Quotes from Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Oct. 23, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. -

Head Coach Dirk Koetter


On the versatility of cornerback/wide receiver Rudy Burgess...


'There are probably some guys who could do it.  I mean I'm sure that every major college team has some guys who are versatile like Rudy is, but I doubt if many guys would do it.  Rudy just has been unselfish through out his whole career in doing what we needed him to do.  Right now we just need him at cornerback. It's not that I don't think he can play both ways, I know he can play both ways, but he hasn't been practicing at cornerback and he has a lot of catching up to do.  There is not doubt that he can handle some plays on offense but he needed to spend all of his time practicing on defense.  Part of the deal I made with Rudy, when I asked him to move, was that we would start him, as long as he could handle everything.  Rudy played about 30 snaps at cornerback last week (against Stanford).  I would never rule out a return on offense but we need him to concentrate on defense right now.'


On quarterback Carl Bonnell of Washington...


'I haven't really watched much of their offense but (Isaiah) Stanback was having a terrific year (at quarterback), possibly an MVP-type year, until he got hurt.  (Carl) Bonnell threw five interceptions against California, but they said he played pretty well.  He was very mobile. They ran their same offense.  His percentage was good, his yardage was good and they took California into overtime.'


On Washington's improvement in the Pac-10...


'They are getting better.  It is hard to judge because Stanback was having such a terrific year.  How much are they going to miss him?  I don't know if you can tell that from one game.  Although, they were right there with a chance to win (against California).  I think in Tyrone Willingham's second year, obviously he has more of his own guys and more guys on board with his philosophy, they are not making that many mistakes.  They aren't turning the ball over that much.  I think that primarily goes back to Stanback again.  They do have some other good skill players.  They have a physical, big offensive line.    Defensively I think their secondary is solid and their one linebacker, Scott White, is having an exceptional year, he is making a lot of plays.  They had some success early.  Any time your team is improving, it helps build your confidence, but they have had kind of a rough stretch, they have lost their last three (games).'


On quarterback Rudy Carpenter's mobility...


'I coach Rudy to get down and to get vertical.  He doesn't listen to me all the time on that.  Rudy is not a big guy, even though he has gained 15 pounds or so since he's been here.  Rudy's body compared to the guys that are trying to rip him apart is not a good match up.  I want Rudy to take fewer hits, but Rudy is making some positive plays.  When he is making quick decisions and going north and south, he is capable.  Like in the USC game, he had a long run. But you are only going to get what you are going to get.  There is no use taking those hits on the back end.' 


On ASU's offense...


'I have always been comfortable with opening up the offense.  That has never been a problem for me.  But I also think we have to be smart.  Opening up the offense can lead to turnovers.  The best thing we did was not turn the ball over.  On defense we have cut down the number of big plays we have given up.  We are back to zero on the turnover margin.  Two weeks ago we were negative four on the season.  There is a fine line that has to be walked.  We are playing with a beat up offensive line and new offensive tackles in there.  Part of that is protection-oriented as well.  We are also doing a good job running the ball.  We have built around what we are doing well and try to eliminate our mistakes that hurt us.  There were a lot of times in that Stanford game that I found myself wanting to throw it deep, but what we were doing was working well.  We scored on six of our first eight possessions.  When you control the ball as much as we did in the first half, that'll give your defense a chance.  You don't turn the ball over.  If we can do every game we will have a chance to win every one of them.' 


On playing in cold weather in Seattle, Wash....


'I'd say it would be very comparable to Colorado and we played fine in that weather.  I think the players really enjoyed it.'


On the play of ASU's tailbacks...


'To begin the season, we had three guys in mind for that position.  Keegan (Herring) was starting, then (Ryan) Torain was coming in, and (Shaun) DeWitty was the third back.  DeWitty has been out the last two weeks so it has pretty much been a two-man game.  It has just been better for us to have Torain as the feature back and the main power back and use Keegan as a change of pace.  Keegan has also been used to play more on the third down situation for the last two games.  I purposely sat Torain down the second half (against Stanford) so he wouldn't take any more hits.  We do have good depth at tailback.  Also, if we gave the ball to Dimitri Nance 20 times (per game), he would give us 100 yards.  That guy is an excellent runner.  Still, he can improve on some things like pass blocking.  I'm really pleased with our running backs.  I'm really pleased with how Keegan has accepted his role on the team.  If you watch him on kickoff coverage, he is the first guy down the field.  Keegan is not getting as many carries as he'd like but he is one of the leaders on the team.  He is a real emotional guy.  He gets the other guys hyped up.  I just think you can see the difference between having a 215-pound back in Torain and having a 190-pound back in Keegan.'


On DeWitty's health status...


'He had a bone scan on Friday and got the results back from that.  They can't really find what the problem is in his back.  I think they are going to treat it a little more aggressively this week.  I talked to Shaun yesterday and I think we are going to try to get him back.  We'll know here in the next couple days of practice.  Hopefully we can get him back out there. 


On the play of ASU's linebackers...


'I think as a group they are doing really well.  Bill (Miller, ASU's defensive coordinator) is matching them up based upon personnel.  We are rotating six guys (at linebacker).  (Gerald) Munns only played two plays because he had a sore shoulder from the USC game.  Mike Nixon, because he can play all the positions, is the wild card.  Beau Manutai and Robert James are at MIKE (middle linebacker) and Travis Goethel and Derron Ware at WILL (weak side linebacker). Last year we had two guys who were making all the plays.  Now we have six guys who are averaging 25 and 30 plays per game.  Mike Nixon had the high plays (against Stanford) at 40.  Beau Manutai is in the middle, and at (defending) the run game and doing an excellent job.  Derron Ware is better in the pass game, but he is a play maker he also gives us a speed rusher off the edge.  As a group, I'm real happy.  Last year, (former ASU linebackers) Jamar Williams and Dale Robinson made a lot of plays.  Those guys really got beat down and worn out as the season went on.  Dale really faded the last few games, partly due to injuries.'


On the status of safety Zach Catanese and offensive lineman Brandon Rodd...


'Catanese will be fine.  He had a slight concussion but he will be good to go.  Rodd did some slight running with the team.  He is still nursing his hamstring.  He is day to day.' 


On the status of wide receiver Terry Richardson...


'Terry is very doubtful the week.  The good news is that the MRI showed no tear or anything that needed surgery.  He is already off crutches.  He was in a brace yesterday.  He has to get his strength back.  Terry had this similar injury a year ago and played with it.  I would say his is probably doubtful for this week.'


On the performance of ASU's special teams units against Stanford...


'Our special teams in general were a non-factor in this game.  There were seven kickoffs (by ASU) and Jesse (Ainsworth) kicked four of them out of the end zone.  We only got two kick off returns, and in the beginning of the game they pooched it on us and we ran it back to the 40-yard line.  The second time, they had that surprise onside kick and they really couldn't have executed it any better.  They really did a great job.  The punter (Jay Ottovegio of Stanford) sprayed the ball all over the field in the punt return.  It seems like every time we called the ball one way, he kicked the other way.  It made if difficult for us.  Our punt return team only had one play.  Special teams were really a non-factor for us.  I see (Chris) McGaha in practice every day.  He is probably not as electrifying as Terry (Richardson) but he is very solid.  He is going to always catch it and he breaks a lot more tackles than you think.  He does a really nice job.  Rudy (Burgess) will be our primary kick return guy, we are trying to get Rudy's hands on the ball.' 


Quarterback Rudy Carpenter



On his performance during the past two games..


'I feel like the past two weeks I've been trying to manage the game better.  I've been trying not to turn the ball over which has kept us in the game the past two weeks.'


On his approach to running as a quarterback...


'I think you get hurt if you change what you are doing.  Sometimes I judge it on how big the guy is in front of me.  Against USC, their middle linebacker was in front of me and I didn't want to take a hit from him so I slid.  If it is a cornerback or a safety I'll take their best shot.'


On Washington's Defense...


'I think they are a lot like last year's defense, they're just a little more athletic and a little more experienced than they were last year.  It is the same style defense.' 


On playing in colder weather at Washington...


'I like playing when it's cool and darker outside.  These day games, I don't like them that much.'


On playing successfully on the road...


'I think the number one thing for us to do is to cut down on penalties, it kills our drives.  Whenever you are first down and 20, those are hard to dial up good plays.  We really shoot ourselves in the foot.  On the road, it's really hard to come back.  There are hostile crowds that feed off of that.  We need to make some good plays to silence the crowd.'


On the 2006 season so far...


'We started off the season at 3-0 and we were playing pretty well.  Then we went on a three-game skid where we played some of the three best teams in the Pac-10, a couple of best teams in the country.  The win (against Stanford) helps us out.  It gets the guys' self esteem higher.  I'm glad that our guys aren't quitting and giving up now that we can't go to a BCS game.  I think that past few weeks I've lost 10 pounds because I feel like I can't even eat when we lose.  It is the worst feeling ever.  I just want to get back to winning.'


On the teams remaining on ASU's schedule...


'Washington took Oklahoma down to the wire.  They took USC down to the last couple of seconds and then took Cal into overtime.  Those are three pretty good teams.  I think we are going to play well.  You always have to play well in the Pac-10, but we have to play extremely well to beat these teams.  WashingtonState beat Oregon this weekend and took USC down to the wire too.  We are going to have to play extremely well to get these wins and I think we are capable of doing it.' 


On last year's Washington game, Carpenter's first career start...


'That was a fun game for me.  It was the first time I got a chance to start.  To be honest with you, I was so nervous in the hotel.  I was nervous to whole week.  I was scared.  I didn't know what to do with my self.  But then I got on the field.  I was like `Man I'm playing football, Division I football.  This is crazy.'  I was having fun.  It was a great game.  I'll always remember that.  I was Pac-10 (Offensive) Player of the Week.  Hopefully I will remember that and carry it with me these next couple games.' 


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