Quotes from Coach Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 26, 2007
On his experiences with rivalry games:
'They're always the most interesting game of the year. It depends on when you play them. The real rivalry games are the last game of the season, which I experienced when I was at Oregon State, at Washington State, when I was at Idaho, when I was there the first time when we played Boise. When I was at Miami, they kind of varied, a lot of times you played Florida State in the middle of the season. One of the bigger rivalries was when I played and coached at Montana. I think anytime you have two schools that play Division I football, or Division I-AA, but there are two schools, basically, in that state, you're either a Sun Devil or a Wildcat, I don't know that there is anything in between. Anytime it's something like that, it becomes very important, not only to the teams, but to all the alumni for the next 365 days until they play again. It's bragging rights, that's what it's about. To me, those are the most important games there are. As you go through the season, there are important football games, but at the end of the day, when you look at it at the end of the season, the most important one is the rivalry game, no question about that.'
On how rivalry games can make or break a career at a school:
'My career has been broken a lot of times. If you break it again, go ahead and break it again. It's been broken so many times. It's important to win the rivalry game. It's important for Arizona State. It's important for Arizona. It's like I said, it's the biggest game of the year.'
On changing his mind and allowing the players to talk to the media this week:
'I felt this, after I thought about it, that you guys have been here the whole season, reported on us, and talked to our players. So as I thought about it, in fairness to you people that have followed us, that to close it down this week wasn't right. I'm not scared about somebody saying something or anything like that. I'm beyond that. Once it's kicked off, it doesn't make any difference any way. Basically, that's why I did it, after I thought about it.'
On this year's seniors:
'It's a great group of seniors. Anytime there's a coaching change, you're recruited by one coach, they had some ups and downs in their first few years, and then to have a coaching change their senior year, that is always difficult. It's difficult because a new coach probably has a little different personality, a little different philosophy in a lot of things and to play for somebody else other than the guy they've been playing for. The bottom line is they've adjusted very well. They've had a great season, the best season they've had in a long time and they've adjusted to everything, have done everything that we've asked them to do and bought into everything that we're telling them. So I'm real proud of what they've done. To me, that's probably harder than being a senior after being there four or five years with the same guy. They've done a great job of it and deserve a lot of accolades for winning nine football games so far. You always want to see your seniors go out the right way.'
On the momentum Arizona has coming into the game:
'They're playing well. I've said this all along; coach [Mike] Stoops has done a heck of a job there. When he took the program over, it was about as low as you can get. He came in and hung with his plan. They've gotten better and better all the time. I can't say enough about the good things that he and his staff have done. He's made changes when he's felt he had to make changes offensively to get them better, and they are. They started out a little slow, but now they are playing extremely well. The last three games they won pretty convincingly. They're playing really well. They got things going right now. But when it's a rivalry game, it really doesn't make any difference who does or who doesn't. The bottom line is what they've done with that program, and they've done an extremely good job. They've got a lot of seniors playing. You look at that defensive team that they have, which is an extremely good defensive team, they've got a lot of seniors of that team that have played for a long period of time. Spencer Larsen is a guy that I recruited when I was at Oregon State, and he ended up going to Arizona and then going on a mission. He's what football is all about. He plays how he should, and he's a senior leader. They've fought back from not playing well early and they're playing really well right now.'
On Arizona's defense, especially Larsen and Antoine Cason:
'They've got a lot of seniors coming back, led by those two guys. Cason is as good a corner as there is in the country. He is going to, I would assume, be a number one pick, probably an early number one pick. He's got that kind of talent. Those seniors have been through a lot of different ups and downs in their career too. You take those two football players, and they are the leader of that defense. They've got a lot of guys. There is a whole bunch more that I could mention, and they've got some guys offensively. They made some changes offensively. [Mike] Thomas, he makes so many plays, big plays catching the football. They've got talent on both sides of the ball.'
On if there will be any hangover from the USC loss:
'I don't know that we'll know until we play. It was a big game. We didn't play very well, obviously. But that's over and done. This is a whole different situation for us. Playing the University of Arizona is playing the University of Arizona, it doesn't make any difference. I think we'll come and play as well as we can. We haven't had as much rest at they've had. Normally that doesn't happen, but we'll see. In this game, a rivalry like this that's been going for so many years and has so much tradition, I would be certainly shocked if they didn't come out and play as well as they could.'
On whether he often hears from fans about beating Arizona:
'Without question. That's all you hear. That's all you hear when you win during the season, what are going to do against the U of A. That's how it is. It's important to people. As I've said, it's bragging rights. They can go to the water coolers or wherever they go and brag one way or the other about who won that football game. That's what this state or any state that has these kinds of rivalries is all about.'
On ASU's bowl scenarios going into this game:
'I don't really understand the scenarios myself, to be very honest with you. It doesn't make any difference what bowl game we go to. That doesn't make any difference. This is way more important than any bowl we can go to, any bowl game we can play in, so our focus is totally on this and whatever happens happens.'
On whether there is any recruiting advantage in-state from beating Arizona:
'I don't know that anybody judges where they are going to go on one game. Recruiting is about developing relationships with players, players wanting to go to that school. I don't believe it has anything to do with who wins that football game. People are going to watch it. But people who have been around for a number of years, players that have been recruited for a couple of years, probably make their minds up way before this game is played. I don't think it has any influence whatsoever.'
On whether former ASU coach Frank Kush has said anything to him about this rivalry:
'He doesn't have to. All he's got to do is look at me. It's understood. When I look at him this week, it's scary.'
On defending Arizona's offense:
'All spread offenses are a little different. It kind of depends on what your philosophy is. They run the football a little bit more. They're in two tight ends a little bit more. They'll get in the I-formation, and then they'll go to the spread stuff, so they're a little bit more multiple-formations. Some spreads are four-wides all the time, some are five, some are three, but they vary personnel quite a bit more. If you look at their spread compared to Oregon's, it's quite different. Passing game is a lot of the same things. They run a lot of receiver screens and so forth. But they're getting better. They're running the football well. [Willie] Tuitama, he's getting better all the time. But their spread, it's quite different than Oregon's. They don't read things quite as much with their quarterback, so it's a little different. But they get at the line of scrimmage, they hurry up and their passing game is very similar.'
On the offensive line's injury status:
'We're beat up pretty good there right now. I won't know probably until tomorrow exactly where they are at. They didn't practice last night, Brandon [Rodd] and Richard [Tuitu'u], neither one of them practiced. Josh Barrett probably won't play. Robert Gustavis would be moved out to left tackle. He's been a left guard, hasn't played tackle, but that's kind of where we're at right now.'
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