A few questions with Arizona assistant coach Jeff Hammerschmidtby Anthony Gimino on Aug. 16, 2010, under Sports
I caught up recently with Arizona assistant coach Jeff Hammerschmidt, who is in charge of the defensive ends and special teams. Not a bad gig this season.
At defensive end, he has senior starters Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore, each capable of double-digit sack totals. And there is also senior D’Aundre Reed, often overlooked, but coaches consider him to be a co-starter.
In fact, D’Aundre Reed, at 6-4 and 258 pounds, has the right combination of size and speed to move to a defensive tackle position when the Wildcats want to go “Cheetah.” That’s the name of their speedy pass-rush package that the coaches experimented with in the spring … and they continue to do so in fall camp.
(Arizona worked on this scheme in its two-minute drill Monday night, with D’Aundre Reed and fellow end Apai Tuihalamaka moving inside.)
“It’s just a matter of getting comfortable with it,” Hammerschmidt said.
On special teams, punt returner Bug Wright and kick returner Travis Cobb each had a return touchdown last season. Senior punter Keenyn Crier (42.9-yard career average) has one of the best legs in the Pac-10. Sophomore placekicker Alex Zendejas’ last kick in a game beat Arizona State on the final play.
John Bonano is back to handle the kickoffs, and Hammerschmidt said the team will be adding a walk-on who can also kickoff and provide some depth at punter.
A few questions for Hammerschmidt:
Q: Brooks and Ricky, are they different kind of pass rushers?
A: Ricky, I think, is a technician. Brooks is probably a little bit more of a speed guy, a get-on-the-edge guy. Ricky does a really good job of anticipating some things. But it’s hard to distinguish those guys apart. … That senior group with (defensive tackle) Mana (Mikaele) and Brooks and Ricky and D’Aundre is pretty special.”
Q: What is Keenyn working on before his senior season?
A: “He’s directional kicking. We’re a real directional kicking team, and there were too many times last year when we didn’t kick to our coverage, and that made it a little scary. … And timing-wise, he has to be consistent. He is so good at getting that ball off in 1.95 (seconds), which is really fast. Anything below 2.0 is really quick, and he gets it off at 1.95 (in games). Well, he practices at about 2.2. He needs to find that same rhythm for practice that he does in games. He’s going to be fine because he’s so talented. He just has to be consistent.”
Q: With Alex, do you see any mental carryover from the game-winning kick at ASU?
A: “The big thing is the confidence we have in him. For a while last year, we tried and tried and it was like, ‘Holy cow, we’re trying to believe in you,’ and it was hard. And then he proved he can do it. That was great for him.”