Inclement Weather Made For a Good Practice

The valley of the sun experienced an unusual downpour of rain on Wednesday. Since the Sun Devils are about to trek this weekend to one of the harshest Pac-10 climates, Coach Koetter actually embraced that weather, and wish it was even stormier than it was.

"It went great," Koetter said about Wednesday's practice. "It was great work for us to practice in that much rain. If we added 30 mph winds, and 30 degrees colder it would be perfect."

In a season full of trials and tribulations morale is naturally affected the most. The ASU coach said that no one, including their opponent, will take the time to dwell over what has transpired in the 2003 season. "Anytime your season or individual game doesn't go as well as expected it's disappointing," exclaimed the Sun Devil skipper. "You start off the week disappointed, and it takes every person a different amount of time to get over that disappointment. But at some point you have to move on and get ready for the next one."

"This week the Cougars sure won't feel sorry for us based on what happened last week," Koetter continued. "You look at the tape, you see an excellent football team and you know that if you don't get ready you'll get your butt kicked. That team is in the midst of a championship race."

Offensively, this season has been characterized with positive spurts mixed in with mental mistakes. Is consistency something that the team is yearning for as the season winds down? "You're always looking for that," said Koetter. "Two weeks ago we were one of four teams in the Pac-10 with a positive turnover ratio. We dropped off the last two weeks because we were minus 3 to 1. That has been the difference in those two games. We got out to such slow starts."

"We've done good things in all phases this year," Koetter continued. "Our offensive line as a unit is playing the best of any unit on our team right now – giving up the second fewest sacks in the Pac-10. We're running the ball OK when the score lets us stay in the running game and our tailbacks are healthy."

As the season winds down the team's goals have become more focused in nature. "All we can do is play the spoiler and try to do the best we can to finish our season," stated Koetter. "Send our seniors out on the right note, and then continue to get better. Our biggest game is coming up here in a couple of weeks."

Nevertheless, Koetter doesn't think that the spoiler role is one that will get overemphasized in the pre-game preparation "I think it's probably different for every person," he said. "I don't know that you can make that (the spoiler role) your battle cry. You either compete or you don't. There's no in between. People that are competitors are gonna play hard against their wife in Monopoly. We have to go more that route."

On the same token, the ASU coach doesn't think that the whole concept of underclassmen playing the last couple of games for the outgoing seniors is an extra source of motivation. "I think that's a part of what would happen in a perfect world," claimed Koetter. "They should play to compete and because they play for Arizona State. Part of that is to send out the seniors out right. Any plea by me or anyone else…there's no one thing that motivates all 115 guys the same way." Koetter added that if this notion did take place it would only truly be sensed on Saturday, and not during the weekday practices.

Speaking of seniors, the Washington State game will an emotional one for Mike Karney, who hails from the evergreen state. Karney will be the gameday captain, as hoards of family and friends watch him from the stands. "He needs a lot of tickets," Koetter quipped. "I don't think there's enough tickets for how many Mike needs…he's a special kid. He's from the state of Washington, and deserves to be a captain. He has two busloads of friends and family going over. Everybody that follows our team sees the Karney entourage with the (number) 44 jerseys on. It has been a cool thing to watch."

Some of the criticism levied on the Sun Devil coaching staff in the last few weeks, centered around the youth and inexperience factor. Koetter vigorously defends his assistants, and credits his success to their abilities. "My guys are my guys. Those guys are the reason I got from where I was at to where I am at now. Those guys were loyal to me and I was loyal to them. A lot has been said about the youth of our staff, and I would say take a look at how old the Oklahoma staff is." He added that choosing younger assistants wasn't done to appeal to recruits, and that any head coach accepting a new job elsewhere would almost always take his assistants with him regardless of their age.

Koetter revealed that wide receiver Terry Richardson is doubtful to make the road trip this weekend. When it comes to the tailback situation, the picture is less than crystal clear. Randy Hill and Cornell Canidate were taking most of the snaps this week in practice. Then again, they may not be listed as the first two ball carriers on the depth chart. "It (the tailback situation) changes every hour. Stay tuned (smile)…I haven't talked to Loren today (about his concussion test). Hakim practiced yesterday very well. I gave him little chance on Tuesday of making the trip. (yesterday)You wouldn't be able to tell that he was ever hurt, and that was on a wet field. It's been a crazy week with the tailbacks. We'll see what happens today in practice. I would imagine we'll need all of them."

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