Quotes From ASU Head Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference.
Oct. 28, 2002
'I felt we had total domination on defense against Washington. It was by far the best game we've played on defense in the two years our coaching staff has been here. Every game this year, Washington has thrown for 300 yards, but at the end of the third quarter, they had only thrown for 70 yards. It was quite a tribute to our defensive coaches and players. The hitting, and the way we tackled in that game was very impressive. We gave four game balls on defense, but we could have given fifteen.
'I honestly believe that I have never seen a college player dominate a single game like the way Terrell Suggs dominated that game. Jimmy Verdon continued to play very well. Riccardo Stewart is getting back, almost to full speed. We can see that he is not quite there yet, but he is close to full speed and continues to fly to the football. The other guy that received a game ball was Brett Hudson. Brett had to go up against Reggie Williams, Washington's #1 receiver, but Brett really rose to the occasion and played a great game. I was very pleased with our defense and then we put in the second-team defense with eight minutes to go in the game.
'I've got to give Washington credit; they never gave up. It was late in the game and they just kept going hard all the way until the end. Behind Cody Pickett, they were able to put up those two touchdowns late in the game. We subbed on offense with four minutes to go in the game, and I don't think we can let the last eight minutes detract from what was a great game. Those eight minutes didn't go the way we would have liked them to go, but the experience that the second-team players get in those situations can never be measured until those players are needed in crunch time. I still think we have yet to play our best game as a team.
'Our offense and defense have been alternating on who dominates the game, while the other side of the ball rides the coattails. I'm anxious to see us play a complete game on both sides of the ball. Penalties were certainly a disappointment. We had 156 yards in penalties, and for the most part we deserved all of them. There is a very fine line between having your team be aggressive, and then be in attack mode. We have to eliminate the penalties if we are going to beat the teams on the rest of our schedule.
'With injuries, Josh Amobi is definitely out this week with a strained MCL. We thought originally it might be worse than that, so we're actually glad it's not worse. We could actually have Josh back for the game against California. If not, he will be back for Southern California. Mason Unck is day to day. If anybody can get back, I think Mason is someone who will. He has a bruised Achilles tendon, which is similar to the injury that Cornell Canidate had a few weeks ago. In their absence, Jamar Williams, and Solomon Bates will probably be the starting linebackers. For depth as far as linebackers are concerned, Connor Banks, who has been a linebacker a few times this year, was in and out as defensive end and will return to linebacker this week.
'Washington State's win Saturday was the first time in Mike Price's 14 years, that they have clinched back-to-back winning seasons. That was surprising to me because when I think about Washington State, I think of them as winning team. They are 17-3 out of their last 20 games, and there are only two other teams in the country that are better than that, Miami and Oklahoma.
'Obviously, Washington State is a great team. They have a great quarterback, Jason Gesser, who is the least sacked quarterback in the league. He gets the ball to his receivers, and he can scramble all over the place. They have great wide receivers, and they will play four, and five-receiver sets. They have good speed on defense like Coach Price said. They held Arizona last week to minus-21 yards rushing. As we had 8.5 sacks last week, they had seven sacks. The Cougars are the number two team behind us in sacks, so we have to protect Andrew Walter. We are looking forward to going to Pullman and playing for the Pac-10 lead.'
Talk about Jason Gesser.
'I haven't watched much film on him, but I thought he was as good a quarterback as there was in our league last year. Coach Price alluded to the fact that he has been hurt a lot this year, but everything Coach Price said is true. Gesser is a great competitor, and he gets the ball spread out. I can't really compare him to last year, because I haven't watched him yet.'
Talk about the importance of depth with a 13-game season.
'Relatively speaking, from an injury standpoint, we are happy where we're at. It's unfortunate that we are going to miss Josh Amobi. We have had our share of injuries. We have some guys that have been hurt for the whole year that we would like to have out there. I think half of our defensive line recorded personal records in the weight room last week, and we are fully committed to the flexibility training and the end of practice.'
Knowing that Gesser has a lot of scrambling ability like UNC did, how do you handle that?
'Jason Gesser is probably a better scrambler than (UW quarterback Cody) Pickett and (North Carolina quarterback Darian) Durant. The defensive coaches ran some different stunts to keep Pickett in the pocket. For the most part we did a good job of that. Look back a few years and nobody has done a good job keeping Gesser in the pocket. Like Coach Price said, he is WSU's all-time winningest quarterback. He's a good player, and Terrell's a good player. If we turn Terrell loose, the other players feed off of him a little bit. Jimmy Verdon has played well all season. Shane Jones has really emerged at one of the tackle spots. I don't think you will see us make any changes because of Gesser, although he is a great player.'
Comment on the 1st drive of the second half and what you talked about to the team at halftime.
'We started both halves with good drives. We scored on our first drive of both halves. I thought we made good adjustments at half time. We had a sneaking suspicion that Washington might come out and play us in a cover-two zone. Washington maybe played 5% cover-two going into our game, and 80% in our game. We never go out there to take time off the clock, unless it's late in the game. When we go out there, we go out to put points up on the board. '
Is this the first time you have played on turf like WSU's since the Nebraska game?
'Oregon has the same turf, so I hope we play on it like we did at Oregon.'
What was your evaluation of the Sun Devil running attack in the last game?
'We are getting better. We aren't as bad as people think we are. Sometimes our backs won't hit the holes right, or our line will miss blocks. It's not as far away as it might seem from where it should be. I am not happy with where our running game is, but lets not lose sight, the object of the game is to win, not to have a good running game.'
Winning in Pullman is not an easy task. Because you have won on the road this year, will you mention that to your team this week?
'Winning on the road is an important point. We have come back from huge deficits. It is not an easy trip to Pullman, but I think our guys are used to that now. I don't think we will have any distractions, we will go through our normal routine. Practice in Tempe on Friday, fly up to Lewiston late Friday afternoon, and make the one-hour bus ride to Pullman. Try to get there in time for our team dinner at six, and start the meeting from 8-10. Try to make preparation as normal as we can. Your work is done in preparation, so we won't change any of that for this weekend's game.'
Are you worried at all that you don't have a player on the team that has been in this position before?
'I'm worried because were playing a good football team in Washington State. I like the way our team is playing. I like the way our team handles themselves. They believe in what we are telling them, and they believe in each other. I'm excited for this game. I think we are going to go up there and compete hard. Washington State is a good team, and we are a good team. We haven't played our best game yet. I hope we can this weekend.'
Talk about your secondary and their play.
'Every week has its own nuances on both sides of the ball based on what the other team does. Washington State is going to play a shotgun formation with five receivers. That calls for some different things, and coverage becomes paramount for the safeties. They have to play like cornerbacks, and play like receivers. They won't be able to blitz quite as much as in other teams who don't spread the field as well. I think Riccardo (Stewart) and Jason (Shivers) play a lot better when they play aggressively as opposed to when they sit back. I tell them all the time to go after the football.'
Have you seen a tackle like (WSU tackle) Ryan Long before?
'Washington State has three of the top six leaders in sacks in the league. We have Terrell Suggs, who is number 1. Ryan Long is 3rd, and two of their defensive ends are 5th and 6th. All their guys have good pass rush moves. The fact that we go against Terrell and Jimmy Verdon everyday in practice helps a lot. Washington State can bring a lot of pass rushers from a lot of different angles, so we have to put a tight-end or an extra back to get in there and block. That is going to be one of the biggest challenges for this week because we need to keep Andrew on his feet, and give him time. That's going to be the trick for us.'