Coach Koetter Talks About ASU-UA Rivalry At His Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 20, 2001

Quoting Arizona State Head Football Coach Dirk Koetter
November 19, 2001

'That's a pretty impressive trophy (Territorial Cup). To be part of a game like this, I'm not sure a coach or a player can do justice to that until maybe a few years down the road. To have a chance to look back and say I had a chance to be part of a game like that, that's a pretty awesome experience for our players.'

'We took Friday and Saturday off with the players, and our coaches used their last evaluation days for recruiting. We had a full practice yesterday, and we were rested and healthy. Our players are off today, like they normally are, and we will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the game on Friday. It's a little strange to have your rivalry game on a Friday.'

'We are in our new weight room now, it's up and running...It's awesome. It's going to be a huge developmental factor in our football program and all of our athletic programs, and also in recruiting.'

'We're looking forward to Friday a lot as a team. We've had several speakers address our team regarding the rivalry in the last few weeks. Dr. Bob Fleming the retiring band director was awesome the other day. He is retiring after 28 years as the head of the Arizona State Marching Band. He did a great job.'

'One of our big pushes with our seniors was the fact that the legacy they have a chance to leave with our football program is three straight wins over Arizona. That's a lot to be said for those guys, and that's something for them to go out on.'

'Jeff (Krohn) had an MRI done on his shoulder on Friday, and all that MRI revealed was that he had some tendonitis on the outside of his rotator cuff. I told him I had tendonitis on the outside of my rotator cuff too, so get in there. Jeff practiced yesterday, threw the ball very well, and as I said, I think we'll be at full strength Friday.'

'Shaun (McDonald) has had a great year, and his stats bare that out. We saw all the way back in spring ball and at camp Tontozona that Shaun is a playmaker, and he can create plays. Even myself, I wasn't a believer that he could consistently make plays on balls where he had to leave his feet as often as he's done this year. When you see a guy do it once or twice in a game you think, okay was that just a lucky catch. We knew he was quick, we knew he had speed, and he could get behind people. He's done it every game. He's made catches in traffic, he's left his feet. I think if you talk to the other coaches in the conference, he has played his way into one of the most respected receivers in the Pac-10, and there are a lot of good ones.'

'The rivalry game at Boise State is the University of Idaho. In Idaho, that's the biggest game going. You have 30,000 people in a 30,000 seat stadium, and it's the biggest sporting event in the state of Idaho. We were lucky enough to be on the winning end of it two out of the last three years.'

'There's a ton of great rivalry games in college football, it makes it fun for everybody, the fans as well as the players and coaches. Arizona-Arizona State, this is our rivalry game. We don't care about Alabama and Auburn or Missouri and Kansas, or anything else like that. We care about Arizona-Arizona State. Of course, this is a huge game for us because it's the one we play in. I've coached in a lot of different places and I've been a part of some great rivalry games, and I'm sure this is going to top all of them because this is the one I'm in.'

'I think anytime the two rival teams have alums that stay in the same metro area, those games are the most heated because those fans have to work with each other and talk about the other 364 days a year...This year we have two teams with pretty similar records who are in pretty similar spots in the Pac-10 conference. I don't believe that rivalry games have to be close just because they are rivals.'

'I think a lot of the ways a coach and a coaching staff approach a rivalry game depends on where the two programs are at. I think maybe your approach changes a little bit depending on what's on the line. I think in this particular case with where the two teams are this year, whichever team wins this game is going to feel a whole lot better about themselves for the rest of the year, and going into recruiting. In this particular case, we try to tell our players to think of it as a one week season. We tried to do some things extra that we don't for a normal game, like having a speaker in practice. With that said, let's not kid ourselves, any motivational tactics you use only last so long...After the game starts, it's football time and preparation takes over.'

'Sixty-thousand people is a lot. I don't exactly what the attendance is, but I know that the 60,000 that come on Friday are going to have a great time, because it's going to be an awesome college football game. There's nothing out there better than a college football rivalry on Thanksgiving weekend. I hope those 60,000 will call up some of their friends and one day get it back to 75,000 where it belongs. Those 60,000 are going to be in for a treat on Friday.'

'From a recruiting standpoint, obviously having in-state bragging rights is huge. But you guys know that there are kids that have crossed over and gone to the other school regardless of who wins this game, and that's going to probably continue forever. There are a lot of other factors that go into recruiting. But, certainly from our standpoint, we like our standpoint for in-state recruiting.'

'Until yesterday, we hadn't seen Jeff Krohn throw the ball at full speed. But Jeff made all the throws he had to make yesterday. Up until yesterday there was no decision to be made, Andrew Walter was the starter, now after yesterday's practice we are still in the process of deciding what gives us the best chance to beat Arizona, that's the only decision to be made.'

'The biggest issue right now is that Jeff has had three games where he hasn't finished. That makes it very difficult on all of us, Jeff, Andrew, the coaches and the rest of the players. When you prepare with a starting quarterback, it's no one's fault because no one can control injuries, but when you lose your starting quarterback and the gameplan is based around him, that's tough. That's tough on all of us.'

'That's the beauty of having a bye week, we have two game plans right now. We have an Andrew game plan and we have a Jeff game plan. That's going to be the main thing this week in practice, deciding which way we're going to go with that.'

'I think Arizona has pretty darn good skill people. As I've told other people, I think their running back, Farmer, is among the top running backs in the conference. I voted for him first-team all-Pac-10. That's how good of a player I think he is. Anytime you have a very dangerous running back, that makes it the focal point of your defense is you better shut down that running game. Coach (John) Mackovic has made it perfectly clear that he is not afraid to throw the ball downfield from anyplace, backed up or whatever. They are not afraid to drop back there and let it go, and they have some dangerous receivers, especially Bobby Wade, who is very similar to Shaun McDonald as a proven playmaker in this league.'

'Defensively, the thing that makes Arizona unique is they play a different defense than everybody else you play. Their scheme is totally different, it makes it tough to prepare. They are very well coached, and they have some exceptional players. Arizona has good players, we've got good players, we're matched up, so let's get those 60,000 people plus 15,000 more and see who wins on Friday.'

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