Pac-12 coaches teleconference: David Shaw knows ASU well
Stanford head coach David Shaw and Arizona State coach Todd Graham not only led their teams to the Pac-12 title game on Saturday in Tempe. By doing so, they earned themselves participation in this week's Pac-12 coaches teleconference call. In it, Shaw discussed a childhood stint in Tempe and ASU's offense. Graham spent much of the call discussing the Sun Devils' change in culture, and he also hit on his team's shot at revenge against the Cardinal.
Stanford's visit to Tempe is not unfamiliar territory for Shaw. The head coach of the Cardinal spent several years in Tempe, when his father, Willie Shaw, was the Sun Devils' defensive backs coach under head coach Darryl Rogers. Shaw, who was in elementary school during his father's tenure at the school from 1980-84, fondly remembers sneaking into basketball games at ASU and catching horned frogs around Camp Tontozona, the Sun Devils' training camp in the mountains. “It was fun, it was awesome,” Shaw said.
ASU got trounced by Stanford, 42-28, in its first Pac-12 game of the season back in September. Shaw isn't worried that his team might take the Sun Devils lightly considering the margin of victory was only helped by a late ASU push that closed a 39-7 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. “You put the film on, you watch these guys run by people,” Shaw said. “You watch them dominate games. You see them dominate teams we had trouble with.”
Shaw doesn't think he needs to prepare his Cardinal team any differently with ASU running back Marion Grice potentially sitting out with an injury. Grice's replacement, D.J. Foster, ripped Arizona for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries during the Sun Devils' 58-21 win on Saturday. “I think he is different (than Grice),” Shaw said. “I know they're going to be dedicated to running the ball … being as diverse as possible. D.J. Foster is a big-time back.”
Asked if he had any comment on USC hiring head coach Steve Sarkisian away from Washington, Shaw said he had “none at all.” But he did say there's never one reason why a coach would make a change, especially within a conference. “There's so many things that go into it of course,” Shaw said. “It's usually never just one thing. It's never, 'Hey, they're going to pay me 10 dollars more so I'm going to go down there.'” Added Shaw: “I think this move will put a little hotsauce on the USC-Washington rivalry.”
On Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney: “He has a lot of pride not to have negative plays. He loves when the game gets tight, he loves when the game gets physical. Right now, he's the embodiment of our running game.”
Graham called Arizona State a “sleeping giant” when he left Pittsburgh two years ago to take the Sun Devils' head coaching job. What did he mean then? “You look at the Valley, I think it's one of the special players in the country,” Graham said. “Beautiful campus. Potential … and the fact that we've had the success in the past. I knew that this was a great opportunity for me because it was a great fit for me. And you don't fit at every place. We're just getting started to build something special.”
Graham spent much of the conference call discussing the culture change at ASU. He said implementing and establishing accountability was easy, but the players have taken it to another level. The Sun Devils were one of the most penalized teams in the nation before Graham's arrival, and he said his players were tired of carrying the perception. They simply needed a plan to change. “I believe young people will meet any standard you set,” Graham said. “It was about inspiring it to come out of their hearts. I know that sounds corny.”
Graham on the early ASU schedule, which included games against reigning Big Ten champion Wisconsin, Pac-12 champion Stanford and national title runner-up Notre Dame: “When I first seen that schedule, I wasn't very happy about it. I don't think we'd be where we are without that schedule. That stretch there, I think we had a team mature more than I've seen a team mature.”
ASU gets a rare opportunity in college football – the chance to get revenge on an opponent in the same season. Stanford beat ASU on Sept. 21 in what was a rout until the Sun Devils outscored the Cardinal 21-3 in the fourth quarter. “We thought (going in) we were pretty disciplined. We found out what a disciplined team looked like,” Graham said. “We are the contender. They are the defending champion. You have to take it from them.”
On Stanford's O-line: “Best offensive line we've played against all year, hands down. They don't get enough credit for the innovation they do offensively and what they do in the run game.”