Erickson Meets The Press
Oct. 8, 2002
(On Arizona State) 'They're a football team that's obviously very impressive, especially the last couple-three weeks, offensively. They made a quarterback change about halftime of the San Diego State game and brought in Andrew Walter, who, since then, has lit it up. He's thrown for over 400 yards against Stanford and North Carolina last week; he's a talented guy who can really throw it. Shaun McDonald may be the best receiver in our league, or one of the best ones - we've got a lot of good receivers in this league. The thing that he does is, he's so explosive and he makes so many darn things happen. He's got great speed and he's caught the deep ball for them; I think he's caught 30-some balls and the next guy has probably caught 13. He's just a real talented guy. They've got great skill. Daryl Lightfoot is a guy who's a very quality player. You don't move the football and score that many points and get that many points unless you're pretty talented, so they're very talented. Their offensive front gets better all the time; they were new when they started but they're playing a lot better.
'Defensively, they're a team that's going to pressure you. They blitz quite a bit, they've played a lot of man coverage. Terrell Suggs is probably the best at his position in the country at defensive end, a great pass rusher who creates a lot of problems. I think he's got 10 or 11 sacks, something like that. We've got to make sure we understand where he is. Our schemes have to be such that we don't put a tight end or a tackle on an island trying to block him by themselves all the time; they're going to have to at times, just because of what we do, but we want to try to get them off that island as much as we can.
'They're playing better as a football team. They've got no losses in the league. They lost a heartbreaker last week; I know the feeling. Their kicker missed four field goals or something like that; he's a big-time kicker and I guess that happens to all of us, and I know exactly what he's going through.'
(What does ASU quarterback Andrew Walter have that OSU hasn't seen this season?) 'He's big - he's 6-foot-5, probably about Derek's size (referring to OSU quarterback Derek Anderson). He's got good mobility, a real strong arm; probably the most impressive thing is, he's really accurate. He throws a deep ball as well as anybody I've seen throw it this year. His first two plays coming out of the chute against San Diego State, he hit McDonald twice for touchdowns or big plays down the field, so he's very accurate. He's got a good arm, he sees things very well - he's really impressive in the two games I've seen.'
(Was OSU's offense in the fourth quarter against UCLA something to build on?) 'We made some plays; James Newson made some plays - that was the real key. Derek (Anderson, quarterback) threw it a lot better. The thing that was positive about it was, they never quit and they came back and had an opportunity to possibly win it at the end. But you could feel it in the fourth quarter, that they felt if they got the ball back they could go down and score, so that gives us some confidence, hopefully, going into this football game. Derek made some plays, some of our receivers made some plays, but we've got to become more consistent in what we do and look at what we're doing. We've got to find a way to become more productive offensively; I've said that each week, but it's the truth. We're having trouble running it, so we've got to find a way to run it, to do some things schematically to run it better. Everything goes on the offensive line and on Derek, and that's not necessarily the truth because there are some things we've got to try and do as an offensive football team to get better.'
(On the play of David Lose and Mike Kuykendall after injuries have caused moves on OSU's offensive line) 'As the game went on, they got better and better. To start out with, it was hard on both of them because you can practice, but until you get the speed of the game and see it for a while, it's not easy. But I thought as time went on, particularly in the third and fourth quarter, they started doing some pretty good things, and they'll get better this week just with practice.'
(Is there an aspect of Arizona State's team that concerns you most?) 'There's a couple. (Defensive end Terrell) Suggs is one, blocking him. But they're very explosive. Last year, when you watch the game, we gave up the big play against them - a long pass, a couple long runs for touchdowns. That's what they've been doing this year; they're very explosive. I'm not saying we're going to stop them from getting a big play, but we've got to slow that big play down. We can't let them get the big play all the time. If we can force them to earn it, then we've got a chance.'
(On OSU not having beaten Arizona State in Tempe since 1967) 'I don't know - I've only played down there once; twice with the Fiesta Bowl, but once against Arizona State. That's a great stadium, it's a great setting, a great field. It depends on when you play; obviously, if you get down there in August or September, it might be a little hot. But I kind of like it down there, myself. I think it's a good place to play. And playing on the road, obviously, is a little tougher. But I'd have to go back through the history to see what happened in those games.'
(On the injury to safety Mitch Meeuwsen and OSU's overall injury situation) 'Mitch is going to have an MRI today; they believe it's his medial collateral ligament, which depending on the MRI can be anywhere from three weeks to six weeks. He obviously won't play this week, then we've got a bye. We really won't know until we see exactly where it is, but he could be back maybe for Arizona; I don't know that, I'm just guessing when I say that, but I do know he won't play this week. (Offensive tackle Brian) Kilkenny is pretty much in the same situation as he is; (offensive tackle) Lee Davis probably a little longer, so those three are going to be out for sure. We've got some bumps and bruises like everybody else, but everybody else should be able to play. Bill Swancutt got hit on the knee and it swelled on him; in yesterday's report he was okay and he's going to be able to practice today some - I wouldn't think he could go full speed, but he should be able to play Saturday.'
(After watching films of the UCLA game, what happened on defense?) 'Any time you gain yards like that, it's a matter of two things. I thought UCLA had a very good scheme against us and did some good things against us, really controlled the ball even though we were ahead; and then they got some huge plays in the fourth quarter, some long runs that add things up. As I look at it, we made some physical mistakes but we probably made more mental mistakes in a couple situations that gave up the big play.'