Members of the Arizona State coaching staff were eager to move on from Saturday night’s ugly loss during media availability Wednesday. While reflecting on their respective unit’s performance thus far, and previewed this weekend’s matchup with Colorado.
Special Teams Coach Shawn Slocum
The Sun Devils’ third unit has been a rollercoaster thus far. We’ve seen peaks like freshman punter Eddie Czaplicki booting balls down to the one, and lows like the opening kickoff fumble in Provo.
“With the fumbled kickoff return we had a couple missed blocks which led to the returner being hit deep, and that contributed to the fumble as much as the fumble itself,” Slocum said. “We’ve corrected those things, and as we move forward without DJ (Taylor) or with DJ we’ll continue to try and improve what’s happening in front of the return.”
Czaplicki has arguably been the team’s most impactful rookie through three games. Slocum, who never saw Czaplicki kick in person before he signed him, has been thoroughly impressed.
“He’s a good technician, he works at his craft daily. What you don’t know about a young player is how they’re going to handle it mentally, and he’s handled it really well. When he first came in we thought he was going to be our kicker. But then Turk left, and he’s stepped up.”
Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce took the podium next, and didn’t mince words about his policy regarding missed assignments on defense.
“It’s next man up. If you screw up, next man up. When you’re not on the field you have to focus. At practice that was the challenge, getting guys opportunities. Doesn’t matter if you’re a sixth year ‘Super Senior” or a freshman, the guys who get it done during the week will be out there on Saturday.”
“The younger guys have to learn. In our secondary we play man, and that’s not going to change. There will be some opportunities now on the line with Travez Moore out for the season. We started training camp with four-deep and and we don’t look four-deep right now. Great opportunity for some young guys to show up this week in practice and in the game.”
Finally, Pierce discussed the defense’s maturity, and how the loss of experienced players like Moore and Jermayne Lole affects the group.
“Guys like Jermayne Lole, he was the same guy each and every day as a freshman. First, second, third and fourth down, in the locker room, in practice, you know what you’re getting. The next group of guys have to be that same guy. If you want to be that kind of player then the opportunity is going to be given when you prove it.”