Quotes From Coach Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference
Sept. 1, 2008
On the damage to the team's indoor practice facility:'I'm probably not the right guy to talk to about that. We'll practice outside, it's fine. It won't be any different than it has been around here for 50 years. From my understanding they'll replace it. That's their number one priority. I'm not sure what the timing is on that. To be honest with you right now it's not one of my biggest worries.'
On the Pac-10 home opener vs. Stanford:'First of all, I have a great deal of respect for Stanford and what Coach (Jim) Harbaugh has done over there. If you watch them on tape against Oregon State, which we have a number of times, they are a greatly improved football team. They are very physical on offense. Their quarterback (Tavita) Pritchard is playing very well; [he is] very athletic. (Toby) Gerhart, their running back, who's the brother of our backup center Garth, played extremely well. He's a big, physical running back. They have just improved in every area from a year ago. You watch them and it's a different group. Their offensive line is very physical. They run the football extremely well, which they did against Oregon State. Defensively they are playing better. The attitude from the time Jim has taken over has completely changed. They are a really good football team. We're going to have to be very prepared. It's our Pac-10 home opener. Those are the ones that count the most.'
On the difference between Stanford's defense this year and last year:'Experience. They have a lot of returners coming back. Their front four has played. They started last year, five of them actually. All of their linebackers are back. They lost a safety and one corner so there are really nine returners on defense coming back. They're very aggressive and they play hard. Ron Lynn, they brought him in this year as their defensive coordinator. He and I have been friends for a long time. He coached for me with the (San Francisco) 49ers in our last year there. He's a very good football coach. You can tell his influence there. They are an improved defensive football team.'
On if he would prefer one or two games before conference play:'Some have to open with conference games. That's just the nature of college football now. You play them when they're there. I think it's good. We need to play a conference game. [Stanford] is a great opponent coming in here. We're going to have to be prepared and ready to go. It's like I said, you don't have a choice when you play games anymore. You just play when they schedule them.'
On how Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh changed the team's attitude so quickly:'Not if you've ever watched him play. That's the kind of attitude he had when he was a player and the success that he's had every place he's been. He comes from a coach's family. He's been around the game his entire life. He was a good player in the NFL. He's a competitor and that's how his team plays. A lot of times [teams] reflect the coach. I'm not surprised at all.'
On his thoughts after reviewing the NAU film:'I thought at times we played well, particularly the first 30 minutes of the game. As I mentioned the other day we didn't play very well the first two series of the second half on both sides. We made some changes, some substitutions and kind of lost the intensity level of what we had going into the game. Can it be corrected? Of course. We had a lot of young guys out there. You can do what you want scrimmage-wise, you can do what you want on the practice field, but until you get into a game with 60,000 fans, as a young player you're going to make mistakes. We had some starry eyes at times. We had some guys that played well and did some good things. We have to improve. Am I happy with it? No. Can we improve on it? Sure.'
On how the true freshmen played:'Well, they all played. You look at it offensively and you see that Ryan Bass played some, Gerell Robinson played some. We probably didn't get the ball to Ryan as much as we should have. Defensively, those linebackers, (Shelly) Lyons, Brandon (Magee) played quite a bit, made some plays. They have a lot of things to learn assignment-wise, but they did some good things. (Clint) Floyd played pretty well at safety for us. Again, as you go through it, all of them made first-game mistakes for guys that have never played. That's probably the best general answer there is. It's hard to kind of look at every individual and say `oh, he did this.' Some of them weren't in very long. Offensively, there weren't very many plays in the second half.'
On how comfortable the receivers are with each other:'They've played together for a long time. They spent a lot of time together this summer. They have confidence in each other. Rudy has a pretty good feel of where they are going to be. He's been working with Mike (Jones), Chris (McGaha), Kyle (Williams), and Kerry (Taylor) for a long period of time. So they have a great feel of where people are going to be and they have a lot of confidence in each other. It makes a huge difference. They made some big plays the other day. Rudy really threw [the ball] extremely well. He threw it really accurately and got the ball off. Obviously as the competition and season goes on it's going to get tougher and tougher, but I thought he played really well and the receiver corps had a good day.'
On if it's been a seamless transition with the rules changes to the play and game clock:'Yeah it really was. There's really not that much difference. We've done it before in the NFL and we did not have to call a timeout because of it and didn't have to hurry plays. Really there are times when you look up and there's 27 seconds instead of the regular 25 seconds. To me it's just something you have to get used to. Probably the biggest thing is for example, with three or four minutes left to go in the half, you're trying to save time and the rule changes under two minutes as far as a guy going out of bounds because the clock starts a lot quicker. That's probably the biggest change that I notice.'
On WR Mike Jones' impact on the receiving corps:'Mike played well. Mike's smart. Obviously he's got size. He's gotten better. We were talking about this yesterday, probably the last half of last season and beginning of this season he's really come into his own in all aspects of the game. I'm not talking about just catching the ball, I'm talking about giving 100 percent all the time, blocking down field, doing things great receivers do in all aspects of the game. He's done that and those young guys are learning from him. He's stepping up as a leader and doing everything that's asked of him at that position.'
On how wide receiver Chris McGaha felt after the game:'He was a little sore yesterday but didn't have any further injury. He felt pretty good after the game. He'll be fine. I don't see anything continuing with it.'
On the running game and QB Rudy Carpenter having the most rushing yards:'He could get 200 yards a game and that would be fine with me. It's so early to tell. You're talking about one game where we played a team with an eight-man front. To me it's pretty hard to judge anything in our running game. Obviously that was a conversation because it was one of the few things we didn't do as well as people thought. The reality of it is that they were playing an eight-man front and we were throwing the ball pretty successfully. Do we have to become better with running the football? Without a doubt. But I don't know that we'll have Keegan (Herring) back this week. Yesterday he wasn't running with the rest of them because of his hamstring but I think Dimitri (Nance) and Gerell (Robinson) did some good things. I don't know that we'll even have (Shaun) DeWitty back because of his muscle pull. But Ryan Bass will continue to get more turns. He'll get better as time goes on. But to be successful you have to run the football. We have to do it a little bit better than we did the other night. But again, if we were halfway through the season and we weren't running the ball very well I would have some concerns. But because of what NAU did to us we didn't run it that much.'
On Stanford's RB Toby Gerhart:'He's about 230-235 pounds. He's big and physical and he's got very deceptive speed. He took one to the house against Oregon State that was a great run. He's a good blocker. [He has] good speed. He's just a very good athlete. He's a big, solid back. They have him and (Anthony) Kimble and that's a really good one-two punch. Kimble's been playing for a very long time but Gerhart really adds a lot to their team.'
On free safety Angelo Fobbs-Valentino's injury:'He'll get an MRI tomorrow. An MCL is what they are saying right now, but we don't know how serious it is.'
On Stanford's LB Pat Maynor being the lead man of their front seven:'He played last year. I've watched him play. He's a big-time player. He runs around and he's smart. Their linebacker crew is all back, They've got a good group, Maynor being one of them. (Clinton) Snyder is a heck of a player too. So if you want to take one part of their defense that has strength it's their front seven and Maynor's playing very, very well.'
On if he's pleased on how ASU started fast in the game against NAU:'Yeah, that's what we wanted to do. That's what our plan was. We feel like we had to come out and play well early. We got the football and took it right down and scored. We came out and played very well on defense. I thought we started like we needed to. We need to make that a habit. But it's not always going to happen like that but obviously that's what our goal is.'