Quotes from Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Nov. 6, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. -

 

Head Coach Dirk Koetter

 

On the strategy behind electing to defer to the second half after winning the coin toss...

 

'The strategy of deferring the coin toss is when weather is an issue, to try and take advantage of the wind. The wind is usually the main factor, and the fact that our defense has playing well, we'd like to get our defense out on the field first and try to take advantage of whatever field position our defense can get for us.  When the other team takes the ball on a 12-play, 84-yard drive for a touchdown, that makes that strategy backfire you, but those certainly aren't the odds. When an offense has to go 84-yards, the percentages are definitely against them.'

 

On the affects injuries have on the team deep into the season...

 

'It's just that time of year for everybody, this is a very physical game and everyone's beat, and we're no exception to that.  That's magnified by the fact that we've had a couple of bad injuries over the past couple weeks. It's one thing to be banged up, but when you lose (offensive lineman) Stephen Berg and (wide receiver) Nate Kimbrough in back-to-back weeks with torn ACL's, that takes a little bit out of everybody. What that does in practice, every time you lose a guy, that puts more stress on the other guys at that position to take more reps in practice. When you get to this time of year, you obviously have more film to watch, because you've got all these games. You have all these situations you'd like to cover, but yet your team is nicked up a little bit. We're averaging between 53 and 55 guys who are playing in the games, every time you lose a guy or two; you're asking those guys to do more in practice. So the balancing act is to have their bodies holding up on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so that they can be healthy enough to go on Saturday.  Some players who wear the orange jersey (in practice), who can't have contact all week, will try to play on Saturday.  We've tried to cut practice down; we've cut it down about 15 to 20 minutes over the last couple of weeks, down to a two-hour practice.'

 

On the status of tailback Ryan Torain...

 

'Ryan has an ankle sprain; the good news is that it's an 'old school' ankle sprain, not the dreaded high ankle sprain that definitely keeps guys out longer. That's what (cornerback/wide receiver) Rudy Burgess has, a high ankle sprain.'

 

On offensive tackle Julius Orieukwu's preference to play right tackle...

 

'If he had his preference he would play right tackle over left (tackle). He's played in a right-handed stance his whole career, in high school and also here. Julius had actually approached me a couple weeks back, when we moved Stephen Berg out to right tackle when (Andrew) Carnahan got hurt, and wanted to move back to right to right tackle. I told him I thought it was a better move for us to move Stephen (Berg) out to right tackle and I think if you ask Julius, he prefers to play on the right side.'

 

On offensive lineman Brandon Rodd's performance after missing action due to injury...

 

'He did okay; I know he's still bothered by that hamstring. Brandon did a good job and he's a veteran player.  He got beat a couple of times when it looked like he was afraid to push off on that thing (hamstring), I think any player coming back from an injury still goes through that confidence factor of really cutting it loose on that injury. That showed up on maybe two plays, but for the most part, Brandon did a pretty good job.'

 

On WashingtonState's multiple defense fronts...

 

'It looks like the last two weeks; they've played a lot more 3-4 (defense). WashingtonState has traditionally been a 4-3 'quarters' team, and they're very good at it, over the years. I didn't know they were mixing that much earlier in the year, but as I've gone through the film I see that going back early into the season, they would primarily play in the 4-3, and then jump into the 3-4.  In the Oregon game, they lost two defensive tackles back-to-back, and since that time they've played a lot more 3-4.  In fact, against Arizona last week, there might not have been more than three or four plays that they were in 4-3. The week before, against UCLA, they were primarily in 3-4. They played well that game and gave UCLA fits and beat them in the Rose Bowl.  In their mind, they'd like to be able to mix both, that's what they did against teams like California and OregonState.  It makes you prepare both ways and change your blocking schemes a little bit.'

    

On the status of wide receiver Michael Jones...

 

'Mike Jones has bruised ribs, which is a very painful injury. Mike was in a lot of pain when he came back in the second half (against OregonState), but he was able to play a little bit in the second half.  I fully expect Mike to be okay by Saturday, but he will be fairly limited as far as having contact during the week.'

 

On using WashingtonState's previous games in the preparation process, including the Cougars' loss to Arizona...

 

'Arizona did a nice job against WashingtonState; they had a nice game plan for them. Arizona got the lead and controlled the clock; they were able to get into third-and-short (situations) and were able to do a really nice job of converting on third downs.  That running back, (Chris) Henry ran hard, so you have to tip your hat to Arizona. This time of year, we have all 10 of their games; we're going to take things from all of those game tapes that we'll try to incorporate into our game plan.  The key point is, those ideas all look great on paper, but you have to make them fit the players you have available.'

 

On penalties...

 

'An interesting statistic is that even though we're the most penalized team in the league, when teams play us, they're the most penalized against us. I have no idea why that is. We did have fewer penalties (against OregonState), but we had a lot of penalties (against Washington) and we won, and we had fewer penalties last week and we lost.'

 

On the status of wide receiver Jamaal Lewis...

 

'Sometimes you have to take action for not only the good of that player, individually, even though he might not think it's for his own good at the time, but also for the good of the team.  On decisions like that, you can't ever look at it as winning or losing, if you do that, you'll be inconsistent and you'll alienate all your players. It doesn't matter if it's a 'good' player or a 'bad' player.  I really didn't suspend Jamaal; I just gave him time to get some things done that he needs to get done.  He needs to have his attention on some other areas of his life right now. That's very open-ended, and as soon as he can get his affairs in order, he'll be back.'

 

On ASU's postseason aspirations...

 

'I'm concerned about what happens this Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium and that's it. I'm actually more concerned about what we're going to do tomorrow for practice right now.' 

 

 

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter

 

On wide receivers Brandon Smith and Kyle Williams...

 

'Our receiving corps has taken a major hit. I like Brandon Smith, I don't know much about Kyle Williams, I've only been working with him for a couple weeks to be honest, but I know he's fast and can make plays.  I spent a lot of time with Brandon this summer, right after spring ball I thought that Brandon could be a big-time player for us, so I spent a lot of time with him during the summer watching film and tried to teach him everything I could.  He just hasn't had much of an opportunity this year so far, but he's starting now, so I'm glad I did that. I'm excited about Brandon because he's fast, he can jump, he's really athletic, he just needs some experience.'

 

On remaining optimistic...

 

'A couple years ago, I might have said 'the glass is half empty', this year I take the approach that the glass is 'half-full', I think we all have to.  We have a lot of guys hurt, but it's frustrating because you want to win every game, you want to compete in every game and you want to be in every game.  We really weren't from the start (against OregonState), they scored on their first possession and we couldn't do a whole lot. It's frustrating when you prepare, you work hard and you feel like you're ready, but sometimes you're a little bit out-manned.'

 

On the mind set of the offense...

 

'I've taken a much different approach. After the third game, I realized that we have really good running backs and that defenses are doing different things to us. I'm handing the ball off and watching guys run and when I throw, I'm trying to complete passes and not turn the ball over. That will be even more necessary the next three weeks.'

 

On learning from what Arizona was able to do successfully against Washington State..

 

'They (Arizona) hit a couple of deep passes, and that's something that we haven't really done all year and we're hoping that's something we can do against them, too.  I want to air one out every once in a while.'

 

On ASU's offense...

 

'A lot of teams that we play this year aren't worried about us throwing the deep ball. We just have to keep running it. Last week I had to throw some deep passes just so the defenses know that we'll still do it.  We have to play to what our strengths are, and our strengths are (tailbacks) Ryan Torain and Keegan (Herring) and I have no problem handing the ball off to them.'

 

On the team's outlook approaching the final three regular season games...

 

'Coach (Koetter) put up an interesting number for us, that we have 21 days left in our season, but we have 25 percent of our season left. That's a lot of games, we can finish 5-7 or we can finish 8-4, we just have to keep working hard and prepare every week. Eventually it'll come through for us, I know the guys still want to play and compete; they're not throwing in the towel.  That's Sun Devil football, those are the types of players we have on our team, which is a good thing for the future considering that we have a lot of young guys.'

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