Quotes From ASU Head Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference
Oct. 6, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. -- 'I thought we played hard for three quarters against USC, not necessarily great, but we played the best all year against by far the best team we have played all year. We had chances to do better than we did. We did not play well at all in the fourth quarter. When we got down 10 points that we sort of got that 'here we go again' mentality that you have when you are on a team that is on a losing streak. This is not acceptable, we have to get this changed or else we aren't going to get anything done.
'Scout players of the week were Mike Pollak on the offensive side, Chad Green, a freshman corner on defense, and Tyrice Thompson, a wide receiver, was player of the week on special teams. All three of those guys are redshirting.
'As for players of the game, on offense it was Derek Hagan. I thought the hard work Derek has put in at practice paid off well in the game. Derek had a couple things he could have done better on the blocking side and also had the fumble, but he competed, caught the ball well on the inside, and ran well after the catch. I'm very happy for him.
'Riccardo Stewart was our defensive player of the game. He continues to play well. Jason Shivers was the player of the game on special teams, as he continues to do well in that area. The captains for the Oregon game besides Andrew and Riccardo, will be Skyler Fulton and Jimmy Verdon.
'Against USC, it was our worst ratio of the year giving up big plays, as we gave up eight big plays and only created seven negative plays on defense. That's by far the worst ratio we have had all year, then again we were playing the best offensive team we have played all year. But, I thought that our ability after we gave up the big play was lacking in that we didn't come back very fast. After we give up the big play, we need to come back in sync.
'Oregon started on fire as every knows, they won their first four and lost their last two. I think the strength of their offense is their wide receivers. Demetrius Williams has really come on, leading the Pac 10 in avg. yards per catch. Demetrius Williams is a guy out of De La Salle High School that we have known about and tried to recruit. Demetrius is having an excellent year.
'Then there is Samie Parker, who might be the fastest guy in the Pac-10, and there are a lot of fast guys in the Pac-10. They have two really good deep threats as they are throwing the ball down field and leading the Pac-10 in yards per catch. Games where they have avoided turnovers, they have played really well.
'As coach Belloti said, on defense their front four is really solid. Those guys are big strong guys, I know they have had some injuries, but they are still very formidable. They have two excellent individuals on defense. Kevin Mitchell is their inside linebacker, he is a fun player to watch. He plays the game hard and with a lot of passion. Then there is their free safety Keith Lewis who has been a great player in the Pac-10 his whole career. He is also an excellent special teams player who has blocked a couple punts. He is someone you have to account for, he is a playmaker. He is kind of like what Jason Shivers is to us, he is all over the field.
'Recruiting-wise, we had 14 recruits here on their official visits this past Saturday. We are very happy with how that went, we have never experienced anything like that where we had more than one or two visit during the season. I think that is the wave of the future in recruiting and I think that all the guys had a real nice experience here. Next weekend we are going to have six to eight more visit for the 12:30 game. We learned some things we can do better on that this week.'
How do you compare Oregon's receivers to USC's?
'I think those two guys USC had last week are going to be first-round draft picks. I just don't know which year for one of them. The other two guys for Oregon are tremendous players, who haven't accomplished as much in their careers as the two who played last week. As a pair, as a duo, they are tough to stop. This is the first year Demetrius Williams has gotten on the field. So he is just coming into his own and getting better and better every week. Samie Parker always has been able to beat everyone deep, this is his most consistent year he has had and with his great speed he will have a career doing something.'
Is R.J. Oliver healthy?
'That's a great question. I don't really know the answer to that. I thought we were going to have a healthy R.J. Oliver for the last three weeks. R.J. worked out hard Saturday right before the game with the trainers and the strength coaches. He ran hard with the team yesterday, the best I've seen him run. Today he won't run, he will just rehab and get treatment and give it a go. I sure hope so, I know R.J. wants to get out there very badly. I know it's hurting him to not be out there and help out the team. Until he can do it for several plays in a row at full speed, we won't know.'
Have Oregon's corners changed much from last year?
'They are good corners. They compete, they are quick and fast. But much like our defense, they put a lot of pressure on those guys.'
Last year's Oregon game was a huge game for ASU. Can you reflect on that? Is there a residual effect?
'That was a huge win for us. They were undefeated and ranked sixth in the nation at the time. At that time, no one was able to go into Eugene and win. I believe they had lost one out of their last fifty games at Autzen Stadium. We went in there and had a great day, the kind of game you are in the business for. You can remember it your whole life, nobody can take it away from those who have ties to the program. It's a game you will always remember.
'But that was then and this is now. I've looked at the tapes and Mike said he was going to look at the tapes. It's a chess match, what parts get taken out of that and stuck in here. There are totally different guys playing now. There were guys missing who were big factors in that game and some new guys on the scene.
Is it tough to prepare for a team that plays two quarterbacks?
'I think that's way overblown. I've watched tape, Oregon runs the same offense. I don't think they do that much differently. I think Fife tries to run a bit more, as he is a better runner. You prepare for their schemes more so than their individual quarterbacks. Our offenses are very similar, we know some of the things they are going to do. When they get in trouble, we know they are going to use their sprint protection, which we use a lot too. I think both teams know each other pretty well, but both teams will have surprises for each other. But the two-quarterback system doesn't have a big effect.'
Has your offense become predictable?
'People are certainly telling me it is. We do a self-scout every week. We do a self-scout based on down and distance, based on personnel we have in the game and based on formation. I look at those numbers every week and try to gauge whether we are too predictable or not.
'For three quarters against USC, that was the offense I like. Against Iowa, I don't even know where that offense came from. I don't know that offense, I've never seen that offense in practice. I don't think we are predictable but I think we are still finding our way. It's really easy to say after a play is over, what you would've, or should've done. It's a lot different when you are the guy with the headset on.'
How did your offensive line play on Saturday?
'Overall they played okay. They didn't play great, but our offensive line was playing against a great defensive line. We gave up the most sacks that we have had, but three of those five sacks came after the game was decided. As I said, we didn't do a good job in any phase in that fourth quarter. We just got beat individually a couple times. That's the best front we have played against, maybe the best we will play against all year. I think our offensive line is doing fine.'
Do you expect Oregon to walk up their safeties since you had so much success running early against USC?
'Absolutely. Oregon walks up their safeties against everybody. Michigan was averaging 307 yards per game rushing, and they rushed for negative yardage against Oregon. That's a big change. Nick Aliotti (Oregon's defensive coordinator) has always said, 'If you're going to beat me, you're going to beat me throwing the ball down the field,' and that's worked well for him.'
Has Derek Hagan shown signs of being a receiver you've been looking for all year?
'Yeah, he does. Derek has been practicing well and it showed up in the game. Andrew wasn't just looking for Derek, and he was very consistent in his plays. I thought that Derek did a nice job with his routes, he was physical, he ran with the ball after he caught it. He's been practicing just like that.
'I think another guy that has really improved over the last few weeks has been Terry Richardson. Andrew is developing some confidence in Terry as well.'
Has Andrew met your expectations so far this year?
'Probably not, but I would say Andrew and myself and Mark Helfrich have much higher expectations for Andrew than anyone else. Andrew played much, much better against USC. He was back to his old self. He threw the ball on time, he had much better footwork, he had better rhythm in his drops and he was trusting the receivers to be where they were so supposed to be.
'When I say that he hasn't met expectations, I mean that because I have very high expectations, not because I am disappointed in Andrew. No one wants to win more than Andrew Walter. He's working as hard as he can. As I look around, I'm not seeing any quarterbacks I'd trade him for, I like that guy on my team.'