Quotes from Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Oct. 9, 2006

On USC's recent close games...

 

'I wouldn't say USC has struggled at all, they have just had some close games.  I think that both Washington and WashingtonState did not beat themselves and gave themselves a chance to win at the end.  USC is winning in different ways maybe then people are used to seeing them.  I would not categorize what USC is doing as struggling, after all they are the number two team in the country.'

 

On the bye week helping quarterback Rudy Carpenter improve...

 

'In Rudy's case, he isn't a quarterback who hasn't proved himself on the field.  He has proven he can do it on this level, and did on a very high level for the last half of the season last year.  Rudy has gone through a little bit of a rough patch these last two weeks.  Part of that is the fact that we have played two really good football teams in Cal and Oregon, and I think quarterbacks on all levels have a tendency to do that.  We've been working on getting Rudy back to form and better than he was before.  There is a lot of moving part there, his confidence, the other players' confidence, mechanics.  He has been getting hit too much, which is always going to take a toll on mechanics at some point.  There are really four components to the passing game, what plays are being called for him, the protection aspect, the receivers doing the right thing, being in the right place at the right time and running their routes, and also the quarterback's part in it.  Apparently, all four of those areas have been a little off.  I've never been around a passing game in my career where all four of those areas are off as they were in the Oregon game.  We are chipping away at it and we can't wait to get back out there.'

 

On the importance of the ASU's running game against USC...

 

'I'm sure Ryan Torain will have a nice roll as will Keegan Herring.  I think that has been one thing that we are doing a good job of is running the ball.  I think the offensive line and the tight ends, keyed by Zach Miller, are doing a really nice job blocking at the point of attack. Ryan has really shown that he is the kind of back that can break some tackles and can turn the corner with some speed.  We certainly want to try to establish the run and keep this thing going.  I don't think it's entirely fair to compare it with what happened to Washington because Washington's quarterback really spread USC out.  The fact that their quarterback is such a threat to run that is really helps out the tailback.  We aren't going to have the same option because we don't have the threat of the quarterback running.  It is one of the things we are doing well and we have to build on it.' 

 

On the comparison of this year's USC team to that of last year...

 

 

'They no longer have two Heisman trophy winners (running back Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart) who play in the NFL, is the most obvious difference.  (Quarterback John David) Booty's doing a really good job.  He is completing 66 percent of his passes and he is spreading the ball around.  I think that USC's receivers are very talented.  Coach (Pete) Carroll is talking about how they have had injury issues.  (Dwayne) Jarrett, one of the best receivers to play in the Pac-10, has missed pretty much all of the last two games.  (Chris) McFoy their steady number three receiver over the last three years, he is out at this point.  Steve Smith was playing well up to this point is hurt.  They've had two great tailbacks (Bush and LenDale White), up until this year, for the last several years.  They lost some excellent offensive lineman to the NFL but still have a strong offensive line let by their center Ryan Kalil who may be the best center in the Pac-10.  Defensively they did lose some people.  USC is playing a of version of 3-4 defense this year.  Those four linebackers, (Brian) Cushing, (Keith) Rivers, (Rey) Maualuga, and (Dallas) Sartz, any team would love to have those four guys.  They are really playing well defensively, and they are winning games a little bit differently than the last four years.  They went on several multi-play drives, where in the past USC has been more quick strike on offense.  They really controlled the clock.'

 

On tight end Zach Miller's role as a blocker in the running game limiting his receptions...

 

'We need to find ways to get the ball to Zach in the passing game.  I think the reason Zach didn't catch the ball much in the last two games is that our offense was way off base.  I've never seen it like that.  Zach is such an incredible team player, he will do whatever it takes.  Zach's role as a blocker has expanded beyond where he was last year when he was primarily used as a tight end on the line of scrimmage as blocker.  Now he is used more in a movement capacity as an h-back or even as a fullback at times.  Zach has turned into such a great lead blocker.  We need to combine that with using Zach in the passing game.' 

 

On problems with the offense...

 

'We shot ourselves in the foot at the Cal game.  The biggest issue on offense is that we are beating ourselves, whether with turnovers, sacks, drops or penalties.  Those four categories are killing us on offense.  We have to clean that up first drive through the last drive.  We have to do a better job.' 

 

On ASU's struggling receivers...

 

'They've struggled some times to defeat one-on-one coverage.  They've struggle at times to be in the right place at the right times and to be on the same page as Rudy (Carpenter).  Of all those things we've struggled on in the passing game, that one is the easiest to correct.  That is something that you should be able to correct in practice.  We are certainly working on it with the three extra days we have this week and the bye week.  You have to be able to take it from the practice field to the game field.' 

 

On Derron Ware's production since his four-sack performance against NAU...

 

'We have played much better teams since the first game where Derron had four sacks, where (ASU defensive coordinator) Bill Miller debuted Derron as a blitzing linebacker.  Derron wouldn't have shown up on anyone's radar coming off last year.  Now, when Derron walks up on the line scrimmage, offenses know he is our best speed rusher on our football team now.  Like any team with a good pass rusher, teams are going to slide their line.  In Oregon's case, every time we brought Derron up on the line of scrimmage to rush, they checked down to their screen plays.  They are definitely aware of Derron, just like with any pass rusher who has success, there are ways to counteract that.' 

 

On ASU's scoring defense...

 

'The defense didn't give up 49 points at Cal, the defense gave up 28 points at Cal.  California had two interceptions for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown.  In the Oregon game, our offense didn't give our defense a chance.  We were down seven to nothing, and we took it right down the field and threw an interception in the end zone.  Then it's 14 to zero and we went right back down the field, we couldn't score again and had to kick a field goal.  In the Pac-10 you have to score points and you have to be able to match some of these high-powered offenses.  I think Cal has proven that they have a pretty high-powered offense.  The turnovers and the sacks and the penalties are hurting us.  I really don't think our defense has gotten a fair chance because in the last two games our offense hasn't given our defense a chance.' 

 

On improvements in practice...

 

'We've practiced a little bit better.  We've had different types of practice this week because didn't have a game this week.  We weren't focused primarily on scout teams we were going primarily on USC.  We did some work against each other.  We tried to improve fundamentally in some areas.  We'll start our regular USC practices starting tomorrow.  I think we are making some progress.  I think last night our defense as a group had their best practice in a long long time.  Unfortunately when you're going against each other and your defense plays well that comes at the expense of your offense.  The defense did some nice things.'

 

On ASU's game plan against USC...

 

'In our game against USC last year, things went very well for us in the first half.  In the second half we had several turnovers and USC was able to run the ball at us.  When we do a break down of a team, we always include the previous year's game in that breakdown if they haven't changed coordinators.  We are working off of all the games USC has played this year, plus our game against them last year.  Parts of last year's game, it would be safe to say, are going to be incorporated into this year's game plan.' 

 

On injuries...

 

'We are probably as healthy as a team can be other than the obvious ones like Andrew Carnahan.  We got some of the bumps and bruises healed.  Every body is going to have a certain amount of injuries during this time of year.  We are relatively fortunate in that area.  We had a couple guys that we've held out for the three-day period, that have been help a lot.  They'll have another day off today.' 

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