Tuesday's Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 4, 2003

Opening Comments
'It was a nice win (versus UCLA). The team played hard and feels better about itself right now. We are looking forward to Arizona State this week.'

On Last Year's Game Against Arizona State
'(Arizona State) scored a lot of points (last year). They certainly do not forget, but it's a different year. It was a tough loss last year, and we'll work harder and make sure we give a better presentation this season.'

On Stanford's Motivation
'They're smart guys and very self-motivated as well. A couple of guys have brought it to my attention and the big thing is focusing on what we do and how we do it and the execution, which certainly made a difference on Saturday.'

On Arizona State's Offense
'(Arizona State quarterback) Andrew Walter had a tremendous game last year, he threw the ball extremely well. He's a big guy and an accurate passer and has good mobility for a larger quarterback. The wide receivers (Skyler) Fulton and (Derek) Hagan are very talented, have good speed and run different routes. The offensive line protects well. They've got a couple big backs, and they can dish the ball off to them. So, they've got some good tools and some real athletes with which they can move the ball offensively. And Walter is as good a quarterback as there is in this league.'

On Stanford's Starting Quarterback
'Chris Lewis will start. Trent Edwards will be available. We worked through the practice week (last week) with Edwards, and he is healthy. His attitude is very solid and he's ready to go.'

On Last Saturday's Victory Over UCLA
'We're very pleased. We talked earlier on (in the season) about a total team effort, and that's really what we need each week. Our special teams executed very well. Luke Powell's (punt) return was very timely and gave us an emotional lift. That's something we've been working hard on, and we really put emphasis last week on Luke catching every punt, and he gave us great field position. Eric Johnson did a tremendous job punting the football and hit them a good distance, an average of 47 yards (47.2) with four inside the 20 yard line and that forces the other team to play a long field. The guys on special teams coverage did a very good job because UCLA has some talented returners, and we did a good job against them.

Offensively, we were opportunistic. Chris Lewis put the ball in the end zone on a nice drive in the second quarter. It was a 13-play drive with no mistakes, good decisions and good execution. We played smart football and when we punted it away we usually put the defense in a good situation with regard to field position.

Defensively, we tackled well. After the first or second series, we played very solidly and attacked the quarterback. We did a nice job of pressuring the quarterback. The defensive ends had as strong a performance as they've had all season. The four down linemen played well, and the cover guys did a nice job against some talented wide receivers. Leigh Torrence and Stanley Wilson had a couple pass break-ups. Oshiomogho Atogwe and T.J. Rushing played well and Trent Hooper had an interception. So really it was team football, and that's what we need to do to have success.'

On Stanford's Improvement On Special Teams
'My attitude has always been that our best players will play on special teams. Occasionally, guys will have a problem or feel tired or what not, but I think it's been a source of pride to say that you play as one of 22 players on special teams in addition to being the starting defensive back, linebacker or wide receiver. (Special teams coach) Tom Quinn has done a tremendous job along those lines. Most of the staff is very helpful in different areas. We put a lot of time into it, and we play a lot of young players. Marcus McCutcheon, Trevor Hooper, Michael Okwo, and a lot of the older guys like Jon Alston, David Bergeron, Brian Gaffney, Jared Newberry, Drew Caylor and Scott Scharff are all heavily involved. It was a mindset we developed in the offseason and you can see the results. We've added more speed with some of the redshirt class that's stepped up. I think the time input is really paying dividends.'

On The Upcoming Game Against Arizona State
'I look at Arizona State as a break-out type team with big play capabilities any time they touch the football. Defensively, they're aggressive and very athletic in all spots. Again, it will be a team effort preparing for ASU.'

On Stanford's Leadership
'I'm very impressed with the resilience and the resolve of the players across the board. We don't have any one (leader). We've encouraged that and talked about that. So we've encouraged the younger players to step up as well as the older players, and they're doing their jobs.'

On Building Off Last Week's Win Over UCLA
'We haven't changed a whole lot of things during the course of the season. We've obviously tweaked things but really the approach taken and the expectations of our players have been consistent. From a player's perspective, seeing that hard work, a direction, a continued effort, and a relentless mindset pay off with a win against a big football team is a big plus. If you do it, do it well, and do it with enthusiasm ... then success will follow. So, we're not going to get overly excited about one win. We learned that if we execute and perform and play hard together then you have an opportunity to win. That's really what you look for each Saturday, and we especially want to play like a team. That's the affirmation that I want in the player's heads. When we play as a group, when we take care of our responsibilities, then good things happen.'

On Stanford's Defense
'Everybody carried out their responsibilities and assignments. We have athletes that can spring free. Schematically, we have the opportunity to get guys one-on-one, and it comes down to a kind of warrior mentality. That means that when it comes down to it, you need to win more than the other guy does. I thought our players competed very hard. Will Svitek, Louis Hobson, Julian Jenkins and Oshiomogho Atogwe played well. Michael Craven also played very well. He's an athletic guy and executed his responsibilities very well.'

On Linebacker MichaelCraven Winning Pac-10 Defensive Player Of The Week Honors
'We were looking for an awareness and a maturity. Athletically, he is gifted, but playing within the system, being accountable for his area of responsibility, and executing the scheme were important. He did a tremendous job on special teams, was instrumental in the punt return and had a couple tackles on kickoff coverage. He's playing with a lot of emotion, which, coupled with his athleticism, allows him to do special things. Studying tape and being prepared mentally to execute our defense put him in the right place quite often and then the athleticism takes over. (Special teams coach) Tom Quinn put a great scheme together for him that really helped highlight his athleticism.'

On Stanford's Offense
'Stats are deceiving. (The question is) what do you need to do in order to have success? We know our defense is playing well, so field position becomes very important. Not turning the football over and creating advantageous opportunities for the opponent is critical. So it's, well I hate to use the term, but it's a conservative approach. You play to the constraints of your players, and we continue to emerge in that regard. I thought our pass protection was greatly improved on Saturday, and I would say each week we've seen progress in a lot of those young linemen. That allows the quarterback to do a little bit more so we had a couple of bigger plays. We had a couple good drives, one in the first quarter and the big one in the second quarter, where we could see the guys execute. We combined some play action as well as running the football, and some drop back passes as well. That's what we need to do consistently. I feel like we're progressing offensively and playing within ourselves, which is important.'

On Quarterback ChrisLewis
'I thought he played well and executed the game plan effectively.'

On Stanford's Second Half Offensive Strategy
'Field position was important. Moving the chains and having them play a long field, then playing solid defense and using the clock was exactly what we needed to do. The players executed it quite well. Chris (Lewis) made some timely passes. Having that team approach and not getting concerned with numbers will put us in a greater position for success.'

On Free Safety OshiomoghoAtogwe
'He's been very solid. I talked about leaders, and I neglected to mention him. He's been phenomenal. He's a guy who loves to play, and he's a physical player. He brings people who are around him to a higher level of performance. His tackling and pass break-ups speak for themselves. He's been very effective for us.'

On Stanford's Running Game And Arizona State's Rushing Defense
'We like Kenny Tolon. He squeezes out yards and never takes that big hit. He finds a way to make yardage. J.R. Lemon ran hard; Gerald Commissiong ran a couple times and made a few blocks at fullback. David Marrero is still kind of nursing a knee, hopefully he'll be back soon. So we'll play all three of those guys, and we expect them to contribute on the ground. The offensive line moves a little bit further forward with each game under their belt. I have great respect for Arizona State. I have heard talk that they may adjust their defensive package and do some things that they talked about earlier in the season, which we'll find out on Saturday. They're a good defensive group, and we need to execute well against them.

On Wide Receiver MarkBradford
'We had high expectations for him. He's a very athletic guy, a quick learner and a tremendous competitor. We hoped for what has resulted with a guy that can move forward very quickly, and we rely on him tremendously.'

On Stanford's Outlook
'You never want to get too comfortable or too satisfied. The expectation is to compete every Saturday with the expectation of having success. When you do (succeed), you're obviously excited about it, but you put it behind you. The players enjoyed it Saturday after the ballgame and Sunday when they watched the tape. They've really impressed me along those lines regardless of the outcome. Just put it behind and go to work on the next opportunity. We just stress consistency. We don't want peaks and valleys, just consistent across the board.'

On Stanford's Offensive Line
'I think they're moving forward on both (pass blocking and run blocking). They are taking pressure off the quarterback, but it's tough to say one over the other. They're complete players, and I've seen that starting to take shape. They've played a number of games, and they still have a long ways to go, but their mindset is solid and we've seen improvement.'

On Weather Conditions This Saturday
'We've considered that, and it looks like a little rain Thursday and Friday, so we might practice with a wet ball. Fortunately, the field itself held up pretty well last week. It was a little wet from rain prior to the game on Saturday.'

Closing Statement
'I thought our guys competed hard. I thought it was a team effort. Our offense, defense and special teams all contributed. I thought the execution was at a higher level, which we would expect. Each game we hope to improve. Our resolve to play hard and play smart was rewarded with a win.

Arizona State has an outstanding team. They have a lot of talent and a lot of speed. We have to play a thorough game against them with a complete game of offense, defense, and special teams. (Quarterback) Andrew Walter is as good if not better than anybody else at that position in this league, so we have to be prepared for a talented guy like him.'

'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.'

Quotes from Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter courtesy of the Arizona State media relations office.

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