football that were in key roles. We are certainly going to throw the ball a lot more. I think it'll be a more pro-style system, but if we need to run then I feel pretty comfortable doing that as well. One thing this system should do is have at least one receiver open at all times. As a quarterback I just need to learn how to make the right reads. A lot depends on the QB being able to look around and make the right, and correct, read.

How can your experiences as a freshman under fire help next year's freshman class?

I think we'll be able to talk to those guys in terms they can understand on the field. Being able to translate what the coaches are saying in coaches' language into players' language is probably the biggest change from high school to college. Having someone who is able to explain exactly how what the coach is saying will work on the field is a great asset.

Next season there will be three young QBs vying for the starting spot. What has Coach Roof said in regards to naming the starter?

He hasn't really talked about that too much. All three of us know that we will need to be ready to go because nothing is set in stone and everything is up for grabs. We all need to work hard and push ourselves to improve, while also pushing each other to get better.

What do you need to work on heading into next year?

My mechanics need to get better. I need to get stronger as well. Basically I just need to improve everything.

What are some realistic goals for the team in 2006?

We want to win every game and are working hard to do that. I can't really give you a number as far as victories go. It's going to be tough. We play in the best conference in the country and every game is a challenge. I think you'll begin to see some on the field improvements as everyone gets comfortable out there.

Any one game you're looking forward to?

All of them are big games, but I am looking forward to going up to Boston College. I'm from that area and know a lot of guys on that team. It'll be fun to go up there and compete against them in front of my friends and family.

Speaking of family, what were you're parents' reaction to your freshman season?

They were very proud of my accomplishments and were always supportive. They came to every one of my games. My mom and my brother would sit and watch the games, but not my dad. Once the game starts he's walking up and down for the entire time. He can't sit still and watch.

How would you describe Coach Roof to someone who had never met him?

He's the best coach I've been around. He's a role model to every one of his players, and we all look up to him. He motivates us and pushes us to become the best players we can be. When we turn this around it'll be because of him and the rest of the coaches. We believe in him.

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