Postgame quotes from ASU/UA on November 25, 2005
Nov. 28, 2005
Arizona State 23, Arizona 20November 25, 2005
Arizona State Head Coach Dirk KoetterOn winning the Territorial Cup:'It's great to have that Territorial Cup back in our possession where it belongs and hopefully it doesn't go away for a long time.'
On the game:'In the first half we felt like we were our own worst enemy between penalties and not finishing off plays. We talked to the guys at halftime about how we just needed to win one play at a time. We won some plays in the first half, but the problem was we'd win one and lose the next two (plays). We needed to just string some plays together back-to-back.'
On the defense:'There was no question at all that our defense set the tempo. That's the defense we haven't seen probably since the first half of the USC game. That's how our defense played against USC, LSU and Northwestern. It was great to have those guys back because of the energy and excitement they brought to the rest of our team.'
On special teams:'I also think our special teams was huge today. I think coach (Tom) Osborne had an unbelievable game plan in all phases. He pressured their punt team and caused a safety in the first half. Also, what an awesome punt return by Terry Richardson to get us back within two, then we had the two-point play. It wasn't the prettiest game on offense, but in a rivalry game like this I know a lot of people counted us out at halftime and I'm so pleased and so proud of these players, headed by 19 seniors, and the coaching staff for hanging in there.'
On the offense:'In the fourth quarter, we ran the ball better than we did all day. We were trying to mix Keegan (Herring), Rudy (Burgess) and Preston (Jones) in the first half, but Rudy got in a good rhythm. Arizona was blitzing a lot, so we had to have Rudy in there a lot for blitz pickups. We just weren't as sharp as we normally are on offense today. We had chances to make a couple of plays that we didn't make, but there's only one stat that matters and that's who wins at the end of the game.'
On the game-winning kick:'How awesome was that to come down to a kick with eight seconds left on the clock with Jesse (Ainsworth) and our field goal team? Jesse is one of the best kickers around, but he just hasn't gotten that many chances to kick this year.'
On going to a bowl game this season:'I'm happy for our players because this is means a lot to our program. It's the third bowl in five years, back-to-back for the first time in since 2000. It all carries over to recruiting. It's 15 extra practices for our young guys. It's good for everything that is ASU football.'
Arizona State QB Rudy CarpenterOn the difficulty of their defense:'They were mixing it up a lot on us, bringing guys from all over the place, and confusing me a little bit, but that is why it is a team game and a team effort. That is what helped us win this game.'
On playing in his first rivalry game:'I didn't really know how much this meant to the state of Arizona until I was down on the field and I saw the crowd. It was exciting and I can't wait for the next three years.'
On getting to play in a bowl game:'It's four more weeks of training for me to get better. I'm also going to get bowl experience. Not every team gets to play in a bowl and I'm just excited that we are one of the teams that gets that opportunity.'
Arizona State K Jesse AinsworthThoughts on the final field goal:'They couldn't have set me up any better. It was just like a regular PAT. Jason (Burke) and Chad (Christenson) always do a great job of getting the ball set up right so I don't have anything to worry about, it was just like any other kick.'
On his punting in today's game:'Our whole team did a great job of blocking and making it easy for me. It gave me a lot of time back there to do well.'
When did you feel the momentum shift?:'Terry Richardson's return was huge. I think it was the turning point and basically the play of the game.'
On the play of the defense:'They did a great job in the second half. They held them to only a field goal in the second half, which is huge. They did a great job stepping up and making big plays.'
Arizona State WR Terry RichardsonOn his 71-yard punt return:'The blocking was perfect, everyone executed their individual jobs. When I caught the ball it had enough distance in the air to field it. I saw, I think number three or four, stop his feet and I knew it was on. I had the opportunity, I had the ball. I was just thinking `score, score, score'. I just needed a big play. I know the sun was more of a challenge than the kicker was. I really couldn't see. I was blinded by the sun.'
Arizona State WR Derek HaganOn slow first half:'U of A plays a lot of zone defense. They don't play any man coverage at all. It was very difficult to find holes when there are so many different guys dropping back. We just kept trying to run the ball. We needed to make big plays.'
On encouraging Rudy Carpenter:'I told him to keep playing. I told him to keep his head in the game and keep fighting. You just never know what is going to happen. The game came down to the wire and Rudy did his part. You never know how football games turn out.'
On securing a bowl bid:'We are playing right at home. We expect a lot of fans to turn out. It is right down the street, we are playing at Chase Field. We are definitely looking forward to it. We get to play another game. Our 19 seniors are really looking forward to it.'
On winning the rivalry game as a senior:'Its my senior year and just to go out with a win is great. Just the territorial cup back to Tempe is great, because I really don't think it belongs in Tucson.'
Arizona State TB/WR Rudy BurgessOn how Richardson's return impacted the momentum:'His return got us excited. The sidelines went crazy. The punt team worksreally good together. So, when Terry went up field, everyone else stepped up,made good blocks and got it done.'
On the team's overall shift of momentum:'We came out a little soft in the first half. We really couldn't really run theball very much. When we went into the locker at halftime, everybody gotrowdy. That gave some momentum for the second half. We got ourground game going, and things went better for us.'
Arizona State WR Matt MillerOn redeeming himself after last years lost:'I'm 2-2 against these guys. It's a big deal to get a win. I had a lot of revenge going in from last year. All I have to say to that is, `How do you like me now?' Its been on my mind for one year. I just wanted to finish it out strong. We fought back in the second half.'
'It was my last play ever in Sun Devil Stadium. I'm glad I finished out strong and made a good catch. There were little holes I had to get into and Rudy [Carpenter] just threw it straight to me.'
Arizona QuotesArizona Head Coach Mike Stoops'Obviously, I was very disappointed in the final score but very pleased with the overall effort and execution of our team for the majority of the game. We lost some key personnel in the fourth quarter. Their play really improved as the game went on and their defensive line did an excellent job. That was a point of attack, as we were down to our third running back and not having Willie Tuitama, I thought we might have gotten a little conservative. We just seemed to have lost our rhythm and they started to put a lot of pressure on us and we didn't handle it very well in the fourth quarter.
'Defensively, we handled things very well for the majority of the game. They are a difficult team to stop consistently. They throw the ball as well as anybody and I want to give them credit where its due. I'm happy that they are going to a bowl game and giving us another representative from the Pac-10. I guess that there is a silver lining to this. It's a hard fought game and I was very pleased with our effort.'
On Special teams:'We were kind of average. We left a field goal out there and our coverage teams had problems. We knew we had done a decent job on the returns, except for the one after the safety, on containing Richardson, but on that touchdown, they did a great job. They blocked us well and they pinned us as they ran a sideline return. We just didn't react very well to it.'
On Mike Bell:'Losing Mike really hurt. We were running the ball well and you could tell he was having one of those games and running the ball well. There was no question that he was on his way to having a big day. They made a great hit on him and that was the end of that. We knew he was going to do well, as it was the last game of his career here.'
On Syndric Steptoe:'He's gotten better and better and has become a quality receiver. I really like his development as a player. He shows a lot of maturity and he's better as a receiver. He is a real competitor and a big play, reliable guy.
On losing the players:'We had played pretty good defense, but they started running the ball in the third quarter and it got us off-balance. The run game we had controlled until that point (Bell's injury) and that hurt us. Their ability to run the counter play hurt because they executed very well. We got the ball back and we were still up eight and we had worked the two-point play about 20 times in practice, but just couldn't execute.
'It's football. Richard (Kovalchek) came in and threw some great balls. I was very happy to see that. The next guy steps in and plays. That's how it is. We showed that we have some more quality depth, which is something we didn't have two years ago. We have some great youth, and we're losing some great seniors, but the young guys just need the opportunity. We were out there with two or three seniors the whole game. We were playing a team on the road that was fighting for their life, for a bowl game. I was disappointed we lost, I'll never accept losing. But as long as we give good effort and we execute what we are attempting to do, then I'm pleased. I was pleased with the way we played most of the night. We played a pretty decent game, considering the circumstances.'
Arizona DE Copeland BryanOn fourth quarter:'We had lost a couple of guys on offense and our defense was worn out. The defensewas out there a long time and I think that had a lot to do with our communication on thefield breaking down. The wear and tear on the defense was a big part. The defense isreal disappointed that we were able to hold them in the first half, and then we weren't atthe end. We were not able to get that final stop. Losing Mike [Bell] and [Willie Tuitama]was a tremendous hurt to our offense.'
On tonight's game:'We did a lot of things real well on offense and defense. I wish them the best next yearand I think they have a real talented team. We are improving and they will only get betterand better.'
Arizona TE Brad WoodOn ASU rivalry:'This was a huge game. It always is a huge game and it was close just like last year. Isaw a lot of great things that our team did. Arizona State did a great job of coming backthere at the end. But I definitely saw some things that I hope we carry over into next year.It is an emotional game, and it gets rough out there. You are trying to hit people andknock people out; that's the passion of the game. You have to overcome [injury]. We fell a little bit short today.'