ASU interim athletic director James Rund gives brief statement after football practice

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Patterson's temporary replacement stopped by Arizona State football practice on Wednesday and offered a few thoughts.

Just 24 hours after news broke that Steve Patterson will leave Arizona State to take the athletic director position at Texas, his temporary replacement and interim athletic director James Rund spoke to the media after football practice.

Rund stopped by the Sun Devils' football practice for a meet and greet with media members, and although he was not doing formal interviews, he did offer thoughts on the direction Arizona State athletics is going.

"Steve Patterson did a terrific job in laying the foundation for long term success for Arizona State University athletics and we're going to stay the course," Rund said. "Full steam ahead."

Rund acknowledged the dedication that Patterson put in during his tenure at Arizona State and said that the employees of the athletic department have a great understanding of how the program will move forward because of the leadership Patterson brought to the table.

"We've got a great coaching staff, superb student athletes who all want to compete at the highest level, all want to win championships," Rund said. "We've got a terrific support staff behind them, a great administrative team, some new people who've brought terrific new talent and a stable of long-standing, hard-working ASU employees who know how to support a world class athletic program."

Rund has served Arizona State as the Senior Vice President for Educational Outreach and Student Services and has played a pivotal role in initiatives to increase student attendance at Sun Devil sporting events. Student ticket sales for football games are hitting record numbers this season and Rund hopes that will continue onto basketball season.

"We've got the home opener for men's and women's basketball this weekend and we need to see a full house and a whole community supporting Arizona State athletics," Rund said.

Football Practice Report

After practice Wednesday, Todd Graham said the Sun Devils enjoyed their best Wednesday practice of the season. Graham isn't shy about saying that on a week to week basis, but he seemed genuine in talking about the progress his team has made during the week.

"It's mental maturity, taking a workman's attitude to it (practice), and really operating as a unit," Graham said. "You can come out here and just kind of go through it or you can really work to get better and they're working to get better."

The Sun Devils have to be sharp against a Utah team that has the talent to beat any squad in the Pac-12. Graham has touched on the Utes' turnover issues throughout the week and says that the Sun Devils' special teams units will have opportunities to create turnovers or big plays on Saturday.

"We want to get a kickoff return for a touchdown, we want to get a punt return for a touchdown, we want to block a punt, we want to fake another punt," Graham said. "That's the kind of aggression and how you attack."

Practice Notes

  • Jaelen Strong missed practice to deal with a personal matter, but he'll make up the time he missed on Wednesday night.
  • James Johnson will be the Sun Devils' second string free safety even though Graham still wants to redshirt him. Johnson will only play if the Sun Devils need to use him.
  • The Sun Devils worked inside the Dickey Dome today with simulated crowd noise that was audible from about 30 yards away from the dome.
  • Graham said that Utah's Kyle Whittingham is a defensive-minded head coach and laughed in saying that's the best type of head coach.
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