TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new head football coach at Sun Devil Stadium on December 14, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Coach Todd Graham held a hour-long conference call with season ticket holders of the ASU football program and answered several questions about the state of the Sun Devils. Here's a question-by-question synopsis of his answers.
Offensive schemes: Run, play-action pass team. No huddle, fast tempo. Downhill, physical. Looking to run 80+ plays a game. Running the ball efficiently. Looking for a 60/40 balance with more running. Going to take what the defense gives them.
The key is explosive plays. No huddle and working hard in training camp and practice to create a "5th quarter" and overwhelm the defense. Wants 65-70 plays maximum on defense.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Championships are won in November and the first weeks of December."
Speaks highly of training, discipline, unity and synergy. "You have to be focused on getting better every day." "Eating right, sleeping right, living right."
Regarding the shotgun formation: Inability to run the football downhill from a shotgun. Looks at shotgun with two running backs, "I-Form formation." Looks to involve tight ends to bring more physical aspects to the shotgun. "The biggest challenge that we have is depth up front on the offensive line. That's an area that we've really got to focus on."
Defensively: ASU will be strong at defensive tackle. Playing a 4-3 scheme with a defensive end standing up. An attack-style team, showing a lot of different looks. Coach mentioned playing some bear defense. "We are going to attack." Planning on bumping with the corners, stopping the run and impacting the quarterback.
On longevity: "I really believe this is a major university." Believes program has "tremendous potential" and that ASU is one of the top 25 universities in the country. Said that Pittsburgh was a "major mistake" and that he was "out of his element." Thinks he can win Rose Bowls and BCS championships. "This is the best job that I've ever had in my life." Firmly committed to ASU and that there is "uniqueness in the opportunity." Can't see why he'd want to go anywhere else. Has "no desire to coach anywhere in the NFL."
Sun Devil Club: Encouraged season ticket holders to get involved and said that it is "essential to the success of the program" that donations and support are increased. Sun Devil Club is aiming for 25,000 members. Talks about improving the homefield advantage and making Sun Devil Stadium a destination for recruits.
About Rich Rodriguez: Says offenses are very different. Rich Rod runs option offenses and only averages 1400-1600 passing yards and has a slower pace. On defense, they run the odd stack while ASU will attack and base things on the match up. May see similar fronts on third downs, but 4-3 defense will be seen a lot more often from ASU than UA.
Brandon Magee, the quarterback competition, discipline, motivation, and Camp Tontozona were all discussed. Hit the jump to see more.
Brandon Magee then came on the line and made a brief statement about accountability, discipline and speaking victory. These are the things Todd Graham has tried to instill from day one. Team is going to have pride and says teammates have bought in to Graham's attitude and mentality.
On conditioning: Graham says that team can't play 80+ plays on defense, and that training and conditioning are key in developing to that level. "Our guys are working extremely hard. I wouldn't go anywhere or take any job without our strength coach. The key is managing those snaps and we're going to train our guys."
Magee said that strength training has been more intense and they are working on their explosiveness.
Discipline: Graham believes what society is willing to accept has changed and that the coaches of his past motivated him through fear. Nowadays, "the key is the relationship. You have to show your players that you care about them." Also says that players know if they are cared for and they know if you are passionate about what you're doing.
Quarterback situation: Graham has "a great deal of confidence in the [quarterback] position. All three have great character, great work ethic and great leadership skills." "Looking forward to how they respond in the heat of battle." Talked about lack of experience briefly, but is confident that the Taylor Kelly, Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank all want the job and are going to fight hard for the role of starting quarterback.
Magee agrees, saying it's a "great job opening" and that fans need to come out to the practice to see who is the best option for the job.
Graham also understands that beating Arizona is a huge deal and will make sure the team is ready to dominate.
An informal poll was taken about the game against Illinois: would fans like a gold out, maroon out or black out for the game against the Illini? 41% respondents said gold out.
Camp Tontozona: Says that it's important to make sure the kids are happy and that conditions are safe. Graham is in favor of going to Tontozona and that it is a good tradition. "Last time we went to Camp Tontozona, we went 10-2." Finally, Graham says Camp T is very important to the coaches, the players and the administration.
On players: ASU is fast. Graham singled out Alden Darby as a player he's impressed with. Also mentioned Jamal Miles as a very exciting player, and Rashad Ross as a guy who can "stretch the field vertically."
On winning: Graham is expecting a lot from his players and is going to work towards winning championships. "You can't have a bad attitude and expect to win the Pac-12." Talked about being a giver in the community and loving your teammates and playing for each other on the field.
On the past: Graham is cognizant of the influence of the former ASU football players. Wants to put a historical wall on third floor of the ICA building to tell the story of the past.
Spring football: The team will build their identity and their style of play. Also, they will be putting people in the right places and working on fundamentals.
On fan outreach and exposure: Graham says that he's going to speak to every student organization and fan organization that there is. Wants to let the world know what his team is all about and what he's looking to do at ASU.
Fan expectations: Magee answered that they want fans to maintain a positive energy. The team is there for the fans and they will not let the fans down. Asked for the fans to have their backs. Graham challenged the fans to speak victory and not be a member of the "fellowship of the miserable." Reiterated the need for fans to join the Sun Devil Club, but also offered the fans to come out to practice and support the team. Spoke highly of passion and enthusiasm for the team.
All in all, it is very difficult to leave that conference call without a great deal of excitement for the program. Between Brandon Magee and Todd Graham, ASU football is in remarkable hands going into the 2012 season. See you on April 21, Sun Devil Nation.