The always hustling Doug "Let me hear you" Haller was able to chat with Arizona State's mercurial, media-shy linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Thursday.
Burfict has had an interesting season. He's made a lot plays and not as many penalties as in the past, but the general feeling is he's not playing as well as he could. Pretty well, but not super-scary-Burficty, which is what Sun Devils fans (and fans of super-scary linebackers in general) want to see.
He told Haller:
"It's funny," the Arizona State junior linebacker said Thursday in a rare interview. "Since I'm not getting all these personal fouls, everybody's like, 'Oh, what's wrong with Vontaze? Vontaze isn't playing very well. But when I was getting all those personal fouls, everybody was criticizing me then, too."
Funny thing is, the latest criticism didn't come from media or fans. It came from defensive coordinator Craig Bray, who told Haller he thinks Burfict is trying too hard to avoid penalties, and that is hurting his play.
"We still want him to be a violent person, but he has done too good a job of controlling himself this year," Bray said after last Saturday's USC win. "Hopefully, he'll find that intensity back between the snap and the whistle that he's had in the past."
Burfict doesn't have too much to say about the whole "Matt Barkley said Vontaze was dirty" non-controversy-controversy. He did enjoy his interception of Barkley, but didn't have much to say about his interaction with the Trojans quarterback, which included helping him up after the pick -- Barkley tackled Burfict, in an odd turn of events -- and this outstanding photo.
"It wasn't a big deal to me," Burfict said of the situation, which ended with a Pac-12 reprimand for Barkley.
When they make that photo into a poster, please alert the Pac-12 blog.