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September 18, 2006Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter spoke with reporters on Monday in his weekly press conference as his 3-0 team prepares to travel to the Bay Area for its first Pac-10 game of the season, against Cal.
"To begin with, I'll give you the players of the week. Our scout player for offense is Kyle Williams, freshman wide receiver and for defense is Chad Lindsey, a sophomore linebacker, and our special teams player of the week was [linebacker] Andy Howe. On offense we gave the award to [sophomore tailback] Keegan Herring. He played a nice game, averaged nine yards a carry. He played the best game of the season. It's nice to see him settle in. On defense we gave the ball to [junior cornerback] Justin Tryon. Justin played an outstanding overall game. He did a lot of good things on defense and special teams On special teams [junior wide receiver] Rudy Burgess was given the award. Rudy had a huge hit on that one punt that caused a fumble, we didn't get it. Considering Rudy didn't practice last week we were really happy he played; he played about 30 yards. The best effort award was given to [sophomore wide receiver] Mike Jones blocking that punt. Best hit was Rudy Burgess on that punt. The play of the game was Justin Tryon's tackle deep in the red zone, it appeared as if Colorado was going to have an easy touchdown and Justin stopped the ball carrier for no gain. Our captains for the California game will be [sophomore quarterback] Rudy Carpenter, [junior tight end] Zach Miller, [junior defensive tackle] Michael Marquardt and Justin Tryon.
We played very hard against Colorado, it was probably the best effort we have given all season. Our execution was not that great, we didn't execute like we're going to need to against Cal, but you can't fault our effort at all. Turnovers and penalties really hurt our offense. We had four turnovers and nine penalties on the offense. We have been so good at finishing out drives and scoring in the red zone and that is what we did not do against Colorado, we were horrible on that. That is why the game is 21-3 and not worse that that. We did do a good job on third down. Let me go back to that turnover margin, we are now even for the year. We were minus one going into Colorado; we need to get that back down. Third downs, we have converted 47 percent and allowed 38 percent; there's a 10 percent swing in there. You can win games that way. We are doing a good job in the fourth quarter. The biggest stat that jumps out with is that we've got 18 sacks this year and only given up three. I believe the 18 sacks lead the nation, but that is not what is important; what is important is that we have already had 18 and last year we only had 22. We played 55 players in the last game, I am happy about that. It was a couple years ago we joked about the "Iron-35" and only had 35 guys playing. Now we're about two deep across the board. I'm very happy about that. When that second defensive line goes in, or when we rotate our tailbacks and rotate the guards there's no drop off in talent. We have a lot of depth at wide receivers and running backs. There's still places where we're thin but we're the deepest we've ever been.
As far as Cal goes, by far the best team we've played to date. Not many weaknesses on that football team. They're returning 18 starters from last year. They have great running backs, two tremendous fast wide receivers. Their quarterback has played well the past two games and their offense line is very good. Defensively, they are deep and they go after you. The front seven, the line backers are very physical. They are less experienced on their secondary but are leading on tackles. We didn't play too well when we went up their two years ago, so it will be a big challenge for us."
On stopping the run, especially tailback Marshawn Lynch...
"He [Lynch] can break tackles, you have to do a great job pursuing him. He can make guys miss tackles and can break them. He has a rare combination of speed and power. He go all the way on every play. You got to get a lot of guys around their and contain him. Our defense has been doing a great job of that lately but did give it up a couple times against Colorado. Our defense can't give up that leverage against Cal."
On the test that ASU's defense will have against California's offense...
"This is a big test. The next three games not only have three of the best offenses in the conference, but also in the country. Cal could be the best. They are loaded at the skill positions and have a very good offensive line. This is going to be a big test for the defense, for any defense that plays Cal."
On execution during games...
"Of all four turnovers during the Colorado game, three were poor decisions. Rudy Carpenter is the man and no question is the leader of the team Rudy's made a living making good decisions, but both interception were totally preventable and totally on Rudy. The play down the goal line; you've got to give Rudy credit. He was trying to reach out for the touchdown, you hit the pylon and it's a touchdown. The official called down for something difference; we got bad luck on that play. There were two or three chances to put that game away a little sooner. We've just got to make better decisions.
Rudy's a perfectionist and he's just got to get back to making better decision."
On quarterback Nate Longshore of California...
"I am not familiar with him. He committed to Cal very early. For Jeff [Tedford] to pick him last year as a starter, he broke his ankle or leg and couldn't play but these last two weeks you could see why Jeff picked him as a starter."
On rotating the ASU running backs:
"We are going to continue having a rotation over a starter. Look at Cal, even with Marshawn Lynch, they're playing three tailbacks a game. We're going to continue to play three or four guys a game. It is hard for a guy to take all hits. Keegan [Herring] will be our starter and [Ryan] Torain will get his share of carries. [Shaun] DeWitty will be primarily used at third down back. All those guys can help our team, as well as Dimitri Nance. Keegan was much more consistent and Torain can hit a hole hard, as can Keegan."
On Zach Miller and his touchdown:
"That was a beautiful catch. I didn't realize how pretty of a catch it was until I saw the film. Zach continues to impress me every week. He has a very solid game. We went to that bunch formation so that we could try to limit the number of players Colorado could stack up in the box, in that formation he blocks like a fullback. The versatility, competitiveness, and toughness he has impressed me every week"
On the wide receivers...
"We talked about four guys at the beginning of the season, [senior] Terry Richardson, [junior] Rudy Burgess, [sophomore] Mike Jones and [senior] Jamaal Lewis. We also had some other guys on a second level. Those other guys, primarily [sophomore] Nate Kimbrough and [freshman] Chris McGaha, have elevated their game. Both started because they are playing the best. Jamaal was suspended, we are now past that. Terry has been a little inconsistent Rudy [Burgess] was hurt last week and missed a lot of practice, but has been very consistent. Mike Jones had his best his best game against Colorado. Now instead of having four guys, we have six and we feel good about all of them."
On defensive end Dexter Davis...
"Dexter continues to get better week in and week out. He is always in position to make plays and gets off those blockers. He is very coachable. He puts the pressure on the quarterback and is in the right spot at the right time. For a redshirt freshman, we are very happy where he is at. He has made it tough for Tranell Morant or Loren Howard to beat him out. That would be great if they could because then we would be that much better."
On California head coach Jeff Tedford...
"After I left the Oregon coaching staff to become head coach at Boise State, Jeff came to Oregon as the offensive coordinator and that's when he and I became friends. We talked a lot about the Oregon offense. We have become pretty good friends, however recruiting battles makes it hard sometimes. We haven't played them for two years and that makes that better. Jeff is heck of a football coach and really good guy. Our offenses are relatively similar."