Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ASU: Dennis Erickson Quotes From This Week's Press Conference

On his feelings about the team heading into the final five games:

"I like where we're at. Anytime you play seven games and win them, it's a pretty good position to be in. Obviously, as we all knew going into the season, we'd have a chance to get to 7-0, because we knew the last five games were going to be a very difficult stretch, starting with Cal this week. I like where we're at. Obviously, injury-wise, we've had some serious injuries that have affected us a little bit, although we've played well. Ryan [Torain], of course, missing him for the year hurts us, but he's been gone in a couple other games, and Keegan has stepped up and done a nice job. With Brent Miller, hopefully we'll have him back in the next week or two. I like where we're at. We've improved. I guess you say it every week, but this is obviously the toughest game that we've had by far. So it will be interesting to see where we're at. We got healthy and rested up a little bit. Sometimes that helps; sometimes it doesn't."


On the national rankings:

"I really don't know. I don't know if we have worried about that around here for awhile. I really don't pay attention to them. Obviously you see them and our players see them. We're seventh here and fourth here, I can't ever figure out all that. In all seriousness, for us, what happens this week and the week after that and the week after that and the week after that, the next five games are going to tell where we end up. I'm happy we're 7-0. I'm happy that we're recognized. As we started out the year, I told our players we just have to get to 1-0, then we have to get 2-0, and that's all we've ever focused on here. That's all we're focusing on now, to try to win our eighth game somehow and then go ahead and go from there."


On Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance:

"You've seen Keegan. He brings you the explosiveness to take it to the house anytime. He's a little bit different. He's got great speed and quickness. He comes out of stuff that you wouldn't think a back could come out of. Dimitri, on the other hand, is somewhat similar to Ryan [Torain], obviously not as big or as tall, but he's more of a physical runner with great feet. He's got great vision. I've felt he's had great vision since the spring. They're different, kind of like Keegan and Ryan had been. Jarrell Woods is going to have to step up for us. He's finally healthy. Hopefully he can bring some things to the table for us. He hasn't had an opportunity to play because he's been injured. He can help us through these last five football games."


On the difficulty of the next four games:

"I've never been around a stretch like that, but I knew that going into the season. You look at where you're at going in to start out with, and you look at the last five games on the schedule, we knew what we were getting into and we knew how the schedule was. That's not going to change. That won't change at all. That was just the nature of the schedule. We all talked about having five games at home in our first seven. It was a pretty darn good deal, and now I'm not sure as I go into the next one. We're going to get tested. Our team knows that. We're very realistic about where we're at and the direction that we're trying to go in. We're playing who I think is one of the best teams in the country. Even though they've lost a couple games, didn't have [QB Nate] Longshore for one, but tape doesn't lie. When you put tape on and you watch opponents, you have a pretty darn good idea who they are. Tape doesn't lie on California. They're an extremely good football team, and obviously they can't afford to lose another game in the league if they want to have any opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl. So we're going to have play pretty good, I'm afraid."


On Cal's offense:

"They've got a great receiver, their quarterback can throw it and they've got a great running back, which means we have to stop it all. DeSean Jackson is one of the most explosive players I've ever seen in college football, not just as a receiver but also in the return game. He creates a lot of problems. You've got to be aware of where he's at all the time. He's a guy that just can break a game open any time. He's a real key, but they've got a lot of weapons. [Nate] Longshore will be back, he was back but now he is back 100 percent. His ankle was bothering him, as you could tell if you watched the game. He's an experienced guy that creates a lot of problems for you, and then, [Justin] Forsett, obviously at running back. Maybe something that goes unsaid is their offensive line, a very dominant group. Their center [Alex Mack] is really a good player, one of the better centers I've seen. Jimmy Michalczik coaches the offensive line. Jimmy played for me at Washington State and coached for me at Oregon State, and he does a great job of coaching. They all do, obviously Jeff [Tedford] has proven himself time and time again. That's what fun about this. Their offensive front is really good."


On Cal's defense:

"They're very physical. Their front seven is very physical. Their middle linebacker, [Worrell] Williams, is an outstanding football player. They play really well. They're a very physical team. They're going to play eight-man front a lot of the time to take the running game. That's just a principle of their defense. Coach [Bob] Gregory does a nice job with their defense. He was at Oregon. I've faced his philosophy before. They're going to come up and stop the run, and then force you to throw it, and they're good in the secondary. So, it's going to be a real challenge for us offensively. Obviously, we've got to be able to run. If we can't run it, we've got some problems to keep them off balance. Hopefully, we can make some plays in the passing game. That's going to be a real key to having some success against them."


On missing Ryan Torain's ability to punish and wear down opposing defenses:

"I guess you can take the Washington State game, for example. We weren't playing real well as a group, all of a sudden he took the game over, and in the fourth quarter there, he ended up punishing them pretty good. He's a guy that gets better as the game went on, but I believe we can do that with our other backs too. We're going to miss him, but there's not anything we can do about that. That's just part of football, you lose guys, whether it's college or high school or the National Football League, and you've got to replace them. That's why you hope you have 105 guys on scholarship that can help you, and I believe we do, and that's how our team has approached that all year. I think Dimitri will surprise you. He does some awfully good things."


On having many players who have made big plays through the season:

"We talk about making plays. Making plays is what it's all about, whether it's a catch or a run or an interception or a sack. Teams that make plays win football games, particularly when the game is on the line. We talk about making plays all the time. With what we do offensively and defensively, it's not just one guy. It could be a number of guys, depending on what they're doing to you. Obviously, Troy Nolan has made some plays for us on defense. Robert James has made some plays. Michael Jones has made some plays. Chris McGaha has made some plays. Rudy [Carpenter] has made some plays, so if you have a lot of guys that can step up depending on what's going on, it can make a big difference."


On WR Mike Jones playing this week:

"He practiced last night. He had the concussion, but he's got the OK to go ahead and go tomorrow."


On when TE Brent Miller will return:

"I wish I had the total answer. To me, it's the old day-by-day statement that we all make when we don't know what's going on. He was around yesterday, worked out in the pool and ran last night, and did some pretty good things. Whether he'll be cleared to go on Saturday, I don't know. I would say for sure the week after that he would be ready to go."


On coming off a bye week:

"We try to get back to our regular schedule. We take the bye week, always have, as a time to take our young players and get them some turns, do the same thing that we do in spring football. They would get most of the turns, although the first and second group would get turns, just so they would keep their timing, which is what we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, Thursday, we worked a little bit on Cal. Then we brought them back on Sunday, which we usually don't do, and practiced. Normally, we just bring them in and run after a game on Saturday night, but because of the bye week, we brought them in last night and we practiced for about an hour and 20 minutes. Then, today is just a normal day off, and then tomorrow just like a regular week."


On whether his teams usually do well after bye weeks:

"Some have, some haven't. When you've been doing it as many years as I have, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I know one thing, you're healthier and you've got a little bit more energy. Some say, timing, did you lose your timing during the week? If you've been going for seven weeks and playing seven games like we have, I think you have less of a chance of that happening. If you had the bye maybe after the third or fourth week, it would be maybe a little bit different. But if you can make it to the seventh week or through the seventh week and have a bye, it's a pretty good time to have it. Sometimes it helps you, sometimes it doesn't. I'm sure we all can answer that question Saturday night about 11:30 or 11, whenever the heck the game ends."


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