Connect with us


Arizona State’s Kenny Dillingham Talks Difficulties in Preparing for Bryan Nardo, OSU’s Quarterbacks

‘This defense isn’t in the Pac-12.’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Kenny Dillingham is 1-0 as a head coach, but that first win took a long time.

Dillingham took over at Arizona State this season after stints as an offensive coordinator at Auburn, Florida State and Oregon. His Sun Devils beat Southern Utah 24-21 this past weekend in a game that officially lasted six hours and five minutes after a dust storm caused a big delay.

Dillingham met with reporters Monday to preview Arizona State’s game against Oklahoma State this weekend. Here are a few things he said about the Cowboys that stuck out.

Nardo’s Vanilla Week 1 Defense Keeping ASU on Its Toes

In Game 1 of the Bryan Nardo era of defense at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys held Central Arkansas to 13 points while keeping the playbook super vanilla.

Dillingham praised OSU’s defense’s size, particularly up front. But as for preparing for what Nardo and Co. are going to throw at the Sun Devils, that seems to be a bit of a guessing game with the film on how Nardo’s defense will look being rather limited.

It was all incredibly insightful. Dillingham mentioned how you have to look at Nardo’s tape from Gannon, but that things might be different at Oklahoma State with new personnel. Dillingham also mentioned the intricacies of Nardo not bringing position coaches with him, so something as small as hand placement might be different and not give the Sun Devils as big a tip as they think.

At one point, Dillingham literally mentioned chasing ghosts in film study because with how vanilla the Pokes were in Week 1, it’s hard to tell what they’ll do in Week 2 and beyond.

“We only have one game,” Dillingham said. “So we have a freshman quarterback who has one game to watch and then he gets to watch film from [Nardo’s] last school, and you get to watch 12 games of different people. I think that’s the challenge: when you play new coordinators early in years is you’re watching different people run the scheme. Well, how much is he running this scheme because the people he has at his last school and the schemes he is facing at his last school versus how much is he gonna change at this new school?

“… This defense hasn’t hit the Pac-12. That’s the reality is this defense isn’t in the Pac-12. This defense is in the Big 12. I don’t even know if it’s, I can’t even process, I never faced it in any other league other than the Big 12. This is a predominantly Big 12 and American conference defense — I faced it in the American, too. So those are the only two leagues that really run this, and you can’t simulate it until you play it. It’s like triple option, so it is very difficult from that standpoint.”

Prepping for Three Quarterbacks

Not only does Dillingham have to prep for a defense he has limited concrete film on, he also has to prep for three quarterbacks on the other side of the ball.

Garret Rangel, Alan Bowman and Gunnar Gundy all played four series in OSU’s win against Central Arkansas, and if anything is changing heading into Week 2, Gundy hasn’t tipped his hand.

The quarterback juggling is driving some OSU fans bonkers, but it sounds like Dillingham, going through a ton of roster turnover like OSU, understands Gundy’s thought process.

“I think they’re all three somewhat similar players,” Dillingham said. “They have 30 new scholarship players, and I think they’re trying to figure out who can do what with the live bullets. You can say practice is going to simulate that, but there’s a reason veteran quarterbacks have success. There’s a reason Year 2 of starting quarterbacks the jump is so drastic.

“I think part of that is them trying to figure out their own roster, and I think the only way you can do that is practice multiple players in a game. I think that’s just Coach Gundy being, I believe, a 19-year vet, knowing how to win football games. Knowing what’s needed to be done down the road to win football games and putting his team in the best position to win football games in the future.”

Most Read