Emmanuel Franklin on his 100-yard interception for a touchdown: "When I was rushing the passer, I saw the slant coming and I broke up the pass and I remember coach English telling us that they (SDSU) will go with the slant on the goal line. I felt it coming, I stepped right in front of it and ran as fast as I could. At the 40-50 yard line I was so tired I thought I was going to die so I opened my stride a little longer. I was glad that there was no one but my teammates around me. (smile)" He added: "Are the jitters over now? Well, next week we have our first Pac-10 game. The first away game for us is at the Rose Bowl so that's pretty big. But I think some of the first game butterflies are over with right now. A lot of people dissed us and called us young and inexperienced. I think we answered the call somewhat but we have to play a lot better week after week if we really want to prove ourselves."
Daryl Lightfoot was another player making his debut this season. How did he feel after his first game: "It's pretty exciting right now. I didn't expect to play with my jaw wired and stuff. I battled through it and I played as hard as I could once I stepped on the field. It was decided I was going to play during the week based on how I felt. I had issues where I couldn't breathe because of my jaw and I wasn't sure how many plays I was gonna be in at a time. I talked to coach Koetter and he told me that they needed me this week but he wasn't gonna force me to play if I didn't want to. When it came to game time, I knew I was going to strap it on and be on the field."
"My first college game was everything I thought it was going to be. The speed of the game was what I thought it was going to be. I was nervous playing in front of 50,000 people. It's way different than the 500 you see during high school games, but after I made my first catch, the jitters were out and I played on my momentum. I did like running the reverse play a lot. A lot of the plays that I was supposed to be in they didn't play me because of my jaw. They didn't know how long I was gonna be able to go. They tried to utilize me in play where I would be able to quick hit and get out."
Special Teams coach Tom Osborne was one of the only ASU personnel who wasn't pleased one bit at what he saw from the team last Saturday: "We've got a long way to go on special teams. No question. We knew that coming in because you can't practice most of the stuff full speed. I think as the game went on, some of the guys got a feel for the tempo of the game. It's a whole different deal when you go live. It's typical for this to happen early in the season, and it takes a while to figure out who can do certain things in live situations and how to get guys in spots that can help us the most. Some guys did a good job and some guys didn't. I know it sounds like a coach's cliché but even after you win a game there is a thousand things that you need to fix. A big factor contributing to the bad special teams play was our punt return team. It never allowed us to get the return started. We got some new young guys out there on the corner positions and that's the hardest position to play in football. That's why in the NFL they double them all of the time. That's hard to do and there's a lot of space between the returner and the rest of the coverage team. We weren't able to get anything going there. Without watching any tape that's what sticks in my mind the most. Our first kickoff return we ran it back for 51 yards so that was a good start, but as far as areas to improve, you could write a list as long as my master's thesis. That's the fun part of coaching I guess. I took out Shaun after he dropped the ball and that was an easy decision. He dropped the ball a lot the last two weeks and we're gonna lose games if the ball is on the ground. I won't put Lightfoot back there either-he drops the ball. I'll put an offensive linesman back there if he doesn't drop the ball. Again, we won't win games if we drop the ball.
Linebacker Mason Unck may be a junior, but he was wide eyed as a freshman after his first game of the season: "Wow it was a lot of fun! Everybody came out hitting and everybody believed in each other, which is key I thought. This is my first game starting since my injury and my first game where I really felt like I could move around. I was really feeling good out there. I really wasn't sure the last few weeks if I was gonna become the starter because during practice we rotate a lot. We just out hit San Diego State. We were really ready to play mentally. We had 28-30 practices and that's a lot for one team. We had a hunger- we were sick of hitting each other and we were able to take it out on somebody. I can't wait to play UCLA they are really good, they are really exciting to watch so it should be a really fun game. Coach Snow (the ex-Sun Devil defensive coordinator who is now UCLA's one) is a great coordinator, he knows the personnel, and I know he is going to be prepared for us so we have to be prepared on our end as well."
Fullback Mike Karney was an integral part of the old ASU offensive scheme, which featured a lot of power running. With Koetter's arrival, the sophomore was apprehensive that he would be the forgotten man in the first year's head coach arial attack. Well. So far 2001 has started on the right foot for the fullback who got to score his first career ASU touchdown. Ironically, it was a receiving touchdown. "Having my first touchdown of my career be the first of the game and of the season is pretty sweet. I couldn't ask for a better situation. I'm not gonna a lie to you, it took me a while to be convinced that I could be part of this offense. When camp started, I saw how I could fit in and the coach saw what kind of player I am. It's a great situation right now for me. I have more fun blocking for a run, than catching a pass for a touchdown. Players need someone to block for them when they're running for a touchdown."
Safety Willie Daniel had these thoughts to offer: "I thought we played very well. That was a great way to set the tone for the season. I think we came out and hit on all cylinders and really clicked. We did a good job studying for them, and the coaching staff did a great job calling the right plays for us, and putting us in the right position. It's a safety-loving defense, it's fun! We just run around, we play zone, we play run, and we get an opportunity to make big plays. We have to take care of business on the road against UCLA. We need redemption after we gave them the game last year."
Several ASU recruits were at the game standing on the ASU sidelines. One of them was local product Linebacker Mike Talbot who verbaled last month to the Devils. The highest profile recruit was another local product – Sunnyslope phenom quarterback Mike Nixon. Nixon was fresh over his first win of the season where he defeated powerhouse Chaparral, and earned raving reviews in the process. He's was coy as far as whom his leader is right now in the recruiting war. Interesting enough, his high school claims that he doesn't think Nixon would be a good QB in College, and probably would do better at safety.
Other recruits were Nick Johnson the defensive linemen from Chandler HS who is heavily leaning towards the Devils, who are in need for his position. DB Willis Morisson, who was featured in a previous premium story, was also in attendance and was very pleased with his ASU visit. The Devils are in the lead for him as well too. DL Nick Masoing who was academically ineligible when he verbaled to ASU two years ago, is doing well at Phoenix College, and chances are he'll wear the maroon and gold. Remember ex-Sun Devil WR Kenny Mitchell? His younger brother, also from Peoria HS, RB Kelly Mitchell was roaming the sidelines at SDS.
On a side note, I deeply apologize for this article coming out a day later than I intended. As I mentioned on the message board earlier, I planned to publish all the material following the game, but with my Internet being down I was just behind the "eight ball" all weekend. Again, although the circumstances were beyond my control I do apologize and thank you for your gracious patience!
FORK THE BRUINS!!!
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