Quotes From ASU Head Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference.
Nov. 4, 2002
'As has been reported, Danny Masaniai has been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules. Justin Taplin will be back with us this week after serving one-game suspension. From an injury standpoint, Josh Amobi is day-to-day. Matt Fawley is day-to-day but medically he is cleared to play with his broken arm. Adrian Ayala, unfortunately, had a severe ankle sprain and that could lead to surgery but we will not know that until later on this week. It was an ugly play on film, a player fell on the back of his leg and it was not pretty. The best-case scenario would be to have him back for the Arizona game but it could be much longer. We have plenty of guys bumped and bruised but nothing that will keep anybody out of the Cal game.
'In regards to the Washington State game, they have a good football team. They played better than we did. That team won ten games a year ago and has a lot of players back. We're known as a team that has pretty good team speed, but Washington State had better team speed than we did, across the board. They are the best football team we've played this year. They executed the way they needed to and we didn't.
'That being said, we still had plenty of opportunities to make that a very competitive football game. We got off to a horrendous start, but despite that, with 1:30 to go in the first half, I was 100% sure we were going to go into half being down only a touchdown. If you remember the play, we tried to throw a slant route, Shaun [McDonald] tipped it and it was intercepted. The next play, they threw a jump-ball touchdown where Jerome Riley made a tremendous catch. That was a big 14-point turnaround right before the half. We still had a couple chances in the second half to get back into the game, but every time we needed to make a play, we didn't make any of them. That's the big mystery. Why do we get beat in all three phases? Why do eight to 10 players play their worst game of the year on the same day? Those are issues that we will work through.
'We did not have a good week of practice last week and the team knows that. I think our team is embarrassed by the way we played and I think you'll see a team that is hungry and anxious to compete against Cal in our final home game of the season. We hope our crowd will come out and support this team that has had an excellent year. All the experts that picked our team to finish ninth in the Pac-10 are the same experts that had us as the 16th-best team in the nation last week. We must be doing something right. For our guys to hang our heads and think the season is over, I think that's ridiculous. We've done a lot of good things and there is a big difference between finishing the season 10-3 or 7-6. The only thing we lost control of last Saturday was controlling our destiny for the Rose Bowl. All we need to do is worry about what we need to do.
'There were some players that played well, Daryl Lightfoot and Skyler Fulton I will single out on offense. Daryl made some fantastic catches and made a great play when he downed that ball on the one-yard line. He competed hard. Skyler continues to play well. On defense, Solomon Bates was so physically ill in the 48 hours prior to the game that for him to get on the field and compete like he did was an awesome effort. Shane Jones probably had his best game. He has continued to get better and better as the season has progressed.
'Our captains for Cal will be Andrew Walter, Riccardo Stewart and Terrell Suggs. Quick notes about Cal, the fact that they start 14 seniors jumps out at you and Kyle Boller is one of them who was probably the most highly recruited quarterback in the country when he came out of high school. Jeff Tedford [Cal's coach] has them playing very, very hard. They have a tremendous special teams unit and they have unbelievable turnover ratio. That will be one of our focuses, to take care of the football.'
How would assess the adjustments you made in the 2nd half against WSU?
'I haven't thought about it. We didn't do what we had to do. People have a tendency to overestimate the importance of second-half adjustments. It's not like we go into the locker room and chalk up a whole new offense. Scheme-wise, things were there but we just didn't execute. Andrew Walter, I have to give him credit, will be the first to admit that his fourth-and-one throw to Mike Karney can be made in his sleep, but he just didn't make it that time. Our schemes are fine.'
What side of the ball can Cal's great turnover margin be attributed and also what kind of focus will you put on your turnover margin?
'That's a very valid stat. Every time we've been minus for turnovers for the game we've lost and every time we've been plus or even we've won. We try to make that an emphasis every week. Cal's offense does a great job of protecting the ball but their defense really gets after the ball. They strip it and their defensive backs do a great job of playing the ball in the air. Their special teams do a good job as well.'
What kind of problems does Kyle Boller present?
'Well, Kyle Boller is playing the best he's played in his career. Jeff [Tedford] has him playing very well and he's making good decisions. He's not as mobile as [WSU quarterback Jason] Gesser and doesn't have as quick of a release. He's having an excellent year and he's right in there as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he can definitely beat you.'
Talk about Cal's running back Joe Igber and the problems he presents.
'He is very quick and what I've noticed is that he sometimes makes an unblocked defender miss. He has very quick change of directions and I think he's a little quicker than he is fast. He's another one of those guys who is kind of small but extremely quick and he can make you look silly.'
What did you see of your o-line against WSU that you can use as a lesson against Cal?
'First off, Rien Long is probably the best defensive tackle in the Pac-10, that guy is an excellent player. We threw the ball 51 times and one out of ten times we had somebody get beat in an individual matchup [on the line]. Cal's ends are somewhat similar to WSU's. WSU had fast defensive ends, like old-school outside linebackers. WSU's guys were about 245 lbs. whereas Cal's guys are more in the 260 range, but they're still fast. The thing that our guys will take away is that we went up against a guy like Long who had an excellent counter move. There are very few guys in the Pac-10 who are sophisticated enough in their pass rush to have very many counter moves. WSU had ends who were spinners who would engage our tackles and then spin to the inside. Long had an array of moves.'
Cal ranks last in the league in total defense, why is that?
'In the film I've watched, when I saw that stat, I was surprised. It doesn't look that way to me. Their rush defense stats are low as far as the conference goes but the fact that their defensive stats are low doesn't show up in game film. USC had a good game against them and WSU had a good game against them, but WSU's offense is so different from ours that it's tough to take anything from that. I really don't know the answer to your question.'
How well do you know Cal coach Jeff Tedford?
'I know Jeff fairly well. Jeff and I became friends when I left Oregon to go to Boise State and he replaced me. I think Jeff is an excellent football coach and I think the fans will be able to see the similarities in our offensive styles. He and I talked when he got the Cal job and he told me that he was going to be his own offensive coordinator and I encouraged that. I think Jeff is similar philosophically to what we are. When you see him get all his people in place over the next few years you'll see that our offenses look a lot alike. In the Pac-10, we exchange game film every week and I always like watching Cal's offense. I get some good ideas watching how Cal impacts some other people.'
Do you see anything with Cal's red-zone offense?
'They're something like second in the nation in red-zone efficiency on offense. They're something like 95%. I've always believed that in a tight conference race, a team with the best red-zone percentage on offense is usually the team that finished up there in the conference rankings. But, to show you what I know, Washington State is last in the conference in red-zone efficiency.'
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