Quotes from Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Nov. 8, 2004

Head Coach Dirk Koetter's Press Conference
November 8, 2004

Opening Statement:
'We gave game balls to Rudy Burgess and Zach Miller on offense. No disrespect to Andrew (Walter), we actually gave Andrew a game ball for breaking John Elway's record. We also gave game balls to Jimmy Verdon and Justin Burks on defense. When you look at the tape, Jimmy and Justin really had nice games for us. Jimmy has put a string of games together and is playing the best he has ever played. He really adjusted to the three-technique spot and had a couple of pressure hits on the quarterback on Saturday. Our captains for this game will be Andrew and Riccardo (Stewart) as always and all the other nine seniors, being how it is senior day. With the honoring of Pat Tillman, it makes it that much more special for our seniors. Before we get into our questions we would like to give our condolences to the Al Onofrio family. Coach Onofrio was at Missouri. I spent five years at Missouri; he is a legend there, as well as close to all the people here. Our condolences go to Onofrio's family.'

On fourth year with seniors:
'First of all, it's the best leadership that we've had in my four years on the inside of the football team. These guys have taken that role seriously, to the point that I have allowed them to set the team goals and mission statement. I have used those words against them, sort of, when I felt like we weren't answering the scratch. It has been a big part of our motivation this season, and those guys have been a big part of that. I'm real proud of them, plus there are some real good football players and some real good guys in there.'

On Washington State:
'Washington State is a pretty darn good football team. They lost starters of their team last year. When you put that film on and you see two returning starters you're going `that looks like the same Washington State football team from last year.' I think coach (Bill) Doba is kind of downplaying their defense. I think they're playing pretty darn well on defense. They have had some injuries in the tackle, tight end and tailback positions all year. They have been running the football a little bit more. They have their two huge offensive tackles back; those guys can play for anybody in this league. They have two big-play wide receivers, and of course the emergence of the game (Jerome) Harrison had last week. They are a good football team. I think they have won three on the road this year. They have beat us three times in a row, plus they need two wins to become bowl eligible. Coach Doba's team always plays hard, so we are going to have our hands full.'

On Pat Tillman ceremony:
'I haven't seen the timeline for that yet. I'm sure our director of football operations is working on that. Since I have not seen the timeline I can't comment on that. Obviously we have honored Pat throughout the season with the patch that we wear, and I'm sure Pat wouldn't want it any other way than winning the game first. That will be our first concern, and we will pay our respects at the right time. I'm not sure if we will be able to be out of the locker room at any given time or not.'

On Pat Tillman:
'I did not know Pat that well. I had met Pat a few times. My best memories of Pat are from when I was coaching at Oregon and we watched him on film and what a tremendous player he was. When I saw him on the field during pre-game warm-ups, for that fierce of a player, his size was not intimidating. I was amazed that that guy who was making all those plays wasn't really that big in real life. When I met Pat when he was playing for the Cardinals and he would come back, I would see him in the training room. Just the charisma that he had, you meet certain players that come back that are very comfortable going in the locker room, the weight room and training room talking to the current players. Pat was very giving back to the program. Pat was always upbeat and talking to our players. The sacrifice he made as someone who was in the business of football, the sacrifice that he made giving up a NFL career to do what he did. When you talk to our players, we do our leadership meetings two-days a week. When I ask the players to give examples of almost any characteristic, whatever the lesson is, Pat Tillman's name always comes up. He is off the charts in our respect. The fact that his name is going up in the stadium with the likes of Danny White, Whizzer White, Al Pritchard, John Jefferson, I think that is a huge testament to his place in ASU football history, Arizona State and the whole university.'

On being 5-0 at home:
'That has been one of our goals every year. I think it's something like six times in the last 50 years [note: actually 10 times in 46 years] that ASU has been undefeated at home. We are 14-4 over the last 18 games. A big part of any major program, if you're going to have a great team, you have to be tough to beat at home. We are always talking about that. I think our players realize the importance of that. It is an awesome opportunity to finish this year out.'

Walter's last home game:
'(Walter has thrown for) 9,932 yards, 4,867 [at home]. Andrew had the choice to come out, he could be all done. Andrew means a ton to this program. He is one of the major reasons we are where we are. He could be making tons of money somewhere else, in a cold-weather city somewhere. For him to come back and lead us the way he has this year has been huge. The last two home games, I know we are going remember those forever. I know I will remember them forever. He is not done yet. Andrew has a chance to put that touchdown record so far out there so the only guy that has a chance to break it is the one that we recruit in this year's class. That is going to be the next guy. I am so proud of the way Andrew has handled himself this season. We are going to miss him a lot, but we aren't going to miss him for three more games.'

On Walter playing his best in pressure situations:
'He has been the last two games, that's for sure. He said it the best last week, he played his worst game followed by his best game in the same week. The one thing that is amazing about him, no matter what situation he is in, he is a mature guy. He does not lose his composure if he is not particularly playing well and if the fans are getting on him, which is more on the road. He is always able to keep his composure. I think that is one of the big keys in a drive like that. That drive, 80-yards in two minutes and overcoming a second and 29 and his clock management was impressive. That was an impressive drive.'

On Rudy Burgess' carries:
'Rudy was pretty sore yesterday. Rudy got off to a great start after running the ball so well in the first half. After looking at tape, I wish we would have used Preston [Jones] some there in the second half. Hakim could have gone in an emergency. I felt like Hakim was about 85 percent in warm-ups. We decided if he looked 90 percent we would play him. I just thought he still looked a little bit tentative cutting on that ankle. I wish we would have used Preston more. What a huge heart. [Burgess] made some awesome plays for a guy that weighs 172 pounds. He took 66 snaps at running back, carried it 34 times, plus all of his special teams plays. He was playing on punt return, kick-off return and punt teams. I am not surprised that he can do the right thing with the ball in his hands. At this level you have a bunch of guys on your team that were high-school tailbacks. Rudy was a high-school tailback, wingback. A lot of guys at this level were the best player on their team so they touched the ball a lot. They want the ball a lot. The thing about Rudy, which has been awesome, is he will come right to you and say `give me the ball', and when you do it he does something with it. A lot of guys say they want it and when they get it they don't do anything with it. I am surprised at his durability because those are big guys out there hitting him. I'm not surprised that he has been successful running.'

On Blocked Punts:
'On both of those blocked punts, they were exactly the same rush and number 90 from Stanford made a great play. On both of those punts we had Jamar [Williams] playing the personal protector because Riccardo had been hurt last week and we didn't get a chance to use Riccardo in practice. Jamar is usually one of our on-line guys on punt team, and is in fact one of our leading tacklers on punt. We had to move Jamar to PP and Jamar had to sit up. On most blocked punts a guy runs around the edge and gets two hands on it. On both of these, Jamar was exactly square on him [number 90] and 90 reached his hand right over Jamar's shoulder. Both punts were flat instead of a height trajectory and both times he just reached his hand up there and his hand hit the ball perfectly on both of them. When we looked at the tape yesterday and Coach Osborne was telling Jamar that he has to be a little big more aggressive, which he hadn't really been in that position before. His fit was fine, but you have to give a lot of credit to number 90 for Stanford for two nice blocked punts. Things are going to happen in the course of a game, we dropped a punt that they recovered, and they dropped a punt that we recovered. By far the most frustrating thing by our special teams were three 15-yard penalties. Instead of them starting at the 20, they start at the 35. And two other ones, we would have had the ball around midfield, but instead we started with the ball somewhere inside our 10. At this point in the season, you shouldn't have the same guys making the same mistakes. Two guys that made the same mistakes are two of our better special teams guys, but they have also made multiple penalties. That is the most frustrating thing, to have illegal blocks in the back in game eight.'

On WSU quarterback and running game:
'Swogger has a huge, huge arm. It's impressive how he can drop back and remind you of Andrew. Alex brink is a kid we are very familiar with. We recruited him and he was also in our camp. Coach Doba mentioned he is a very sharp guy, very accurate. I am a big Alex brink fan. I think he is going to be a big star in the future and he's only a redshirt-freshman. His thing is just experience right now. He is going to be a fine Pac-10 quarterback another in long line of great Washington State quarterbacks. Now, they are running the ball better and they have three tailbacks that they rotate in there. They have had their moments this season. They are using two backs in the backfield which is unusual for them. They're just doing more basic, hard-nosed football.'

Washington State Head Coach Bill Doba
11/8 Press Teleconference

On backup QB Alex Brink:
'He's a very intelligent young man. He has good accuracy with the ball and he makes good decisions with the ball. He doesn't have the arm strength that Josh Swogger has, which is probably why he didn't get the starting job. This week was the first chance he [Brink] got to play when he wasn't behind. Obviously, we kept the running game going a little bit. He's a joy to work with and he has a little bit more mobility than Swogger.'

On Jerome Harrison's performance against UCLA:
'Jerome is a kid from Pasadena City College, so he was gong back home. He's not a real big kid, but has real good lateral movement. The best thing about him is that he has patience. He's small enough that [opposing defenses] can't see him. He hides behind the line until there is a crease and he can make the break. He had an exceptional game last Saturday against UCLA.'

On the team losing confidence during losing streak:
'We'll see. I think being able to stop that 2-point play really helped us. We lost to Oregon right at the end. We had a chance against Stanford at the end to go down late in the game and score, but we didn't make it happen. It's going to be tough to build confidence against a team like Arizona State. The thing that concerns me more than anything is Andrew Walter. [With all the things that he has done], that is a sign of a winner. Coach Koetter has done a great job.'

On importance of the running game:
'I think it's huge if we can run the ball. The problem is that [the ASU] defense is pretty darn good, too. I really like ASU's linebackers. Jimmy Verdon is a great football player. The defense impresses me because they line up in the 4-3 front, that's what we run. Also, they're very aggressive and they really run around the ball. It's difficult to run the ball against a defense like that. The more we run the ball and take time off the clock, the better chance we have. That's easier said than done.'

On the importance of winning this weekend for a chance at a winning record:
'It would be huge. We have gone to three bowl games and it would be really great if we could go to four. Primarily, I would like to finish on a winning note for our seniors as much as anything. We don't have a lot of them, but they're good people. Some have been around for 4 and 5 years and they've paid the price. I'd like to see them go out winners if we could.'

On the play of the defense:
'We played a little better this week. We've really had an unusual season. We lost both starting defensive tackles against Colorado. They're both back, but they're not 100%. Then on Saturday we lost another one of our starting tackles. And then we lost both tight ends against Arizona. We've had injuries before, but never two in one position. Now we're playing 3's and 4's, so we're struggling. I think that was the big reason why we were able to run the ball last week, we had two tight ends back and we were able to spread the defense out.'

On play of special teams:
'We've been struggling. One of the big problems is that Brian Hall and Jevon Miller are injured. We would like to keep our starters out of there as much as possible. I think we proved to ourselves last week that we can compete. We may have to bring offensive starters and defensive starters on to special teams. We've struggled with the kicking game. Loren Langley [WSU place kicker] is going to be a great kicker. He gets the ball up very quickly and he gets height and altitude on the ball. He has missed half of his kicks, but he only misses by inches. He's getting close and it's just a confidence thing.'

On inconsistency at Washington State:
'I think we have gotten better. It's just been one of those years. People have just played well against us. The only way to address that is to recruit. We can coach and we have some good players. In order to recruit you have to have the facilities. That is why we have become more consistent.'

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