Quotes from Sam Keller's National Teleconference
Sept. 27, 2005
Tempe, Ariz. -
'The game comes up because of the circumstance, but the game itself is irrelevant. We're a different team from the '96 team. I think USC is a better team than that
Does looking at the season as taking one game at a time serve any lessons in playing USC?
'Absolutely, and that's exactly what we're going to do. That's exactly what we didn't do last year. We were too worried about the outcome and if you think about that and you go into a game playing a team like USC and once they get going, you forget about it. We were done. That's exactly what we're going to do this year, just take it one play at a time and block out that the team is USC. They're the number one team in the country and that's an opportunity that everybody looks for.'
Talk about the play of the offensive line so far this season
'Outstanding. Those guys are so good. All of my success is attributed to those guys and the guys making plays around me. It's a pleasure to have those guys. They are very experienced and always in the film room. They're dedicated and the work well together and have a strong leader in Grayling [Love]. It's a very cohesive, good unit and they're playing very well right now.
Have the offensive line exceeded team expectations?
'They have exceeded them. When you only get sacked four times all year, that's a presence. They give you a lot of time to make throws and that's all I can ask for.'
How much does confidence play into your ability to play the game?
'I think it's important as a quarterback to have confidence. My style is to have a little swagger. First and foremost I value on being humble. I wouldn't say I am cocky. I would never be outwardly cocky to another team or try to get in their face at all. Confidence is very important and I have a lot when I play and when I'm on the field. That has a lot to do with how my teammates are. If you're a quarterback and you're good you have got to be confident.'
Do you feel the offense can score quickly and how can that change the outcome of the game?
'We can score on one play or we can score on eleven plays. We have the capabilities on offense and we have the game planning to take whatever the defense gives us. We have a lot of playmakers and a lot of experienced guys and guys can do anything. We have great tight ends and a line that blocks well. Now, we have step up our running game. We have a lot of things on offense that can pose a lot of problems for opposing defenses. We can explode at any time.'
Will the USC game be a shootout?
'We're going to try and score every time we get the ball. We're going to attack and watch film this week. We're going to attack what their weaknesses are. Given that their offense is so good and the score a lot of points, we're going to have to score a lot of points too. I could see there being a shootout, but I think our defense is going to come ready to play, too.'
Does last year's loss to USC have an effect on this game?
'It's a bitter taste because that wasn't us, that wasn't ASU football at all. It was a point of worrying too much about beating them instead of playing them and instead of competing. Our team, this year, is all about competing one play at a time and we did that against LSU. We're not worried about how we look. We just go out there and grind it out because we have tough guys. It's going to weigh in because we we're a part of that team and that loss did make us mad. This year is going to be totally different.'
On toughness in being a quarterback.
'It's just another thing that goes along with the QB position. You're a sitting duck sometimes and I'm going to stand in the pocket and look to throw the ball. I'm not scared to take a hit. I don't get happy feet when the pocket breaks down. I have a good feel for hanging in there and throwing it, because you're going to have an extra second or half-second to throw it. If you're not tough, you have no chance.'
On the play of Keegan Herring and how upperclassmen will help to deal with a big-game situation.
'Keegan's a very good player and doing what he had done as a freshman is very impressive. He just hits the whole so hard and he's through there, so you have to respect that as a defense and play downhill when he gets the ball. If there is an opening, he'll get through quick and he runs hard. He's a stud, but he had trouble holding on to the ball with fumbling a few times. He's corrected that and he will be ready for this game. All he has to do is follow the holes the offensive line opens for him.'
Will this game be a coming out party for the Sun Devils to gain nationwide recognition?
'I don't look at it as a coming out party. I just look at it as another game. A game against the best team I will ever play. I've already shown what I can do in games and I've been fairly consistent. I think it's a product of great coaching and I have a lot of athletes around me. If you want to call it a coming out party, that's fine, but I don't see it that way. I see it as a coming out party for our entire team and for our school being on the national level of College Gameday. That's the most important thing.'
How important is it to see USC as a beatable team?
'It's extremely important if you want to win. If you look at how good they've done and how good they are, they are fantastic on both sides of the ball. You're beating yourself before you step on the field. They are just college kids, just like us. USC is well coached and they play well and we're well coached and we can play well. We just have to not worry about their aura and they've earned that for a reason. That can't play into our mind-set. We have the leaders and players that will make sure if anyone is wide-eyed out there that will stop very fast.'
Have players talked about College Gameday being in
'That's really neat, that's going to be a lot of fun. It's the epitome of college football. It's special because it epitomizes college football right now. It's good for the school'
Do you feel the offense has to score every time you get the ball?
'We have a sense of urgency that every time we touch it we have to score. We have that sense of urgency with no matter who we play. We want to get up, get in there and score. If you look ahead and see what kind of offense USC has, they're going to put up a lot of points. Our offense is going to have to put up points to stop them. To come out victorious, we're going to have to put some points on the board. One thing to look at is our defense. Our defense is going to be just fine and they're going to come ready to play. We have guys on defense that will rise to the task.'
On the importance of stats.
'I've always been a guy who has put up numbers. I think right now in college, it's a product of how good my coaches are with game planning. In Coach Koetter's offense, everyone knows it's a throwing offense. It's a very intelligent offense and puts a lot on the quarterback. We've had a good things going so far and when we game plan, we are able to find holes and exploit other teams weaknesses. My stats and my success are a part of that and how explosive our wideouts are and my line. Everyone is clicking right now.'
On talking to past players in preparation of this game?
'I haven't talked to anybody, this year about playing SC. The player I learned most from was Andrew [Walter] and just playing behind him. He brought a certain level of calm and he was very good at preparing for games. If I can take anything from him was good preparation and perfect game planning. I've done a good job so far and that's what I'm going to continue to do this week.'
On the play of the USC offense
'I've had a chance to see their offense and their highlights are all over the TV. Those guys have earned it and those guys are very impressive. Their new offensive coordinator is doing just fine. I've had a chance to watch them. They're fun to watch, but our offense is fun to watch, too.'
Is there anything that USC does exceptionally well?
'They just put their great athletes in great positions to be mismatched. They will line up [Reggie] Bush and you'll be so worried about him, they'll give the ball to [Dwanye] Jarret or they'll pound it up the middle with [LenDale] White. They always keep you on your toes with their schemes and their play action. They are just a well oiled machine.'
What will Zach Miller bring now that he will return?
'Anytime he is in the game, he makes plays. He will probably have a lot of catches this week and he'll be in there because if they play cover 2 and leave the middle of the field open he'll be getting balls and matching up against linebackers. You can't forget about Jamal Lewis or all our other wideouts. So,Zach adds another dimension that we all know is special.'
Talk about the differences between Zach Miller and Jamal Lewis.
'There aren't many differences. Zach is maybe a bit thicker, maybe more physical and maybe a better blocker at this point. Jamal is a little bit faster and a little bit more toward a wide receiver spectrum. Zach is more toward the tight end of the spectrum in terms of athletic ability.'