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October 24, 2006Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter met with members of the media during his weekly press conference Monday to discuss the Stanford win, this week's upcoming game against Washington and the current state of the team and its injuries. Here is a look at what he had to say.
On what Rudy Burgess has done for the team and how rare it is:
"I would say that there are probably some guys who could do it and I'm sure every major college team has a guy that is versatile like Rudy. But I doubt if many guys would do it. Rudy has just really been unselfish throughout his career and doing whatever we needed him to do."
On whether he remembers how Burgess well played on defense:
"I do not, I really do not. I'm sure he was (good). His high school, they ran kind of a version of the fly sweep and I remember him making a lot of plays as the sweeper is the main thing I remember about him in high school."
On whether Burgess will play both ways:
"Right now we just need him at corner, not that I don't think he can't play both ways. I know he can play both ways but he hasn't been practicing at corner so he's got a lot of catching up to do from a learning curve standpoint. There is no doubt that he can handle some plays on offense but he needed to spend all his time practicing on defense last week. Part of the deal I made with Rudy when I asked him to move is I told him that we would start him as long as he could handle everything. Rudy played some 30-some snaps at corner last week and I would never rule out a return to some offense at some point, but we just need him to concentrate on defense right now."
On Washington's play with backup quarterback Carl Bonnell taking over for an injured Isaiah Stanback last week:
"I haven't really watched much of their offense but Stanback was having a terrific year (at quarterback), possibly an MVP-type year in the Pac-10 until he got hurt. I haven't had a chance to look at [the Cal game], I just watched a few plays of their offense. Bonnell threw five [interceptions in the game], but they said he actually played pretty well. He was very mobile. They ran their same offense His percentage was good, his yardage was good and they took California into overtime our defensive coaches said they really didn't change what they were doing that much."
On Washington's improvement:
"They are getting better and well, I think the hardest thing to judge is Stanback was having a terrific year and how much are they going to miss him. I don't know if you can tell that from one game although they were right there with a chance to win (versus Cal). I think in Tyrone's second year, obviously more of his own guys and more guys on board with his philosophy. They're not making many mistakes and they're not turning the ball over very much but when you look at it, I think that primarily goes back to Stanback. They do have some other good skill players. They have a physical, good offensive line. On defense, I think their secondary is solid and their one linebacker, [Scott White], No. 4 is having an exceptional year, second in the league in interceptions. He is just making a lot of plays off the edge and then they had some success early. Anytime your team is improving, having success helps build your confidence. They have had a little bit of a rough stretch here where they have lost their last three. But I have heard coach Willingham talk for a couple weeks and they're hungry to get that sixth win and get back to being a bowl eligible team, but hopefully it doesn't happen this week."
On setting parameters for Rudy Carpenter on his scrambles:
"I coach Rudy to get down. I coach Rudy to get vertical, get what he can and get down. He doesn't listen to me all the time on that. Rudy's not a big guy. Even though he's gained 15 pounds or so since he's been here, Rudy's body compared to the guys trying to rip him apart isn't a good matchup. I want Rudy to take less hits all the time but Rudy makes a lot of positive plays. When he's making quick decisions and when he pulls it down and goes north and south, Rudy's capable, just like in the USC game he had a 40-yard run and he had two or three nice runs the other day. It's just like, you're only going to get what you're going to get and there is no use taking those hits on the back end. It's better to just get down and save the hit.
On opening up the offense after Stanford:
"This isn't last year, that's the thing. We just have a different make up of our team right now. I have always been very comfortable with opening up the offense. That's never been a problem for me. But I also think that we have to be smart and opening up the offense can also lead to turnovers and the best thing we did is not turn the ball over. I think the two best things we have done the last two weeks on defense is cut down the number of big plays we're given up and on offense we've cut down the number of times turning the ball over. We are back to zero straight even on turnover margin on the year. Two weeks ago we were minus-4 on the season. There is a fine line that has to be walked between adding more -- with opening the offense comes more risk. The other thing is we're playing with a beat up offensive line with new offense tackles in there. So part of that is protection oriented as well, and we're also doing a good job running the ball and we have to build around what we're doing well. We have to cut down on the things that have hurt us and changed games. There were a lot of times in that Stanford game where I found myself wanting to throw it deep, but yet what we were doing was working pretty well. We scored on six of our first eight possessions."
On the offense giving the defense a better chance to limit the opponent:
"When you control the ball as much as we did in the first half, and you score six of your first eight possessions, and the other two were in the red zone with a red zone punt that is giving your defense a chance. You know not turning the ball over, holding on to it and scoring when you get a chance, that gives your defense a chance. If we can do that every week we'll be right there and if we do that every game we'll have a chance to win every one of them."
On the possibility of playing in colder weather versus Washington:
"Define cold? Lower than 80 (degrees)? I think it's going to be very comparable to Colorado and we played fine in the weather. In fact, I think the players enjoyed it."
On Ryan Torain and his depth chart progress from camp:
"I'm not really sure where he was at Tontozona but I think by the time we got to the season he worked his way up. We kind of had three guys in mind: Keegan was starting, Torain was coming in to spell Keegan, and DeWitty was the third down back. Now, Dewitty has been out the last two weeks so it's been pretty much been a two-man game and it's just been better for us to have Torian be the feature back and a power back, and use Keegan as a change of pace. Keegan has also played more in the third down situations these last two games. I mean I purposely sat down Torain down in the second half because I didn't want him to take any more hits after the game was in hand I thought. We do have good depth at tailback even through DeWitty sat out again if we just gave it to Dimitri Nance 20 times I think he would make 100 yards for us. He is an excellent runner, excellent cut back runner, still has some things to improve on, like pass blocking. I'm real please with the way Keegan has accepted his role on the team. He has played on a couple special teams. On kick-off coverage he is the first man down. Keegan is not getting as many caries as he would like but he is one of the leaders on the team. A real emotional guy, he gets the other guys hyped up and I just think you can see the difference between having a 215 pound back in Torian and a 190 pound back in Keegan even though that 190 is solid. In that Stanford game Keegan was getting into that secondary and when their two safeties were good tacklers he would have an 8-yard gain. And Torain would have an 8-yard gain and it would turn into a 15 yard game."
On the situation at linebacker:
"As a group they're doing pretty well. [Defensive coordinator Bill Miller] is matching them up on personnel. We're rotating six guys. Now, [Gerald Munns] only played two plays because he has a shore shoulder from the USC game. But Mike Nixon of course because he can play all the positions and is kind of the wild card. Right now it's kind of Nixon and Munns at SAM, Beau Manutai and Robert James at MIKE, Travis Goethel and Derron Ware at WILL. And Bill is matching them up based on personnel whether it's a nickel group or a 4-3 group, run down/pass down type thing. We had two guys primarily making all the plays. Now all those guys are averaging between 25-35 plays a game. I think Nixon had the high at 40 and all those guys were in the 20s. Beau Manutai is the guy in the middle in the run game doing a nice job. Goethel is excellent against the run. Derron Ware is better in the pass game and a playmaker and gives us a speed rusher of the edge. Robert James made a couple of big plays in the game. Nixon is just very solid made a turnover, one of the smartest guys out there. As a group real, real happy. You remember last year, even though Dale and Jamar made a lot of plays those guys really got beat down and wore down and tired as the season went on. So much so that Dale really faded the last couple of games partly due to injuries."
On the play of special teams and Chris McGaha in particular:
"Special teams in general was pretty much a non-factor in this game. There were seven kickoffs and Jessie kicked four of them out of the end zone. We only got two kickoff returns and to open the game they pouched it on us and McGaha made a real nice return and returned it to the 40-yard line and then the second time they went with that surprise onside kick and they couldn't really have had executed it any better, that was a great job by them. And in punt return, their punter sprayed the ball over the field. I thought we blocked our punt returns very well, but we were calling our returns to the right or left and it seemed like every time we called it one way he kicked it to the other. They had like a double gunner set and he tried to kick it to the gunner and I think he only kicked it there like two of the eight where he was supposed to kick 'em and our punt team only had one play the whole game. .. I see McGaha in practice every day. He's probably not as electrifying as Terry, but Chris is very solid. He will always catch it and he breaks a lot more tackles than you think and in practice he does a really nice job. We'll use Rudy as our primary kickoff return guy with McGaha back there. We're trying to get Rudy's hands on the ball."
On the team's 10 penalties:
"I'm telling them not to get them. You know both ourselves and Stanford had 10 penalties each and so about a thousand people have asked me what the deal is with the penalties and I wish we had none but we had the same number as Stanford. Right now there are six teams in the Pac-10 that have between 56 and 68 yards a game in penalties and we are one of those teams. Of those penalties that happened -- three right in a row by our defense right before the half. One of those was a very bad decision by Derron Ware and he didn't hit the quarterback hard but he did hit him late and that will always get called every time. I showed that play to the whole team in the team meeting yesterday like I do every time we have penalties like that to let them know that that kind of stuff is not acceptable. The other two penalties they called, the guard's helmet came off on that one and they said Marquardt hit him in the face mask and knocked his helmet off; very unusual for that to be called against a defensive linemen. And they called Jordan Hill for defensive holding against an offensive guard. If you watch those films closely you can probably call holding on the offense 99 plays out of 100 and holding on the defense 1 play out of 100 and we got called for it. Penalties are not good. Julius Orieukwu had three false starts. He was very nervous. We practice against the crowd noise every week and were certainly need to cut down on penalties. Aggressive penalties are going to happen, but stupid penalties are going to get your beat eventually and we did have a couple stupid ones.
On the injury status of several players:
Chris Baloney -- "We're supposed to find out today He had a bone scan on Friday and we're supposed to get those results back today, I have not talked to the doctor yet."
Shaun DeWitty -- "DeWitty also had a bone scan on Friday and they did get the results back on that and they can't really find -- he had both an MRI and a bone scan -- and they can't really find what the problem is in his back. I think they're going to treat it more aggressively this week. I talked to Shaun yesterday and I think we're going to try to get him back. We'll know the next couple days in practice. Some players are off today. I hope we can get him back out there."
Zach Catanese -- "Catanese will be fine. He had a slight concussion but he will be good to go."
Brandon Rodd -- "Brandon Rodd did some light running with the team yesterday nursing that hamstring and we're hopeful to get him back but he'll be day-to-day."
Terry Richardson --"Terry is very doubtful for this week but the good news is that the MRI showed no tear, nothing that needed surgery. He is already off crutches, he was in a brace yesterday he just needs to get his strength back. Terry had a similar injury here a year ago and played with it but I would have to say he is doubtful for this week."