Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference
Oct. 26, 2009
Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson
On the health of the team:
'[Danny Sullivan] has a mild knee sprain. I think he will probably practice tomorrow. I don't know if he will be full speed or not. As far as [Saturday's] game is concerned, probably the biggest concern would be Thomas Altieri who has an MCL [injury] that, I would say he is very questionable to play [this Saturday]. Kyle Williams, I'm not sure exactly where he is at. He is better than he was a week ago, whether or not he'll be able to practice this week I don't know. As far as any other new injuries, that's where we're at.'
On ASU Running Back Ryan Bass' performance Saturday:
'I thought he looked really good. In the two games where he has played any amount of time--Oregon State and the Stanford game--he showed some quickness and some running ability and I thought he protected well. Again with those three backs in there, we can alternate them and I feel pretty good about it. I thought Cameron Marshall did some good things in that game also, but Ryan is getting better. There are a lot of things you have to learn as a back: there are protections, there are a lot of different things and he is getting a lot better at it. He does have that burst that gives us a little different look.'
'They came off and knocked us off the football, number one, and that has not happened to us this year, but it sure as heck happened to us on Saturday and obviously as we go through these next five football games you're going to see a lot of teams that can run the football, starting this week with Cal. With the two backs that they've got and their front, they are every bit as good at running the football as Stanford, in a little different way, but because they can get the big play with their two backs, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. We've got to find a way to slow it down. We didn't tackle real well, we didn't tackle real well on the secondary, so there is a lot of work we gotta do. We've got to get better this week in handling that and I know we will. We've got to be able to stop the run and what happened to us the other night was we got behind, because of plays that they made and they were just able to run it and they got some play action passing on us that created some problems. You've got to be able to stop the run. If [we] can stop the run then they aren't able to do all that other stuff.'
On Cal's run game:
Those two guys [Standford Tailbacks Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen] are extremely good players. Best might be the best in the country. One time he was right up there with the Heisman Trophy and he hasn't changed. They happened to lose a couple games, but he made a run against UCLA that is as good as I've ever seen. He took it, I think it was 80 yards or something like that. Once he gets in the secondary he's a world class sprinter, but he's a football player. So the difference between him and [Standford Running Back Toby] Gerhart for example is that he can take it to the house about anytime and Gerhart was just a blue collar guy who just ran it right over the top of you all the time, but this guy, once he gets in the secondary if you don't tackle him right he can make the big play and that's how they get a lot of their yardage and a lot of big plays in their running game.'
On the frequency of penalties in recent games:
'I have huge concern for it. You can't have penalties like that. We continue to have them and regardless of calls you just can't have them, particularly in situations like we did. I've mentioned this before with Vontaze [Burfict], we did a poor job of coaching him on what the rules were on that field goal. He jumped, went across the line of scrimmage and stepped on a guy and that's a 15 yard penalty. But yeah I'm concerned about it. It's affected the outcome of two of our football games as it always will and we've got to be more disciplined in that situation. The penalties of the game against Stanford were near as critical as much as maybe they were in the first game.'
On his outlook for the rest of the season:
'We've got five games left, starting with this one and I've said this is a very resilient group and we'll see how resilient this week. To me California is as good of a team as there is in our league, and regardless of what has happened so far, talent-wise, they have a lot of talent. We've got an opportunity. We've got an opportunity to go out, play at home and re-prove ourselves. That's how this league is. We're not the only one that has suffered some kind of setback like this in our league. There are other teams that have had that happen to them. How you react to that setback is the key, not the setback itself. Learn from it, react to it and see where you're at. We have an opportunity, like I said, to play a Top 25 team, at home, on Homecoming, on Halloween. It's a great setting for our football team to have an opportunity to come back and do what we do and that's play football; but we have to play better. We can't play like we did last week or else the same thing will happen to us. We've got to come out and play better defensively, play the run, we've got to be more productive offensively, learn from that last game, and there are a lot of good things in front of us, we've just got to win, that's the bottom line.'
On ASU Quarterback Brock Osweiler:
'He's very athletic, for a guy that big, he can run and he's got great feet. He made some throws the other night that were pretty darn good throws, so we know what kind of arm strength he has. He's just got to get a presence of the game, a feeling of the game I should say and understand what we're doing offensively and steady it. He's got a lot of talent and he continues to get better in practice and he's going to play this year. I'm not saying he's going to start, but he'll play. He'll get in games and he'll get better all the time.'
On how the loss to Stanford can help the team go forward:
'It's very humbling. What you learn from those games is something you preach all the time as a football coach and I think if we had the formula for having people ready to play and to play at a high level all the time that we would sell a book and wouldn't have to be sitting here answering questions. You've got to learn to come out and play hard at the beginning and play all the time because if you don't you can get humbled, which we were. I give Stanford credit, they came out, we knew what kind of a football team they were, they were a physical football team, a football team that set the tempo at home and they set it from the start and until the end. You talk about onslaughts and things that are going to happen to you in a game, particularly on the road, we talked about that all week and we talked about their running game and obviously it went in one ear and out the other because [Stanford] played well. But that happens in football all the time. I don't know that there is anyone in our league right now that that hasn't happened to. Unfortunately that happened to us and hopefully we can rebound from it.'
On Cal defensively:
'They play the 3-4 so that's different than most people, not as different now as it was 10 years ago or five years ago. They've got a lot of experience coming back--the kid from here, Cameron Jordan is an outstanding player, their secondaries are all back from a year ago. They are physical. They have done a great job of recruiting at Cal the last six, seven years. They've got some really good football players. Their secondary is as good as we'll see. Their corners are really good. They just play good team defense. They're a talented football team, just like anybody in this league.'
On if ASU Wide Reciever Chris McGaha is playing where he was two years ago and if he could play in the NFL:
'He is. He's making a lot of plays for us. We've had to move him around some because of the injuries--Kerry Taylor and Kyle [Williams]--I'd like to keep him outside a little bit more. With the emergence of Jamal Miles, that will help because we are playing him inside and he's getting better all the time. [McGaha] is as good as he was two years ago. I think [he can play in the NFL]. He has really good hands, but I just want to get him by Cal and I'll worry about that other stuff later [laughs].'
On California Quarterback Kevin Riley:
'I've watched him closely for years. His father is a high school coach in the state of Oregon, or was at one time, so I've watched Kevin for a long time because of the friendship with his father and he's a warrior. He's a leader, he's a fighter, he's a competitor; he makes things happen and has played a lot for as young as he is. He's what they need. He won that job, earned it and is playing really well. If they're running the football that's good too, but he's a good football player.'