"We said that we needed to play a game, and that's certainly bore out to be true," Koetter said in his opening statement. "We did some good things, some not good things…I'm sure that film session tomorrow (Sunday) will be quite animated, and we'll have plenty corrections to make." Nevertheless, he did tip his hat to the visitors from Flagstaff. "NAU really competed hard…those guys played well."
The ASU skipper was appreciative of the 60,000 plus maroon and gold faithful that came out to Sun Devil stadium. "Great job by our crowd tonight, especially the student section – that was awesome. I hope they will hang in there with us because we will get a lot better. And that part is on me. We will get better and get after Utah State next week."
Koetter also complemented receiver Moey Mutz who led his teammates in receiving yards, and scored twice. While the Sun Devil coach was happy that Mutz stepped up, there were other aspects of the passing game that were much less pleasing. "I was disappointed that we had four drops," Koetter said. "When you're throwing the ball 50% of the time on first down, and three of those four drops are on 1st and 10 - that's tough."
Quarterback Andrew Walter passed for four touchdowns and no interceptions. Naturally, his head coach was content with that performance. "I thought Andrew was sharp on his throws," Koetter exclaimed. "But we can't give up those easy completions. He's not superman, he needs to have some help around him. I really thought he made only two mistakes all night just as far as where he went with the ball. The sack wasn't anything that Andrew did wrong. He's gonna play better than that but he was fine."
The running game is one team aspect that coaches and fans are yearning to improve. Last night against the Lumberjacks, ASU's ball carriers did a fine job in that department. "We didn't get off to a good start in the running game," stated the third year head coach. "I thought Loren (Wade) came in and gave us a little lift. Once again when you have those dropped passes it takes you out of a series. I thought Loren and Randy (Hill) did OK. You have to remember that they're both redshirt freshmen, who played in their first game in front of a crowd like this." Koetter continued and said that Mike Williams sprained his MCL on the last play of the first half. Williams, Mike Karney and four others didn't return the second half.
When the Devils did struggle on the ground, it was due to improper alterations to counter attack the ‘Jacks defense. "NAU played a combinations of unusual fronts," commented Koetter on the visitors' defense against the run. "They blitzed us off the edge a lot, and we didn't adjust to some of it in a timely fashion. Again, I'm not putting that on our players – I'm putting that on myself."
Cornerback R.J. Oliver had a sensational play returning a 100-yard interception for a touchdown. Coach Koetter was thrilled about the play, but joked and said it came with a price. "Awesome play by R.J. He tied a record by his best buddy Emmanuel Franklin... Unfortunately he got a little muscle cramp in his quad, and couldn't come back. Maybe he should go for a 50-yard interception…(smile)"
The mission of this game was for the team to start fast. Despite Koetter trying to drive that point home during the week leading up to the game, that didn't materialize on Saturday night. "I guess I better not go into the preacher business (smile)," quipped the ASU coach. "If I was preaching we sure didn't do it. It wasn't first game jitters – I don't think we had anything to be jittery about. We just didn't get it done. We didn't start fast tonight, and we'll take a look at why it is starting from the coaching standpoint." However, Koetter remained pragmatic at the end result. "The bottom line is that you have to get the win and we did get the win," said Koetter. "The players in our locker room…you thought we had lost the game. It's a great thing that expectations had risen in our program, and no one has higher expectations than we do. But all the nice things that have been written and said about us since the Holiday Bowl…we still have to play between the lines." The ASU coach added that his team was "Fortunate that we can win by three touchdowns the way we played tonight."
Coach Koetter's Post-Game Quotes
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