New football assistants adjust to roles at spring practice

Offensive linemen coach Chris Thomsen shifts his eyes to each one of his players looking for something to correct. Thomsen has already made an impact on the linemen in his first five practices with the team. (Photo by Edmund Hubbard)

Offensive linemen coach Chris Thomsen shifts his eyes to each one of his players looking for something to correct. Thomsen has already made an impact on the linemen in his first five practices with the team. (Photo by Edmund Hubbard)

There are some new faces around the ASU football spring practices.

Besides new players, like transfer redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Christian Westerman, there are many new coaches in their first spring at ASU.

Chris Thomsen is now the offensive line coach for the Sun Devils. Head coach Todd Graham originally hired Thomsen back in December 2011, but Thomsen took the same job at Texas Tech.

Now he is back and is impressed with how the team operates.

“First impressions, our practices are awesome, high tempo,” Thomsen said. “Our guys, I think, are responding good to what coach Graham wants, the vision he set. I think everybody is on the same page.”

Thomsen was also a head coach at Division II Abilene Christian prior to coming to ASU.

He was part of similar fast-paced organizations, but he said nothing compares to to the tempo that Graham brings to ASU.

Thomsen inherits an offensive line unit that returns three starters.

It is the third time that the big men up front have had a different position coach to start the season.

Returning starter senior center Kody Koebensky has adjusted well to his new coach.

“So far coach Thomsen has been great, so I’m just getting used to him,” Koebensky said. “He’s got a lot of good technique stuff that he brings to the table and different ways of doing things that’s really good for us.”

Although Thomsen is the coach of the offensive line, the group does not really belong to him.

It belongs to the seniors.

Thomsen needs Koebensky and senior left tackle Evan Finkenberg to step up into a new role.

“I’m just trying to get them to understand the ownership that they have to have,” Thomsen said. “We lost a couple seniors off of last year’s team and when leadership graduates, other leadership has to emerge.”

There are two new coaches on the defensive side of the ball, sort of.

Linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Ron West left to coach at North Carolina in February.

To fill the void, Graham moved co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph from defensive line coach to linebackers coach.

Graham then brought in Jackie Shipp to work with the defensive line.

As the “devil” linebacker, redshirt junior Carl Bradford has experienced both Shipp and Randolph’s coaching styles.

Bradford has a lot of respect for Shipp, a former Oklahoma assistant and Miami Dolphins linebacker, and finds his coaching style very similar to Randolph’s.

“To me they kind of look like brothers,” Bradford said. “They both got the same mentality, the same motor, energy and everything. They just love to coach.”

 

Young moves inside

 

Senior linebacker Chris Young had a standout season last year at ASU’s unique “spur” position.

The spur is a combination between a defensive back and a linebacker.

After Brandon Magee graduated, it left a hole in defense at the middle or, “Will,” linebacker position.

Young could fill that hole and fill some running lanes in the process.

“Chris Young, we slid him in there at ‘Will’ and he really looked good, obviously we’re trying to create competition,” Graham said. “Chris was really a bright spot today. That ‘Will’ linebacker (position), big shoes to fill there.”

With Young moving inside, redshirt senior Anthony Jones got first team reps at the spur backer position.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu