Nov. 5, 2013
I want to say how deeply saddened we are as a program. Matt and Shawn Asiata, two of our players who played for us, lost their father a few days back in a tragic accident. I went to the funeral today. Our thoughts and prayers are with Matt, Shawn and the whole Asiata family. It was just a horrible thing.
A little sidebar to the game on Saturday. We're having a 'Salute America' theme for the game, and we're going to be wearing different drum-and-feather decals on the side of the helmet and honoring the servicemen of the country and the veterans as well. At halftime, the band will have a presentation to honor the servicemen as well. So that's going on in addition to the normal activities of the game.
Arizona State is a tremendous football team. Talented. 'Complete team' was the term I used last week. They're very good on offense, second only to Oregon as far as total yards, points per game and second only to USC in total defense. There really is no weakness. They've got a lot of things going for them. They're playing very well right now. They're in first place in the [Pac-12] South, and they are a very hot team right now. They're coming into Rice-Eccles, which is a positive for us. We've got them at home, but it's going to take our best effort in the game this weekend.
On Arizona State's offense:
Well, I think they're so balanced. They do an exceptional job running and throwing the football. Taylor Kelley, their quarterback, is a great decision-maker. He has done a nice job with the read-zone aspect of their offense. He throws the ball very efficiently. Marion Grice, the running back, is a talent. They've got a lot going for them on offense and they're doing everything well. There really is no weakness right now. They're throwing the ball, they're running the ball, they're doing everything to a high degree of efficiency on offense.
I think we've got to keep the run game under control, which is what we didn't do against Arizona. Ka'Deem Carey had a field day against us, and so we've got to make sure we make it very tough sledding for the run and then try to make some plays in the back end. Our pass defense has been really pretty darn good this year with the exception of not being able to come away with interceptions. We have an efficiency rating which is down in the line in the league, but if we added three or four, just the normal amount of interceptions, the bare minimum amount of interceptions, then we'd be really good in pass coverage. We haven't done that, and so that's really a moot point, but the coverage aspect itself has been pretty good. Bottom line, we have to take away the run, and be sound in coverage, not give up the big play.
On two-straight losses to ASU:
Last year we clearly were flat, not ready to play our best game, and they took it to us down in Tempe. The year before was really close. I think it was 14-13 with a couple minutes left in the third quarter. We had three turnovers in succession, which let the game get away from us. They're good personnel-wise. Coach Graham did a great job with the personnel, but he was left with a great deal of personnel. Coach Erickson had done a good job recruiting there, and Coach Graham has maximized that talent.
On playing at home:
We have not handled the road very well. We really like playing in front of our home crowd at Rice-Eccles. We've got a great crowd, and they give our team a great deal of support. With MUSS in our corner at home has been a big boost for us. We've got to find a way, in the future, play better on the road, because we have not done that.
On Travis Wilson's hand:
Should be good to go. The bye week comes at a very good time for Travis and for a lot of our guys for that matter. We've got a lot of guys that are healed up and hopefully that they're ready to go this week, and so that should be behind us. We're hoping that Travis is now 100 percent completely free from the effects of that injury.
On the last win against Stanford:
It seems like it's been an eternity. It's only been a couple weeks, and it's hard to believe. I guess with a bye week, it's been three weeks now on the calendar, but just a couple games ago. We knew we played a good football game, and then got our quarterback hurt the first quarter of the next game and just proceeded to not play very well across the board in those next two games, although we played very well defensively last week. I shouldn't say we didn't play very well, because last week defensively was a great effort.
In our four losses in the Pac-12, we've had 15 turnovers. That can't happen. The league is too good to hope to win if you're going to turn the ball over at that rate, particularly when we're not getting a great deal of takeaways on defense. If we can move the chains and protect the football like we did against Stanford, then I think we've got a very good chance.
On Arizona State's defense:
They're a quarters team. Split safety look in the secondary. They've got some real good players. [Will] Sutton, the defensive lineman, is their premiere guy. Carl Bradford is a tremendous player. They've got Alden Darby, so they've got very good personnel.
They're very well coached on defense. Technique and fundamentally, they're very sound, and then their safeties are very aggressive. They'll come downhill in the run game and hit you in the mouth. They're very quick to diagnose the run with the safety group, and the corners are skilled cover guys. For their scheme, they have all of the parts in place to make that an effective scheme, and it all starts with Sutton. Will Sutton's the lynchpin of the whole thing, of the whole defense.
On the play calling:
We've got to be more creative, without a doubt, but, the entire offense and the complete autonomy rests with Dennis Erickson. He's got complete control of the offense. As you mention, I'm a defensive guy. I'm certainly aware of what's going on with the offense, and certainly have input as far as what I see from my vantage point. But make no mistake, the offense is completely in the hands of Dennis and Brian [Johnson] at his side. That's what they're paid to do, is to get the offensive going.
On Kelvin York:
[Touches] are a product of how you practiced during the week. Some of the weeks that he hasn't seen as many touches, he's nicked up a little bit in the couple of the weeks where he wasn't healthy, a couple of the other weeks didn't play as well in practice as we thought he needed to. As of last game and the week leading into it and what he did in the game was very productive and so yes, he should get more touches this game than what he's been getting.