Quotes From ASU Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference
Nov. 10, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. -- 'I wish I had some magic words to tell you that we are going to turn this thing around and make it better. Right now we're in a tough stretch and all we can do is keep getting back up. You get knocked down, you have to get back up again. We have to keep doing the little things right and eventually this will get turned back to the way we want it to go.
'In the Stanford game we didn't do all the little things right. I thought our team played very hard and kept fighting up until the very end but you just can't dig yourself into that kind of a hole in the first 10 minutes of the game against a Pac-10 school and expect to come out on top. We started off with two turnovers on our end of the field and left our defense with a short field. Third-down wise we were not very good on offense and we couldn't stop them on defense. We had eight dropped passes and 15 missed tackles; those things aren't conducive to winning football games in the Pac-10. We have to correct those things, correct them in practice and just keep working on them, that's all we can do.
'We didn't have players of the week on offense or defense, but we did have Jason Shivers on special teams. Jason played 86 snaps on defense and he never comes off the field on special teams. He's on every special teams unit, except he wasn't on kickoff return this week. On punt returns we had Josh Golden and Terry Richardson both go down and all of a sudden Jason Shivers was back there returning punts. This was the type of game where we had guys going down left and right so as far as the special teams depth chart, it goes out the window in hurry.
'Terry Richardson sprained his ankle on the second kick return of the game and that put our return game in limbo. Josh Golden banged up his shoulder and had a slight separation. Brett Hudson hurt his foot and missed some time so we were down there. Emmanuel Franklin and Daniel Varvel had hamstring problems, we thought they would be able to contribute and they weren't able to go. Riccardo Stewart didn't start he didn't practice all of last week with a shoulder injury. Matt Fawley had his best game, he led the team in tackles with 12. Riccardo was only able to play about 40 plays in the game and he continues to be bothered by the sore shoulder.
'Loren Wade got a concussion on his fumble. He was cleared to come back into the game, he came back and got dinged a little bit more and now he's day-to-day, but I figure he will play this week. We're already missing Hakim Hill, but I thought Randy Hill came in and did a nice job. Skyler Fulton and Andrew Walter were already playing on bum ankles, as was Brian Montesanto. I think all of those guys will be ready this week and a few are day-to-day.
'The extra captains for the Washington State game will be Mike Karney and Jimmy Verdon. Washington State is playing as well as anybody in the league right now; their defense is playing fantastic football. They're sitting with two losses, USC and Notre Dame, and in watching that Notre Dame tape it's hard to see how they lost. What really jumps out about their defense on film is how fast they are. They get after the offense very well and are leading the league with 38 takeaways and they really set up their offense consistently with a short field. They're leading the league in turnovers created, they're leading in sacks, they're leading in third-down defense and then their offense had been really opportunistic. I think they have seven guys on that team with over 20 catches. Darling had 38 to lead them. Sammy Moore is something like sixth or seventh on their team, but he averages 23 yards per catch. I said going into the year that Washington State was a team to be reckoned with because of all their speed. The one question was with their quarterback and obviously Kegel has had a very fine season.
'There were a lot of turnovers last week for Washington State against UCLA, 14 total, seven for each team and I think there were about the same number in the Oregon State game before that. Washington State is playing well and we have a huge challenge, one which we're looking forward to in going up to Pullman and playing on ABC this Saturday.'
Is there anything you can do to fix the season or is it a case of you are where you are?
'I think you are what you are, I think you have to do a better job with what you're doing. Two weeks ago when I decided to go to shells in practice, as we've done in past seasons, we didn't respond very well. We felt like we had to go back and practice hard because the things we're not doing very well in the games, those things can only be fixed by practicing. You can't tackle better if you don't practice tackling. We did come back and practice better this week. It didn't entirely show up in the game but there were facets of the game where it did show up. We played much harder overall than we did before the week against Cal.
'We're not going to make our team any healthier by practicing any harder; we're a beat up football team right now. But those are just the rules of the game. We have to move forward. People are telling me that we have to play our younger players and we are playing our younger players. You have to realize that a certain percentage of the team is redshirting. We have several young guys who could be helping us on the field right now, but we'd be foolish as a coaching staff to burn a guy's redshirt year so late in the season. You never try to burn a guy's redshirt year past the fourth game of the season unless it's an absolute emergency.
'We have about 35 players who play the majority of the snaps for us, then we have the group of guys that are redshirting, then we have a group that's kind of in the middle there. Some guys continue to improve and they're seeing their goals increase, guys like Jamaal Lewis and Randy Hill are examples of that. Mike Davis came out and played well against Stanford. For other guys, this isn't going to be their year and they aren't capable of helping us right now.'
Are you prepared more or matched up better with Washington State's defensive speed?
'Well, I'd like to know how you prepare more for somebody's speed. There is no team in the Pac-10 that has the speed on defense that Washington State does. USC has an excellent defense, but man one through 11, there is no team in the Pac-10 that can match Washington State's speed.'
Will you do anything different in pass protection to protect more with Andrew's bad ankle?
'We threw the ball 51 times last week and gave up one sack, we're still third in the Pac-10 for fewest sacks allowed. Probably the best unit on our football team right now is our offensive line. It's unfortunate that we've got behind these past couple of weeks because our offensive line is blocking well. The fact that in 51 tries Andrew is sacked only once is good, and that one time he was sacked, we blocked everybody we could block. We had seven and they brought eight and that's something you don't see too often. Based on Washington State's blitz packages, you have to be very smart about how you protect your quarterback. I've been watching film all day of Washington State hitting quarterbacks and they turn the ball over; it happens every game. You can't give these guys a free shot at your quarterback.'
With your best possible finish being .500, how do you get the players up for the game?
'I think that the players know very well where we are. My overall philosophy is that, if you're a competitor, you show up and compete. We have a group of seniors, guys like Brian Montesanto, Mike Karney, Regis Crawford, and we have to tell the team that we need to finish the season on a high note for those guys. We can play the role of spoiler this week and I don't think we'll have any problem getting up for the game against Arizona, that's the most important game on our schedule.'
What is the status of Daryl Lightfoot?
'Daryl is suspended indefinitely.'
Does the question of who Washington State may play at quarterback affect your defense?
'The defensive coaches are on that, I've been watching the other side of the ball. All we have is their last game to look at their other quarterback. I know Kegel has been quoted as saying that he will practice on Wednesday. I think for sure you would make changes if you knew he wasn't going to play, but we don't know that for sure.'
How involved are you in recruiting during the season? How is the transition?
'There really is no transition. Recruiting is year-round. We are way further along than we've ever been, we've already had 20 official visits and we have three more huge weekends before the year is up. There really is no transition, we are right in the middle of recruiting. We used last Friday and had seven coaches on the road up and down California. On the bye week we will have seven coaches on the road using our last evaluation days.'
How much of Washington State's pass rush is their ends and how much is their blitz?
'Both. Those ends are fast. They almost look like wide receivers coming off the edge. They are one of the teams that can get to you in a four-man rush, but they don't sit around waiting for the four-man rush. They have no problem bringing five, six and seven a lot. They bring their linebackers, they bring their safeties. They are very, very aggressive with their blitz packages, maybe as aggressive as any team we've seen.'
Did you see more passion from the team this week?
'Absolutely. They did a good job, they hung in there, and even when we were down there at the end and it was raining hard, those guys played hard in the fourth quarter. We still had a chance to cut their lead right back down in the fourth quarter and get it down to ten points.'
Was the slick ball a factor at the Stanford game?
'I'd say possibly. It's not like we play a lot in those conditions. Again, I think we had eight drops, and uncharacteristic drops by Skyler Fulton and Derek Hagan. Hagan still made a couple of fantastic catches and runs afterwards. What is kind of ironic is that Matt Miller had dropped a couple of balls in the first half when the weather was good, and as the game wore on and the weather got worse and worse he made three fantastic catches. I don't think we can blame anything on the weather.'