Quotes From Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Nov. 3, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. -- 'There is no easy way for me to sit up here and sugar coat last Saturday's game. We got beat in all phases and, as I'm sure you can understand, for that reason we had no Players of the Week.

'We do continue to pick scout players of the week. This week they were Mike Affleck on offense, a freshman quarterback, Josh Barrett on defense, a safety, and Chad Green on special teams, a freshman cornerback. The extra captains for the Stanford game are Connor Banks and Jason Shivers.

'Stanford is playing very solidly on defense. They really got after UCLA and they had eight sacks. They are aggressive up front with a lot of different looks and a lot of blitz looks. They did some things last week that they hadn't done in their previous games this season and they caught UCLA off guard. Their special teams is productive, Luke Powell their wide receiver had a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown that was one of the biggest plays in that game. Their offense has been inconsistent at times but they've shown some flashes. They do a lot of different things you have to prepare for in your different personnel groups and, again, they have a guy in Luke Powell that, when he gets his hands on the ball, has the capability to go the distance at any time.'

Are you dealing with a tired football team?
'I don't know if we were tired [in the California game], but there's no question we couldn't get off blocks. That lack of energy thing, if we say that we'd be making excuses. We tried to back off practice a little bit last week because we were beat up after the UCLA game and I think we made a mistake with going in that direction because I don't think this team is ready for that.

'We probably hurt ourselves by practicing in shells last week. We need to get back, starting tomorrow, to getting off blocks and tackling. Do we have a tired football team? I don't think we any more tired than any other team in America.'

Is it tough to balance practicing in full pads with trying to keep your team healthy?
'Yeah it's tough, but we have to make decisions on what we think is best for that week. We made that decision last week and, looking back now, it was obviously a bad decision by me and we're not going to make that decision again this week.'

Does your team practice better with full pads?
'I just think that every team has its own maturity level and some teams can handle it better than others. Given the personality of this team, when we took full pads off, we might as well have been practicing in our underwear. We had two horrible days of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. We did practice better on Thursday, but I think by then it was really too late.'

What types of things did Stanford do defensively last week against UCLA to change it up and hold down UCLA's offense?
'They started playing some Buddy Ryan-style Bear defense, which they hadn't showed all year, and they got into it several times. They used a five-man rush, bringing their weak outside linebacker off the edge, and it was very effective. That is just one of those things that when that defense was real popular a few years ago, every team had a little package of it and with zone blitz coming into play, everyone's Bear defense package has kind of gone by the wayside. Stanford had not shown that in that previous games and they broke it out against UCLA. It's one of those things that if you don't prepare for it, it can catch you off guard.

'What that does is, the five-man rush basically singles up all five of your offensive lineman, where you don't have one guy as a free hitter, so your odds are that if one guy makes a mistake, your quarterback is probably going to be hit.'

What is the status of Andrew Walter going into the game this week compared to last week?
'I talked to Andrew today and he said that he feels today like he did last Thursday. In last Thursday's practice, he took about 75 percent of his normal reps. So, we knew that there would be some residual soreness of his ankle from just going out and doing the things you have to do in a game on it, but Andrew is up around where he was on Thursday, so I think that Andrew will be much improved in his condition come Saturday.'

Can we anticipate a lot of personnel changes heading into this week's game?
'No, I don't think so because I don't think we have a lot of personnel that we can change.'

What is the most important thing in finishing strong? Have you talked to players and do you feel that their heads are where they need to be?
'What goes on between our ears is the most important thing. Why don't you ask me that tommorow? I'm about half way done with where I need to be in that regard with talking to them.'

Are there players that have given up on the season?
'I think that you could say that there are some players, out of the 117 that are on our team, I think that is safe to say. I think that there are very few guys in that top-40, that are playing most of the football, who have given up. I think its somewhat in the nature of a guy that when you're not playing any downs at all, either as a redshirt or third team on the depth chart, I think its tough to go out there every day when you don't have the reward of the game to look forward to. Those type of guys were not the ones who played on Saturday.

'I think that there are guys on every college football team right now that are not 100% there mentally, but if you really look at our roster, and take out the kickers and the punters, there are about 35 guys who are doing most of the playing. I don't think that any of those guys are in that boat.'

What happens in the locker room between warm-ups and kickoff before the game?
'All of your preparation is done. When we are done with warm-ups, we usually have to be off of the field 20 minutes before kickoff and we have to be back out there about five minutes before kickoff. So we have about 15 minutes of down time. In that time, guys have to get tape fixed or re-taped, we always have one of the assistant coaches speak, I speak, we have a team prayer and they get a drink and it's time to go out. That's pretty typical of any team I've ever been on.'

Is the sense of urgency different on this team because you don't have a lot of seniors who are playing their last games?
'We need to make a statement that last Saturday is not what any of us want ASU football to be represented by. That's the second time in my career at Arizona State that I've had that feeling, the other time being at Arizona two years ago. It's one thing to lose a football game and know you've done everything you can and it just didn't go your way, but that's not the case from last week. There are some guys who will buy into playing for the other guys around them, including the seniors.

'Everybody wants to talk about the fun of college football but there was nothing fun about what happened on Saturday. There was not one ounce of fun in the way we played Saturday. Fun comes from doing the things you are capable of doing and playing close to your potential and when it comes together and you have the payoff from the hard work. I don't think that anybody who is a true competitor can say that they're not going to play hard whether we have three games, two games or one game. Putting anything into what happens next year, I'm not a believer in that at all.'

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