Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter met with reporters Monday for his weekly press conference to talk about the difficult game against Oregon State, the injury status of his team and the upcoming home contest with Washington State. Here are his quotes:
On the decision to defer when winning the coin toss:
"The strategy of deferring the coin toss would be when weather is an issue, to try to take advantage of the wind. Wind is easily the main factor and the fact that our defense has been playing good, to put our defense out on the field first and try to take advantage of whatever field position the defense can give you. When the other team takes the ball and goes on a 12-play 84-yard drive for a touchdown that makes that strategy backfire on you, but that's certainly not the odds. When an offense has to go 84 yards the percentages are definitely against them."
"…It's just that time of year for everybody. It's a very physical game and guys are beat up and we're no exception to that. Now, that's magnified by the fact that we've had a couple bad injuries in the last couple of weeks. It's one thing to be banged up but when you lose Stephen Berg and Nate Kimbrough in back-to-back weeks with torn ACLs when they're not even on contact plays, they're just on plant plays and they tear their ACLs, that takes a little bit out of everybody. The players see that and that's not fun and not great for those guys. What that does to you in practice is every time you lose a guy that puts more stress on the other guys at that position to take more reps in practice. When you get to this time of year you obviously have more film to watch, 'cause you have all these games and all these situations you would like to cover but yet your team in nicked up a little bit. We're averaging 53 guys a game who are playing in the game and so, every time you lose a guy or two you're asking those guys to do a little bit more in practice. So the balancing act is their bodies holding up on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so they can be healthy enough to go on Saturday. And you have some players, here we call it an orange jersey, where they can't have contact all week but yet there going to try to play on Saturday. We've tried to cut practice down, we've probably cut back about 15-20 minutes over the last three week from a two hour and twenty minute practice to about a two hour practice but when you really practice three days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, that is a constant battle."
On Ryan Torain's injury status:
"Ryan has an ankle sprain and the good news is it is an "old school" ankle sprain, not the dreaded high ankle sprain that definitely keeps guys out longer like Rudy Burgess, and I guess [the Washington State] receivers both have high ankle sprains as well."
On Julius Orieukwu's performance:
"He did OK. He has been in a right handed stance his whole career in high school and also here until this year. Julius had actually approached me a couple weeks back when we moved Steve Berg out to right tackle when Carnahan got hurt and he wanted to move back to right tackle but I just told him that I felt this was a better move for us to at the time to move Steve out there. But I think if you ask Julius, he prefers to play on the right side."
On Brandon Rodd's performance:
"He did OK. I know he's still bothered by that hamstring. Brandon did a good job and he's a veteran enough player … he got beat a couple of times when it looked like maybe he was afraid to push off on that thing. Any player coming back from an injury still goes through that confidence factor of really cutting it loose on that injury. That showed up on maybe two plays, but for the most part Brandon did a pretty good job."
On Washington State's ever-changing defensive alignment:
"It looks like the last two weeks they've done a lot more 3-4. Washington State has traditionally been a 4-3 quarters team, and they've been very good at it over the years. I didn't know they were mixing that much earlier in the year, but as I've gone through the film I see that going back early into the season, they would go in an out of it, primarily play in the 4-3 but then jump into the 3-4 … In the Oregon game, they lost two D-tackles back-to-back, and since that time they've played a lot more 3-4. In fact against Arizona last week, there might not have been more than three or four plays that they were in 4-3. The week before against UCLA, they were primarily in 3-4, but they played very well that game. They gave UCLA fits and beat them in the Rose Bowl. Not knowing the status of their D-tackles … in their mind, they'd like to be able to mix both, and that's what they did against teams like Cal this year, and Oregon State. It makes you prepare both ways and change your blocking schemes a little bit."
On the status of Mike Jones:
A: "Mike Jones, what they're calling it is a bruised ribs type of thing, which is a very painful injury. Mike was in a lot of pain when he tried to come back and play in the second half and he did play in the second half. I fully expect Mike to be OK by Saturday, but he will be fairly limited as far as having contact during the week."
On learning from what Arizona did last Saturday against Washington State:
"Arizona did a nice job against Washington. Arizona had a nice plan for them … Arizona controlled the clock, they got the lead and controlled the clock. They were able to get into third-and-shorts, and they did a really nice job of converting on third down. That running back, Henry ran hard, so you gotta tip your hat to Arizona. They did a nice job of controlling the ball and controlling third downs.
"At this time of year where we have all ten of their games, we're going to take things from all of those game tapes that we'll try to incorporate into our gameplan, but then the key point is, those ideas are all great on paper and how other teams did it, but then you have to make them fit the players you have available, which I'm not even sure with some positions; especially wide receivers, I'm just not sure what we're going to have available, I mean I may not know more until tomorrow. I'm pretty sure what we're going to have at o-line and tight end and running back and quarterback, but wide receiver is just a little bit of a question mark for us right now. You know how much three wide do we do, how much two wide, that's what we'll be deciding over the next 24-to-48 hours."
On penalities decreasing versus Oregon State:
"I think an interesting stat -- and stats are just that, they're interesting and I think you can spin stats to mean whatever you want -- is that even though we're the most penalized team in the league, when teams play us, they're the most penalized against us too. I have no idea why that is, I just don't know. We did have less penalties but we had a lot of penalties two weeks before and we won, and we had fewer penalties last week and we lost. So I don't know."
On the difficulty of suspending Jamaal Lewis, considering the situation at WR:
"In the case of Jamaal Lewis sometimes you just have to take action for not only the good of that player, individually, even though he might not think it's for his own good at the time, but also for the good of the team. On decisions like that, you can't ever look at it as winning or losing for the team. If you do that, you'll be inconsistent and you'll alienate all your … I really didn't suspend Jamaal, I just gave Jamaal some time to get some done some things that he needs to get done. He needs to have his attention on some other areas of his life right now. That's very open-ended, and as soon as he can get his affairs in order, he'll be back."
On Rudy Carpenter and fighting through the ups and downs, helping bring guys along:
"Well, that's part of playing quarterback at any level. Rudy is a great teammate in that sense; he's really good at playing the role of teacher and trying to bring guys along. A couple years back when Andrew Walter was our quarterback, Andrew did not have a lot of patience for guys who were not on the same page as him. I'm not saying that's good or bad, it's just different personality types and Andrew is going pretty well for himself right now. Rudy is a patient guy who tries to help 'em, but I'm sure it's frustrating at times. If you just look at the raw numbers from Rudy on Saturday they don't look good, but when we did the film yesterday we counted him at eight drops (by recievers). We had more drops than we had completions almost and the quarterback can only do what he can do, he can't catch them for them."
On Shawn DeWitty:
It was great to have him back and have him available. He did a nice job on blitz pickup situations … We've been saying all year this is the deepest at tailback we've ever been and for the most part we've been able to keep those guys healthy. How many years has it been since we've played nine games and not missed anybody due to injury. We missed Dewitty a few games with his back but technically he's our third back. So to have Torain and Keegan who've been steady and I'd love to get Dimitri Nance more touches and Dewitty, his role has evolved into being a third down back."