Sun Devil Football Student-Athlete Quotes from Media Day 2006

Aug. 5, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. -




Senior quarterback Sam Keller

On what to expect from CampTontozona:
'We have to make the most of it. We have a lot of guys that can make a lot of plays. We have a lot of seniors who are running the team from top to bottom. Our destiny is what we make of it. We have to work hard and put all the right pieces in to place.'
On the pros and cons of CampTontozona

'I like being with the guys. You miss the comforts of home but you really want to be with your teammates. The anticipation for the season builds up and you get a lot of work done.' 
On the isolation of camp:

'The isolation of camp was hard to adjust to when I was younger but now I know what is coming. We aren't up there for long. Last year was a lot less difficult. I knew when I would be home. This year I'll appreciate it more because it's my last year.' 
On USC and Cal being ranked higher in the preseason Pac-10 poll:

'We have to earn our spot on the list by beating those teams. The final ranking is the one that matters. We have to earn it by beating the California schools on their own turf. We have the talent to do it. We just have to do it.' 
On the new Pac-10 schedule: 

'The new schedule is going to test our adversity because we have a big block of games on the road.  If one team in the Pac-10 is undefeated, but they don't play one team, they are going to catch flack for that one game.  But now everyone plays each other in the conference.  I think the schedule is great.  It is just one more game to play.' 


On pre-season approach:

'It would be easy to change my approach, but I can't.  I have always gone out the same way.  I just go out and try to be a good quarterback.  The best player is going to play.  That's what we've been saying all along.  I couldn't help what happened to my thumb.  I never once made an excuse or felt sorry for myself.  That's the way the cards are dealt.  Now I'm just going after it like I always have.'


On the immediacy of being a senior:

'It goes fast when you look back and think about it.  I remember when I was just a freshman going in there against UCLA.  I feel like an old man now.  I really haven't been here that long.  It did go fast and it is going to be surreal.'  


On being Walter's back up:

'It was best for the team for me to be Andrew Walter's back up.  I came in at camp and picked up the offense pretty quick.  It would be selfish, or me over the team, to think that I was going to start.  That wasn't my path or what was best for the team at that time.' 


On the quarterback competition with Rudy Carpenter:

'At the position of quarterback there is always going to be competition.  Some people might disagree, but there was still competition when I was playing with Andrew [Walter].  There is only one guy who can play quarterback.  When there is a guy that comes in and plays just as well as you.  It is what it is.  It is the nature of the position.  And if you are afraid of that competition, then you are afraid of competition on the real field.'


On playing behind Andrew Walter:

'I like Andrew a lot.  We were close.  He was always seen as a quiet, stoic guy but he opened up around me.  He is a good guy.  He taught me how to prepare for a game and how to carry your self.  He is very professional.  He taught me to be my self but to also carry that type of professionalism.  Having that mentality is what I took from him and I'll always have that as a quarterback.' 


On the offense:

'If you put the time into learning the offense and use the coaches and Coach Koetter as a resource, you can do anything.  Coach Koetter is as smart as they come.  That is one of the reasons I came here and I'm happy I came here.  He makes it happen.'


On the defensive struggle:

'We just try to go out and try to score every time we have the ball.  We try to score on every play, every time.  When the defense holds them and shuts them out, like we did against Iowa a couple years ago, that's all the better.  We don't try to compensate for the defense.  There are a lot of games where we got scored on and we kept answering.  I think our defense will be really good this year.' 


Sophomore quarterback Rudy Carpenter

On the competition at quarterback:

'I had no idea I was going start in the middle of the season.  At the end of the season we never addressed who would start the next season.  Coach told us that we were both great players and the best player is going to play.  We can't make any decisions until the last day of practice.  We are all anxiously waiting for that. 


When you are an athlete, especially if you are a quarterback, competition is a part of the game.  I talk to Sam [Keller] all the time.  I think it is going to make us better players.  We work hard every day.  If something happen to one of us, the other will be ready to play.' 


On the decision of who is going to play quarterback:

'I know that I'm not the one to make the decision on who is going to play quarterback and neither is Sam [Keller].  I'm not going to be mad at him and I don't think he is going to be mad at me.  Whose ever name is called is going to be happy and whose name isn't called is going to be served a big piece of humble pie.  I could never be mad at Sam [Keller] or Coach Koetter.  I should be mad at myself.' 


On his on-field persona:

'It is kind of when you watch boxing.  A lot of those guys are really nice and then they step into the ring and they are a whole different person.  When you are out there playing in front of 60, 70, 80,000 people it is a whole different experience.  It's like a fire or an intensity that you can't get anywhere else.  That's what makes it so fun.' 


On CampTontozona being shorter:

'I think it is positive having Camp Tonotozona shorter.  We are getting the same amount of practice time whether or not we are at camp or at ASU.  At camp, you are getting up early, not sleeping in your own bed and you can't talk to your parents or friends.  You are isolated.  Being at ASU is a little better.  You are actually in civilization.'


On ASU being overlooked in the preseason polls:

'I think it is a good thing to be overlooked.  I believe when you are rated so high and you don't meet the expectations, I think you set your self up for failure.  I think people underestimating us.  We know how good we are.  That is all that matters.  The teams will find out as soon as we play.' 


On the offensive line affecting how good a quarterback can be:

'It always comes down to the offensive linemen.  How big, strong, fast someone is, it doesn't matter.  You aren't going to do anything with out a great offensive line.  Our offensive line is great.  Mike Pollak, Andrew Carnahan, Brandon Rodd, all those guys are great.  They are going to be some of the strongest points in our offense line.' 


On playing in ASU's offense:

'When you are a quarterback, the offense is why you come to ASU.  I never understood why, if you are a top quarterback, you wouldn't want to come to ASU.  You can go to any other school and hand the ball off.  I want to throw touchdown passes.  That's why I came here.  You put up numbers.  You make the games exciting.  Sam [Keller] does a great job with the offense.'


Junior tight end/H-back Zach Miller

On CampTontozona:

'I like that it's shorter. It's nice being able to sleep in our own beds more, it helps the team recover better. We can practice better down here since our field is bigger. The one up there is much smaller; we only have the one field. The weather is nicer up there but overall it's much better being at home.

            People would get on each others nerves sometimes; it's hard not to do that when you're with these guys for that long of a period of time.

            The worst part about it used to be the beds, but they just got new ones so we're excited about that. The two-a-days are probably the hardest part; they're tough. It's part of football, and it makes us better, but they're tough.'


On people's expectations for him:

'I'm mainly focused on having a good year. I will think about the NFL after the season is over. Right now, I'm just hoping to stay injury free and have a good season.'


On what he'd like to accomplish in his college career:

'I've always dreamed of winning a Pac-10 Championship and going to the Rose Bowl. I grew up in Arizona watching ASU and the Pac-10 and we have a good team this year that can do that.'


On being a First Team Preseason All American:

'It's a tribute to the team. The credit goes to the team because without them I would have never gotten there. It is a great honor.'


On what the team needs to do to accomplish goals:

'We need to be disciplined. We can't fall into high and lows; we need to be consistent year round. Once we settle on a quarterback we need to stick with him. The team just needs to play well in all areas, offense, defense and special teams.'


On the quarterback situation:

'It is healthy competition. Both Sam and Rudy are guys of character. They both will support the other once one is chosen as a starter. It is good to have two quarterbacks like them because we all know how frequently quarterbacks go down.'


On the Pac-10 Conference:

'The Pac-10 is a very athletic conference. Anyone can win on any given day. Every game we've got to play our best. You can't have a let down, can't have a day off. It should be fun playing every team in the conference this year. The race for the Pac-10 championship is wide open.'


On this years team to last years:

'The team is older and more experienced this year. We didn't lose too many guys and who we lost we have other guys that can step up. Our offensive line, wide outs, defense, everywhere is more experienced.'


On his individual goals for the season:

'I just need to stay healthy. I also would like to improve my stats from my freshman year.'


On the team's goals:

'We want to make it to the Rose Bowl and be Pac-10 champions, and we are capable of that.'


On playing USC:

'We're looking forward to that game a lot. We played them there my freshman year and got beat pretty bad and last year was a close game. They're due for some payback.'


Junior wide receiver Rudy Burgess

On this year's receiving unit:

'The core group of receivers that we have this season are looking really good. We have a lot of talent and we will be able to pass and move the ball well.'


On the quarterback position this season:

'It has put a lot of competition on the offense, everybody is competing for a spot.  I think right now everyone is just trying to fight for that spot through camp and hopefully the best man will come out of it.'


On the team so far this season:

'We have a lot of young guys, but that will be good for us in the future. It will allow us to build depth at a lot of positions.  We are going to be able to get more guys on the field which will definitely be helpful during games.'


On playing different positions this season:

'I'm really looking forward to being everywhere on the field and really contributing to the team, whether it's at receiver, cornerback or special teams.  Playing cornerback this spring has been a different experience.  I had to get used to it really quickly, but I think I just get more reps at it I will be in good shape.'


On the improvements made to the team for the upcoming season:

'I think our depth this year at running back and receivers, really our depth on offense and defense will help.  Our coaches did a great job of recruiting and bringing in the best players that we could.'


Sophomore tailback Keegan Herring

On what he's worked to improve during the offseason:

'The main point that I've been working on is my agility, working on my cuts and seeing the field better. I also worked to get my weight up so that I could take more hits and I also wanted to improve my blocking and picking up blitzes. '


On the influence that first-year offensive coordinator Roy Wittke has had on him:

'He's thrown in a lot of new additions. We've all learned a lot and can't wait until we can put it into live game action.'


On his mindset and confidence after one year at ASU:

'I've had a lot of time to study film and learn from my coaches, which helps me overall to improve for the upcoming season. I've had the chance to realize what I need to improve to be successful at ASU.'


On the depth at running back:

'There's a lot of talent at the position and any one of us could be the starting running back, we all just have to go out and prove ourselves and hopefully I can earn the starting position.'


Senior wide receiver/kick returner Terry Richardson

On being the team's most experienced wide receiver:

'As long as I've been at ASU, we've had great wide receivers and I'm looking forward to hopefully being the top guy at the position. There is a lot of talent at wide receiver right now and hopefully I can be one of the main threats.'


On being an impact player on special teams, as well as at wide receiver:

'I just want to do whatever I can to impact the game and help the team. Hopefully I can be a main wide receiver and I love being able to impact the outcome of games returning kicks and punts.'


On how he has matured as a student-athlete:

'I'm on pace to graduate in December and have had several opportunities to view life from angles outside of football. I'm just concentrating on closing out my ASU career on a high note as a student and a football player.


Senior defensive lineman Kyle Caldwell

On having the opportunity to play with former high school teammate Loren Howard:

'It's been about five years since we've played together and it's going to be something special when we both get the chance to wear the same color jersey and go out there and compete together.'


On the depth at defensive line:

'It will help tremendously to have the depth. It will enable us to have fresh guys on the field at all times. We won't have to play quite as many snaps, and we can always be fresh and go out there and kick butt on every down.'


On assuming a leadership role as a senior:

'I still feel like I have something to prove, I need to work my way up the depth chart, our whole defensive line is full of leaders, full of playmakers. Everyone respects each other on the defensive line, every voice counts.


Senior defensive lineman Loren Howard

On the status of his health:

'I feel as good as I did before the injuries, and I'm just taking it day-by-day for now, the practicing has gone well so far.'


On the defensive line:

'It's the best group that I've been involved with as a football player, and what helps is that there is a great level of camaraderie among this group and we're really coming together as a unit. The defensive line has a tremendous impact on the defense as a whole, we help keep the offensive linemen off of the linebackers, and if we can get pressure on the quarterback, that enables the defensive backs to play more aggressively.'


Junior defensive lineman Michael Marquardt

On the difference between this year's defensive line from that of past:

'The depth that we have this year will carry us deeper into games. We have plenty of guys who will help us in the late stages of tough games, which is something that was not always the case last season.'


On new defensive line coach Grady Stretz:

'He has made a tremendous effort to pursue the fundamentals. We're mastering the fundamentals and becoming a more technique-sound defensive line, which will help us be successful.'


On the team as a whole:

'There is an overwhelming feeling that this could be a championship team. I have really started to believe that, and I see that my teammates believe that as well. It gives me chills, it's a state of mind and a level of desire that we all have, we all believe that this team can be special.'


Sophomore wide receiver Michael Jones

On eventually having to choose between baseball and football:

            'I think I'd have to flip a coin. I love both sports.  It feels good playing both of them. When I decided to play both of them my mom said `don't go back, don't have any regrets.''


On being a quarterback in high school and moving to wide receiver:

            'It helped being a quarterback in high school. I can catch onto the offense faster than most people because of it. I sometimes miss playing quarterback but it's no big deal playing wide receiver; I just want to play football. I've always had the ability to play wide receiver.'


On what his strengths and weaknesses are as a wide receiver:

            'I have good hands and I catch the ball well. I'm also very coachable. The coaches tell me what to do and I'll go do it. I'd like to improve on my speed. I'm decently fast but it would help to get faster.'


On baseball head coach Pat  Murphy:

            'He's never said he's worried about me getting injured, but I sense that he is. With the center field position open next year I have a good chance of starting. He has told me I could have a big decision to make after next baseball season, because there is the possibility I could get drafted. I do not plan on leaving early but financially it would be a dream to get drafted and play pro baseball. I love both sports and want to play them and get my degree.'


Senior wide receiver Jamaal Lewis

On moving from tight end to wide receiver:

            'I feel it's a good move. I'm bigger so I can get the cornerbacks off of me. The only downfall is I might now be fast enough to get by them. It doesn't matter to me what position I'm playing as long as we're winning games. Coach Jackson has helped make the transition easy. Reading defenses is the hardest transition.

            If I was needed to go back to tight end I would know exactly what to do. I would feel comfortable moving back to tight end.

            The coaches have helped me make the transition by playing seven on seven. They gave me films to watch and of course the playbook helps too. I have also been working with Rudy (Burgess).'


On taking over Derek Hagan's role:

            'Last year the majority of the balls went to Derek because he earned the quarterbacks respect and trust as a wide receiver. This year the balls are more spread out now that Derek is gone.'


On the quarterback situation:

            'I have a good relationship with both players. I live with Sam so he and I have a little more of a connection. I trust Rudy and I know Rudy will get the job done. Sam just gives a little extra to me because we know each other so well.'


On what game he is looking most forward to:

            'I'm looking forward to playing USC and Arizona. If given the choice on what team I could automatically beat however, I would pick Arizona. It's in my blood.'


On being a senior and chasing records:

            'Breaking a record would be awesome. It makes you play harder and amps you up giving you that edge. Plus the more touchdowns we have; the more wins we'll get.'


On his strengths and weaknesses:

            'I'm very good at jump ball. I have good hands and good catching ability. I need to work on my speed and reading the defenses. I think I will surprise people in the red zone though.'


On goals for the year:

            'I just want to stay focused and healthy. It's tough to not think about the NFL but I just need to stay focused and get my degree. After last year I'm a much more confident player. My freshman and sophomore year were just ok but after last year I felt like a more accomplished player. Just bring the ball this year.'


Junior offensive lineman Robert Gustavis

On how last season affected his confidence and preparation for this season:

'I think it really boosted up my confidence for this season. I feel like I played really well and it prepared me for the upcoming season.'


On playing among an experienced offensive line:

'Players like Andrew Carnahan and Grayling Love (former OL) have helped me since day one. They help me make sure I know my assignments and plays.'


On his best football experience at ASU:

'My favorite moment was last year at the Insight Bowl.  I was on the sideline watching and went in during the first quarter and played the rest of the game. It was a close game until the end. It was fun to be a part of the comeback.'


On becoming a key contributor and a starter last season:

'We had really good back-ups and I always know that I am one play away from being called up.  When Zach Krula went down with injury I got the opportunity to step up and play.'


Senior kicker/punter Jesse Ainsworth

On using a shorter tee for kickoffs:

'Kicking with a shorter tee, it's harder to get the ball in the air.  It doesn't go as high and it effects the hang time a little bit, but I haven't made any changes with my approach.  It hasn't really affected the distance of my kicks.'


On the possibility of handling the punting duties again this season:

'It is something I have worked on in the off-season and kept up with, but Jonathan Johnson has been punting well.  I'm prepared to punt if they need me to, I just want to help the team out in any way I can.'


On improving his field goal percentage during his junior year from his first two seasons:

'Field goals feel good. Jason Burke is doing a good job snapping, and Rudy Carpenter has been doing well as the holder.'


On what he would like to improve on entering his final season at ASU:

'Kicking field goals and kick offs accurately and consistently every time, and just playing as well as I can.'


On the overall improvement of the special teams units:

'I think our special teams this year have really improved. We have some of the best punt and kick return units in the nation.  We expect our punt team to be one of the best as well.'


On his field goal range and the coaching staff's confidence in him:

'I'll go out there and do my job.  With a high scoring offense like ours there are not very many opportunities to kick field goals, but I'll do my best when I'm called upon.'


On only attempting 11 field goals last season:

'Our offense was so potent that there weren't that many opportunities to kick field goals.  The way I see it, scoring seven points is better than scoring three.'


Senior defensive lineman Jordan Hill

On higher expectations for the defensive line in 2006:

'It is always good to have that kind of pressure. The depth that we have now makes everyone work that much harder.  The reserves are pushing the starters, which helps the unit as a whole improve.'


On receiving extra attention from opponents' blocking schemes:

'That's the nature of playing defensive line.  In the past, when other defensive linemen were being doubled or triple teamed, it gave me the opportunity to go in and play.  It's just the nature of the beast and the position.  Hopefully this year we can just all come together and be effective.'


On the addition of Michael Marquardt:

'He's a great defensive lineman and doing an excellent job so far.  He's got great hands and I expect him to come in and do a great job for us.'


On the overall athletic ability of the team:

'This team has the most depth and most talent of any I've played on throughout the five years I've played for ASU.'


Junior offensive lineman Brandon Rodd

On the team's efficiency:
'Guys know what is expected of them because we operate at a high level.  During the off season we have our young guys come in everyday, putting time in with the coaches.' 
On the quarterback competition: 

'There are no adjustments I make. They are both good quarterbacks. It is only going to make us better and make them play harder. We would want that at every position. If our back up challenged us everyday for our spot, we would work harder at it. Our team would be better as a whole. I think either quarterback would be untouchable.' 

Senior offensive lineman Andrew Carnahan

On his past experiences at CampTontozona:

'There are a lot of experiences, especially as a freshman. It'll be nice this year to spend some of the time in Tempe, but I have many lasting memories from CampTontozona.'


Junior linebacker Robert James

On the attitudes and the strength of the linebackers this season:

'I've heard that people out there have been saying that our defense has been suspect in the past. I think that gives us some motivation to play harder and prove those people wrong.'


On his improvements over the off-season:

'I've been working on my gap assignment, knowing where I'm supposed to be. Just being more comfortable with the defense as a whole.'


On being the only returning starter at the linebacker position:

'Playing all three linebacker positions last year has made it easier for me this year.  Yesterday was our first practice and knowing what to expect has really helped me out. I'm just going to try and lead this unit by example.'


Senior wide receiver Alex King

On what he wants to improve on for the season:

'My niche is on special teams, so I'm trying to improve on that and get better at open-field tackling.  Receiver wise, I need to improve on getting off the line more quickly because that is the biggest difference between the high school and college game.  I also want to work on my route consistency this season.'


On earning his spot on the team through special teams:

'That is how I was able to prove myself.  I didn't play a whole lot at first, but I got to show my skills on special teams and that is how I have gotten to play more at receiver.'


Junior cornerback Justin Tryon

On choosing to attend ASU:

'I wanted to stay in the Pac-10.  I liked the team and the coaches when I visited here last year, so I decided to stay on the west coast.'


On how spring practice has helped him adjust to the team:

'Getting here in the spring has definitely helped me become more familiar with the team.  I've gotten to know a lot of the guys and get used to the expectations that the coaches here have.  It's been helpful.'


On his strengths as a cornerback:

'I like playing against the bigger guys.  I like the body size of a 6'6' guy; it's easier for me to guard. I can be quicker to the ball than they are.'


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