Inside ASU Football

Nov. 12, 2002

I thought this was important to get this out early this week. First and foremost, in the aftermath of the extremely difficult loss to Cal, I want to touch on the topic of our seniors:

Josh Amobi Mike Barth
Solomon Bates James Beal
Brian Biang Jay Breckenridge
Matt Cooper OJ Hackett
Dustin Hollins Phil Howard
Greg Pieratt Mike Pinkard
Justin Taplin Adrian Thomas
Darrel Turner Mason Unck
Al Williams Patrick Wilson

These players have done a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for our program and leading us to a winning season this year. As I was quoted in 'The Arizona Republic' last week, it was an 'awkward' situation having our last home game of the year with three, possibly four, games remaining to be played. I went on to say that any player who comes out here (football practice) every day is a Sun Devil for life and that I have the utmost respect for all of our players. In no way did I intend to demean this senior class. We fully intend to salute our seniors at the annual football banquet following the Arizona game. Also, the 14 seniors who are on our 60-man travel squad addressed the team individually last Friday night before the Cal game. They talked about a wide range of topics, but the two most common themes were 'trust and fun.' Ten of the 14 players mentioned how much these two things have meant to this year's team. The other factor that played into the pre-game format was the fact that we were appearing on Fox Sports Net for the first time this season. Fox asked us for a later kickoff than usual (4:42 PM) so they could throw it back to the studio show after setting the scene from Sun Devil Stadium. This request, which ASU complied with, meant that we had to come onto the field at 4:38, four minutes prior to kickoff. This would have made it very difficult, if not impossible, to squeeze in 18 senior introductions.

In retrospect, we should have made our fans aware of our decision to wait on our acknowledgement of our seniors, given the importance of our remaining games in the conference race and our impending banquet on the horizon. I can tell by the reaction of the fans that having an on-field acknowledgment is very important and I will take the necessary steps to prevent this type of misunderstanding in the future.

As for the Cal game itself, we let an opportunity for a Pac-10 win slip away. As always, I take full responsibility. We started strong on defense, but couldn't get anything going early on offense. When we finally did take the lead at 10-7, we hoped to seize control of the game with a 'bunt' onside kick. This play had worked earlier in the season against Cal, and the opening was there. We had executed the play perfectly in practice all week (much like the fake punt vs. Oregon.) Unfortunately, it didn't work this time and Cal scored on the next play. Please remember that we were still able to overcome this and take a lead late in the third quarter. As always, after reviewing the tape, there are many bright spots and fantastic individual performances. There are also too many turnovers, alignment penalties, and costly mistakes. We will continue to work hard on correcting and improving.

I know this team and this coaching staff will not give up in any way. We have two huge games left and will do everything in our power to represent ASU, its alumni and fans to the best of our ability!


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