Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference
Aug. 31, 2009
'Obviously the first game is great to get started, finally play somebody else, some other bodies to hit or be hit. We all kind of feel the same right now. It was a good camp for us. I really felt that there was a great deal of improvement in a lot of areas. You won't find out until you play, but I feel, offensively, because of moving some people around in the front, developing some depth, I felt our offensive front played pretty well. I thought Danny Sullivan had a very good camp. He has really established himself there. Unfortunately Samson [Szakacsy] hurt his arm again. It's not the same injury, but it's bothering him. In saying that, Brock [Osweiler] will not be able to redshirt. We've got to play him. We've got to have two quarterbacks, and if Samson keeps going back and forth, we just can't take that chance. I thought that Brock, for being a freshman, did some awfully good things coming in the spring and where he is at right now. [Brock] is very talented, but like any freshman, he has a lot to learn and obviously he's going to have to learn it pretty fast. Then, defensively, we had a great camp; developed some depth. I'm anxious to watch us play. There is a lot of hype about our defense. We've got to watch them play here pretty quick and see where they're at. We're very athletic, we have more speed than we've had and we've been very physical; it'll be exciting to watch them play. The kicking game, which hasn't been talked about very much, obviously with Thomas Weber we probably have one of the better kickers in the country. With Kyle Williams in the punt return area and Omar Bolden, who is going to return kickoffs for us, we feel good there, and in our cover teams with the depth that we've been able to develop, what that enables you to do is to get a little bit more speed on special teams. I'm anxious to watch them perform on Saturday night. Again, you have a little bit of an idea where you're at, but you never know until you start playing. Like everybody in the country, we're ready to get going.'
On if the team feels extra motivation after last year:
'If they're not [motivated], they shouldn't be on this team, to be honest with you. It should be self-motivation and we talk about it a lot. But it's over with too; that year is over with. You can't talk about it any longer. Let's talk about this year. It's been a motivational tool for us, not just now. but in the winter conditioning and spring football and so forth over the summer and camp. We want to prevent that from happening again, and we are the only ones that can control that, the coaches and the players, nobody else can control that but us. We have an opportunity to do that by how we perform on the field. It's a long season, and I like the work ethic, and I like our athletes and how they're preparing themselves. We'll see as time goes on. Again, that's behind us, but it's obviously been a motivation up until now.'
On how many freshmen will see action this season:
'Probably five or six, and counting redshirt freshmen, we'll probably have well over 10 or 11 playing.'
On Dean DeLeone:
'We all know his story. He came from a great family. His father was an All-Pro center in the NFL for a lot of years. When Dean came out of high school, he didn't know what he wanted to do. He wasn't quite as big as he is now and decided to go into the Coast Guard. He finished there down in Orange County. He went to Orange Coast Community College and started playing junior college football. He's very athletic, and he's a guy that when we watched him, he jumped out. He was fairly heavily recruited coming out of junior college, and he's really going to help us. He fits in pretty good. We're able to move Dexter [Davis] over to strong end and flip him back and forth. He'll have a tremendous influence in how we play.'
On the challenges Idaho State presents:
'Their offensive coordinator who was there last year is not there now. Their head coach, who I've known for a long time, since when he was at Central Washington, has been around. They are in the Big Sky Conference, and they create some problems for you. Number one, we have got to be ready to play. That is the bottom line. Hopefully that is a lesson we learned a year ago: play every week irregardless. We have got to worry about ourselves right now more than anything else; being prepared to play, coming out and playing hard all the time and dealing with whatever they give us. On Offense, they do a variety of things, they are in one-back, two-back, they like to run the football. They have got an experienced quarterback coming back and a lot of experience in the offensive line. Defensively, they do a lot of different things. They don't create a lot of blitzes; at least they didn't a year ago. When you go into a first game, you know people change, things change. We have a pretty good idea of what they have done in the past, and now we are going to have to deal with what they do. As I said, my concern is our football team, not our opponent; us being ready to play, us going out playing as well as we can and as hard as we can, and see what happens.'
On the running back situation:
'Pretty much, it's fairly even. I wish somebody would jump right out, to be quite honest with you, but that has not quite happened yet. We have got to feel things out and see what happens. Probably four of them are going to play for sure, and I do not know what four. We will see what happens. Obviously, Cameron Marshall, we are going to let him have a look. He is young and he has a lot of talent. Dimitri [Nance] will play a lot, as will [Ryan] Bass. Jarrell Woods had probably as good a fall as anybody. He gives us something. We are going to see how many we play in the game (against Idaho State) and try to make some decisions. I would like to get down to where you play two or three guys. Any more than that is just hard to do.'
On if he has specific milestones of achievement in mind for this team:
'Our goal every year is to compete for the Pac-10 championship and to go to a bowl game. To me, we would like to prove that last year was a fluke in this program. We want to go to a bowl game and compete for the Pac-10 championship. It's hard to just say, hey, we're setting seven or eight or 10 games as far as a goal. We just set a goal each week to keep getting better and better. Playing for a championship; that is what our goal is now and that is what it will always be here.'
On Chris McGaha:
'Chris (McGaha) was hurt last year, when he had that injury in the spring. You didn't see Chris McGaha in the fall at all. He wasn't healthy. He's healthy now, so you'll see a different player out there. He can make a lot of big plays for us. Having him is an added bonus for us. We've got some experience (at wide receiver). Kyle Williams has played. Kerry Taylor has played. T.J. Simpson is getting better. Gerell Robinson, as we all know, had a very good camp. It's a good group. We've got five or six players that can really play. It's probably as well rounded a group as we've had.'
On if he is excited to call plays this season:
'It's exciting. I'm excited about making sure that I don't screw it up. I know everyone will let me know if I do. But it's still play selection by committee. All we've done is kind of change semantics of where we're at. (Offensive Coordinator) Rich [Olson] will be upstairs, which will give him a better opportunity to see things. He and I will talk about play calls. It's all of us working together. It's not just me calling plays myself. I like what we're doing offensively. We're in a shotgun basically. We're in three wides more than we've been. It's still going to be multiple. We're going to spread them out. We'll throw more with Danny [Sullivan] and his strengths. It really hasn't changed a lot. We'll be able to run the football more with what we're doing. I have a little bit better idea with how to go from A to B to C with what we're doing right now. That's very good as far as play calling is concerned.'
On his confidence in the secondary:
'I feel our corners have played and are experienced. Our safeties haven't played. Clint Floyd has played some, and Ryan McFoy has played more than people think. Keelan Johnson hasn't played a game, but physically he might be as talented as I've ever had back there. They're going to have to learn on the job. But I feel very confident in our secondary. I know one thing, playing in the secondary is a lot easier when you have a pass rush. A lot of guys become good when that guy is throwing on his back. Hopefully we can create that, too.'
On William Sutton:
'Will is going to play a lot. He's in our rotation up front. We're going to try and play defensive linemen as much as we can. He and Corey Adams are both going to play. They will be in there with Lawrence (Guy). Bo Moos will be in there. Will has had a very good camp. Of all the freshmen, he probably wasn't as heavily recruited as some, but he's a good football player and we're very fortunate to have him.'
On the lack of national attention surrounding ASU going into this season:
'When you come off a 5-7 season, you shouldn't get a lot of attention. There are a lot of teams that have a lot of people coming back. It really doesn't faze me at all. We just need to get ready and go.'
On if he has more confidence about this team because of the defense:
'We'll see how we play. We didn't play every game really well on defense last year. We have to become more consistent this year. That's the strength of our team. By no means are we a truly dominant defense. We have to prove that on the football field. However, when you do get in that situation, it gives you more of a chance to gamble on offense. It works both ways. If you play good defense, you're going to get the ball more. When I was at Miami, that's why we were pretty darn good on offense. It does make a difference.'
On Danny Sullivan going into his first career start:
'It's a different world. There are going to be a lot of quarterbacks out there on Thursday or Saturday that have not been on the field yet. Playing and starting a game is different than practice. Starting a game and understanding that you're going to play and what you're going to do is different. I'm excited to see him play. He'll only get better as he plays. You can only accomplish so much in practice. It's a learning process for him as he starts every game and plays.'
On Josh Jordan being in the student Senate:
'I call him Senator Jordan. I think it's great that our players can get involved with their student bodies and student government. That's what he wants to do in the future, get into politics. If he was a politician, I'd feel pretty good on where we're at. I like to see them get involved in things like that. He's pretty excited and he has his opinions on things.'
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