Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference

Sept. 14, 2009

On the week off:
“We got a lot done. I thought Wednesday and Thursday were really good. We went against ourselves pretty hard in pads, almost live actually, except for the taking down and the tackling. It was an improvement time for us. I thought we got better. Thursday we started preparation for Louisiana-Monroe. We practiced yesterday and I thought that went well, so they got a day off today. We had a good week, our coaches were out recruiting here in the state and then in California and actually in Texas, too so we had to take advantage of that because we have 11 straight weeks now that we won’t have much time to do anything. We try to take advantage of it and usually mid-season you can get a little bit of a rest but we weren’t able to do that; players did.'

On James Brooks:
“James will be back after the Georgia game.”

On health of the offensive line:
“Garth Gerhart wasn’t able to go yesterday so he really is the only one who is injured other than Zach Schlink. I think Zach is going to be another three weeks. We might not have him until we play Oregon State, if that. [Schlink’s injury] is just not recovering like we wanted and I’m just hoping we have him sometime during the season. Garth, it’s the other toe, it’s been bothering him. I expect he’ll play Saturday but right now we just don’t know.”

On ASU’s depth at Linebacker:
“We are going to play six or seven guys, it just kind of depends. In the middle it’s going to be [Gerald] Munns and Vontaze [Burfict] obviously, and then Travis [Goethel] will play in there some too. At the SAMbacker now, with Shelly [Lyons] back you’ve got Shelly and Travis and at WILL you have Brandon [Magee] and Nix[on]. So to say the least our depth there is about as good as I’ve ever had it at any place I’ve been.”

On Oliver Aaron: “Oliver Aaron, he’s okay, but I would say he’d be very fortunate if he played against Georgia. We’re looking at him probably for the Oregon State game.”

On Louisiana-Monroe against Texas and Texas Southern:
“Really, against Texas, they didn’t play all that bad. It was at 21-10 game and then Texas hit a couple of real big ones at the end of the first half; I mean two in a row within under three minutes. Southern was quite the opposite, as far as looking at them. I’ve played teams from down there: Louisiana Tech when I was at Idaho, and Lafayette. They are a very talented group as far as speed is concerned; they can run. You get a lot of good athletes out of the state of Louisiana. You couldn’t compare Idaho State with them. They are just so much more athletic and faster than Idaho State; it’s not even close. They have some talent. They beat Alabama what, two years ago I think? They are a football team that’s obviously very capable of coming in here and beating us. Hopefully we learned our lesson, but we’re going to have to play. They’re going to come in and they’re going to play hard and really the bottom line for us is we have to go out and play hard and be accountable and go out and do the things that we are capable of doing and what we can control, which is blocking, tackling, being emotionally ready to play, execution. They do a lot of different things defensively, which are quite different from the norm. The Defensive Coordinator worked with Grady at the University of New Mexico, he was a Defensive Coordinator for Rocky Long and if you’ve seen Rocky Long’s teams when he was at New Mexico they blitz—they’re all over the place. It’s something that you’re not used to seeing so it’s a mental aspect for us offensively, to make sure we block the right guys, pick up the right guy on the blitz and then offensively they are very talented. They have great running backs that have great speed, their quarterback is having a good year, he played last year, so they run a lot of different things on offense but they run a lot of that spread stuff like everybody else. It will be interesting to see. It’s hard after playing one week and then having a week off and now you gotta come back again. I’ve never been in that situation but we practiced pretty darn good so we’ll see.”

On Mike Nixon’s football intelligence:
“Brilliance. At it’s best. He just has such a high athletic IQ, I guess that’s the best way to put it. He has a great feel of what is going on. He makes plays that, I just shake my head at because it doesn’t look like that is where he’s going to be and he ends up there. Not only does he study tape, he knows what they’re doing. He gets a pretty good feel of what the quarterback is doing, particularly early in the game and he’ll bait you. A lot of the great players that play at that position bait you a little bit, they know what you’re looking at, they make you think they’re going one way and then they make the play somewhere else. He has as high a football IQ as I’ve ever been around.”

On possible offensive line changes:
“We played [Matt] Hustad at guard all last week and we evaluated our last game and we though [Tom] Njunge played pretty well at left tackle when he had an opportunity to play. With [Garth] Gerhart out Samson had to spend all of his time at center, just so we have a back up center that can play. We thought our next best move was to put Hustad at guard and Njunge out to tackle, which is where we spent a lot of our time. Will we start that way? I don’t know. I would say right now we probably would, but we have the ability to move Njunge out to tackle and play Samson at Guard depending on what happens to Gearhart, which, when he come back with have the ability to move Hustad back out to tackle. We put him in there, because really Matt hasn’t played. He did a heck of a job at tackle, but we wanted to go ahead and put him at guard just to increase our depth and put the best five guys out on the field.”

On if high school quarterbacks are more prepared today versus 10 or 15 years ago:
“Yes, because of all the camps and all these different things that are available to them and they are at them. Mentally they are a little bit ahead of the game from what they used to be, so that makes a huge difference. When you talk about those two in particular, [Michigan Quarterback Tate] Forcier, he’s been to every camp that’s ever been invented, he was here at ours. [USC Quarterback Matt] Barkley comes from Mater Dei, which obviously has got tremendous coaching ability, so obviously he knows what’s going on. They were both there [at ASU an camp] in the wintertime. That was unheard of before, that didn’t happen. You didn’t have guys go early. So you have guys go in for spring football just like Brock, just like Brock. It was a great advantage for Brock, being here for spring football. Even for him to be where he’s at right now. I think in a Michigan situation they were going to go for a freshman quarterback, that’s what they had planned. Obviously Barkley beat out a couple of pretty good players at USC. They’re both good, I had the opportunity to watch them play a little bit on Saturday. They’re good athletes.”

On if the high schools are running more complicated offenses:
“Some do, but I don’t know that it’s that, I think they’re just coached a little bit better on the things that happen in high school now, there is no question about that. There isn’t a lot of complication in high school, really, offensively. It’s just hard. You may be able to get the quarterback involved but you’ve got 10 other guys, too. It’s not quite as easy.”

On running backs:
“Dimitri [Nance] will start. We like how he’s playing. He doesn’t make very many mistakes. Cameron Marshall is backing him up right now and then the next two will be obviously Ryan Bass will play quite a bit and get a little more time because he did some awfully good things in that game. Four or five of them will play.”

On if he will he play that many running backs against Georgia and other Pac-10 schools:
“You can play four backs. USC does it pretty well. Really, if you get them in the right situation and there are a lot of guys out there that do certain things better than others, so you may move them in and out. I want Dimitri [Nance] in there when we’re two men at offense because he doesn’t blow protections at all. Bass is a change up, Marshall has got a lot of talent so we’ve got to get him turns because I think he can hit the home run for us.”

On the good and the bad of having an early bye week:
“The good is that we have a few little injuries and we had some guys that were able to get healthy; they got to rest. That’s all that I thought was good about it. I would have preferred to play a game but we didn’t. It’s not what you get done, it’s what you accomplish. You’ve got to accomplish certain things in those situations and we got a lot of things done, we got better, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

On hoping his other players learn from Mike Nixon’s studying of film:
“I see that right now because he takes them in there with them. You see the young players that we have, the young linebackers, in that film room with him, learning. Now doing it on the field is a different thing, that athletic IQ is something you learn as you play more. He’s taking Shelly Lyons, Brandon, Vontaze, all of them. They’re all in there together and obviously he’s the guy that runs the show.”

On the Offensive Line coach:

“It’s the hardest job in football. You need to have all five guys working at the same time. There are a lot of positions where you can make a mistake on defense and somebody else can make up for it. Other positions you can make a great throw and another guy will make a great catch, but when you’re the offensive line coach you have five guys moving; they all gotta move. They all gotta know what they’re doing, because if one doesn’t, a guy is going to come through whether it’s a pass protection, whether it’s run blocking, whatever it is. It’s a very difficult job. It’s about motivating but it’s also about understanding what’s going on. There is a lot of mental aspect to it, of taking the right step and understanding that if a guy slants here someone is coming out there. It’s hard.”

On if the offensive line is prepared for Louisiana Monroe’s “blitz”:
“We picked up the blitz fairly good against Idaho State. The bottom line is knowing what you’re doing and where they’re coming from. It’s a little bit more complicated than people think. The general eye of the fan has no idea what goes on up front; they have no clue. The backs are involved a lot in protection too. When you’re facing a team that blitzes quite a bit, which we will see one this week, and we’ll see more as time goes on, everybody has got to know what there assignment is. One break down, a guy might come free, but we’re going to face it. We worked on it all last week, we’ve been working it against our defense all spring and all camp, we have a blitz drill about every other day where it’s our first team defense against our first team offense and it’s a blitz, so that’s where we learn more about picking the blitz up than anything—against ourselves.”

On Danny Sullivan:
“Danny does a lot. Danny has a great football mind, he understands that. We do some check, we don’t do a lot of check and we’ve tried here in the last six months to build our offense in, so that we don’t have to do a lot of audiblizing. Everything that we call has got a place to go with the football in case there is a blitz. I like it better, because I don’t like spending all that time on a line of scrimmage when that clock is going down and it keeps it simpler for the front.”

On if anything surprises him so far in the Pac-10:
“Not really. SC is SC, they did it when they had to do it. I thought Stanford played well early. It was a tough game back east. UCLA had a great win against Tennessee. All of those games were good, nothing really surprised me.”

On if he sees the biggest improvement between game one and two:
“I think you improve every week. I don’t know that there’s a difference between game one and game two and game two and game three. Early you’ve got to improve. I don’t know if it’s between game one and game two and game two and game three, it depends on if you win. I didn’t see a lot of improvement last year between game one and game two, or whatever that game was, game two and three.”

On Louisiana-Monroe’s defense:
“It’s different. Fortunately we’ve been able to work on it a couple of days during the bye week, a little on Thursday and yesterday. It helps us a little bit, but it’s different. It’s still a matter of points and finding out where a certain guy is, and it’s going to boil down to sorting things out. It’s really important that our backs are aware of what’s going on in that situation, because they’re going to be the sixth pass protector.”

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