Mike Riley Meets The Press
Sept. 23, 2003
CORVALLIS, Ore. - -
CAN YOU GIVE US A RECAP ON HOW THE TEAM IMPROVED FROM THE WEEK BEFORE AGAINST BOISE STATE?
'I think that overall, we made progress in some areas, for sure. It was a very good football game; overall, I think there was a lot of balance by both teams. I think both teams had to fight. I appreciated, on their part, how they came back, and then we had to respond. There were a lot of issues in the ballgame, plus a lot of good plays. Overall, we did improve in some areas that were important to us. We still have some inconsistency problems, for sure, but we've got more to work with now. I think we're building from a better base; each week, we've improved.'
WHAT DID IOWA DO TO HOLD ARIZONA STATE TO NO OFFENSIVE POINTS?
'I think the thing they did was they did a nice job controlling the running game, and then they were able to get pretty darn good pressure with a four-man rush, and that's easier said than done. Iowa is a very physical, good football team, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in how that game went, except for the fact that that's how they were able to do it. And that's not easy to do. You've got to have pretty darn good people having a good day to put that kind of pressure on with a four-man rush.'
DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT IOWA WAS ABLE TO DO THAT, KNOWING HOW TALENTED ARIZONA STATE IS AND HOW TOUGH IT WILL BE TO SHUT THEM DOWN TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS?
'We know their capabilities. They're explosive. They burst on the scene last year when Walter took over (at quarterback). All I remember seeing is Arizona State guys running away behind everybody else and catching long passes, so we know that they're very capable. They have a nice system to go with their quarterback, and they do a good job with him. We're taking this game based on not just the last game's performance or this year's performance, but what we know of their system. They have a program that has done a great job of bringing Arizona State back to the forefront - they were one of the preseason conference favorites, and deservedly so, so we're expecting a very good football team and a tough game.'
WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC THINGS YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR AGAINST ASU'S OFFENSE?
'They like to throw the ball down the field. They've made big plays in the past, and we've been inconsistent, obviously, in that regard. We've given up too many big plays, so therein lies a great matchup I think.'
ON THE THIRD-AND-19 PLAY TO Kenny Farley (LATE IN THE GAME WITH BOISE STATE), WAS HE THE FIRSTOPTION ON THE PLAY?
'It's kind of a bang-bang option play, but he is a primary receiver on that play. We just wanted to give a little play action - I'm not sure that play action on third-and-19 is a great idea - but in that situation at that time of the game, the chances of making that are not good. If you look at the books, it's probably less than five percent. So, we faked a little draw action and threw the ball down over the middle. Derek (Anderson) could actually throw the post or to Kenny running across the middle.'
FARLEY HADN'T REALLY DONE MUCH TO THAT POINT - THAT WAS A HUGE PLAY.
'It was a major play, and a very unlikely conversion, when you look at it. It played a big, big factor in us keeping the ball, obviously. We were able to keep it for the last 7 ï¿½ minutes of the game, which is a rewarding way to end the game.'
TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTHS OF ANDREW WALTER
'I've met him, and I think he's got some great personal characteristics about him. He's a classy young man and is well-spoken. He appears to be very confident without being cocky - he's a nice young man. I heard an interview with him on the radio, and he handled himself very well. He's got those kinds of things to go with that arm, and I think (he has) confidence in the system. A big part of quarterbacking is confidence, and I think he's that kind of a guy. Maybe they haven't been on track quite like they would like to be, like us, it's the same situation, but they are still very capable of being very explosive. He is the instigator of all that.'
LAST YEAR, ASU HAD TERRELL SUGGS, WHO SET THE SACK RECORD. ARE THEY DOING DIFFERENT THINGS THIS YEAR DEFENSIVELY BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE A TERRELL SUGGS?
'They are still pretty darn good up front. They have athletes, and they are pretty big. This is by far the best front we will have played, so we will be tested, for sure.'
THEIR SECONDARY SEEMS TO MAKE A LOT OF PLAYS. IT THAT A FUNCTION OF A LOT OF BLITZING? WHAT KIND OF PLAYERS DO THEY HAVE IN THE SECONDARY?
'They have a nice blitz package, which does involve their secondary - their safeties will blitz. They always try to overload you from one side or the other - they'll bring four guys from one side, which can overload a number of protections, so I think we have to be careful with them a little bit. That's where those guys are making those kinds of plays if they're getting sacks or hurries or knockdowns, that's what's happening.'
TALK ABOUT Kirk Yliniemi AND WHAT HE PROVIDES AS FAR AS A SECURITY BLANKET - HE'S JUST NEARLY PERFECT TIME AFTER TIME.
'He's a very stable guy, and probably the best compliment you can give a kicker is consistency and reliability, and I think that's what we have in him. You pretty much know what you're going to get every week.'
TO CONTINUE WITH KIRK, COMING BACK FROM THE APENDECTOMY, WAS THAT A SURPRISE TO YOU THAT HE WAS THAT EFFECTIVE ON SATURDAY, OR WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU EXPECTED?
'I think, with Kirk's character, you probably could say that he was willing (himself to get better) from after it first happened, to get back and get going again, which is a big, big factor in anybody's rehab with any injury. So he was really willing and trying to get back. The second thing is, is that he's a reliable person, and he told me he was ready to go and this is what he thought he could do, that he wanted to kick field goals and not necessarily kick off yet. He felt very comfortable in doing that and I believed him, and he came through.'
ASU'S OFFENSE WAS BEING TALKED ABOUT COMING INTO THE YEAR, BUT SO FAR, ITS DEFENSE HAS STEPPED UP - THEY'RE 21ST IN THE NATION IN RUN DEFENSE - LIKE GOING INTO A TOUGH PLACE LIKE IOWA. DIDTHAT SURPRISE YOU AT ALL?
'That's the other thing about that game. Iowa won the game, but it was not easy for them. They did get one big pass that made a big difference in the ballgame, but it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy for them to run the ball. Of course, we need to run the football, and that is a factor in the game.'
COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE ATMOSPHERE HERE BEFORE A GAME WHEN YOU WERE HERE THE FIRST TIME AND HOW IT IS NOW.
'It is very different. One scout told me that when he was driving in for a game way back when, he did not see anything to show for the fact that there was a game (that day). There were not many people around town wearing orange. All of the different stuff that's going on right now - it's absolutely amazing the turnaround in the last five years.'
AFTER A SLOW START EARLY, ARE YOU PLEASED WITH HOW Derek Anderson HAS BOUNCED BACK IN THE LAST TWO GAMES?
'We talked earlier about how important it is for a quarterback to have poise and confidence, and I think we have a chance to build on improvement. I think that he definitely improved against New Mexico State, and then obviously improved against Boise State. So I'm excited about that, and I think he should be too. He made a lot of very, very nice throws and did it with a lot of poise. He really saw things very well in the ballgame. He really had the kind of vision that's important. If you put it in simple terms of 'drop back and hit the open guy,' he was able to find the open guys pretty well. He had a lot of big plays - a lot of big hits in the ballgame.'
YOU'VE HAD SEVERAL CHANGES IN THE OFFENSIVE LINE SINCE YOU STARTED FALL CAMP. ARE YOU GOING TO STICK WITH THIS LINEUP OR IS THE JURY STILL OUT?
'The change was David Lose going in, and that moved (Brian) Kilkenny to tackle. That was our next move (in the event of) an injury anyway, so we had prepared for that. So, it might seem like a major change, but I don't think that for our team it was a major change. Kilkenny had been playing tackle before and was prepared and knowledgeable enough to do that. Of course, Lose has been a guard, so that went fairly smoothly. We always leave it open for competition - I think Brandon Lockheart is going to be a good player and will compete again for that position, but right now we'll stay status quo.'
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT Steven Jackson HASN'T BROKEN A LONG RUN YET, OR IS THAT A PRODUCT OF NINE GUYS FOLLOWING HIS EVERY MOVE?
'They are very, very aware of him, and (opponents) get a lot of people to him as soon as they possibly can, but you should do that with any runner. We've been so close, it's silly. It's going to happen, and I hope Saturday night it happens. That's the nature of that kind of thing - it's just been close. We just haven't quite busted out of it yet. When we do, he'll have another of those 250-yard games.'
NOW THAT PAC-10 PLAY IS FINALLY HERE, IS THERE ANY WAY YOU PREPARE DIFFERENTLY?
'No. You like to think that you prepare your best for every ballgame, and every one of these has been important to us - important for winning, important for our growth, and we prepare very hard for all our games. We're not going to all of a sudden change anything or try to do more - we practice right to what I think is the limit of our team's physical capabilities. So, no.'
ASU IS A TEAM THAT A LOT OF TEAMS THOUGHT WOULD WIN THE PAC-10 AND SEEMS TO HAVE UNDERACHIEVED SO FAR. ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT UNDERESTIMATING THEM?
'I don't think so. I think we'll be ready to play. Our team understands that in the Pac-10 right now, anybody can beat anybody. So I don't foresee us at all overlooking them. They only lost one ballgame, so I don't know that they've exactly stumbled. They've been like us - we haven't been entirely pleased with our consistency at all either. We've definitely stumbled ourselves.'
ASU HAS TALKED ABOUT TRYING TO GET THE RUNNING GAME GOING AND BEING FRUSTRATED BY BEING IN SECOND-AND-LONG A LOT, HAVE YOU NOTICED ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
'It's a great point, and it's what we really think is important with our own team, and I know they do to, is that you have to have some passes on first down when you take a shot downfield, and your percentage (on those) is obviously not going to be as high. But you need to have some high-percentage first-down passes that are almost consistent with getting a run for at least plus-four yards. You don't want to play from behind in second-and-long and third-and-long very often, because the percentages just go down on converting. So the balance between taking a shot and being high-percentage on first down and running the ball effectively on first down - I know exactly what (ASU coach Dirk Koetter) is talking about. That's been their approach and that's a great approach to winning football games.'
WILL Chaz Scott BE BACK THIS WEEK?
'Chaz Scott will be practicing minimally today, and then more tomorrow, and we'll know for sure by Thursday.'
HOW ABOUT Seth Lacey?
'Seth is almost the same way, but probably not as far along as Chaz. I would anticipate that Trent (Bray) will be starting at this point.'