As usual Koetter started by thanking the fans, which were very loud. "I don't how many of them were there, but they did a great job. Our players fed off their emotion. We played with the most enthusiasm so far this year. Even when we made mistakes, we made them full speed." The first year coach characterized the victory as being "A much needed win. When everybody contributes to a win like this, it makes for a very positive locker room. This win was in direct correlation to the best week of practice we ever had this season. It's nice for the players to see that everything we teach them along with their hard work, is finally paying off."
Delvon Flowers who had 226 yards rushing and two touchdowns last game, was named by Koetter as captain for the Washington game. Al Williams who had eight tackles was named Pac-10 defensive player of the week. Those two players along with Willie Daniel (on special teams) and Justin Taplin (for overall play) all received game balls. Koetter said that what was remarkable of Taplin's 62-yard punt return, was the fact that it was done on a "safe alignment" where the usual speedy players on special teams were not present. That alignment under normal circumstances wouldn't produce a big return. Scout players of the week were Chad Christensen ("Improving every week") on offense, Josiah Igono on defense, and Joey Smith on special teams.
In regards to Washington, the ASU coach pointed out how they have won 4 out their 5 games with a fourth quarter comeback. "That's what we're trying to do. The Pac-10 is very tough, and you just have to find ways to win. They're doing a god job of that. In our win against Oregon St. we had a fourth quarter comeback, so this week's game should be a very entertaining one."
Several questions centered on the stellar running game that the offense displayed, especially with Flowers and Tom Pace. "The health of the players has made it easy so far who to play (among the running backs). Mike Williams went down with a rib injury, and he was probably the most consistent running back so far. This past week Flowers was the healthiest he has been in practice, so that's why he played as much as he did. We do want to have a feature back carrying 20 times, and have his backup carry about ten times. Right now having two excellent backs (like Pace and Flowers) we have a problem who to play. It's a good problem to have." In the past, Koetter commented on Flowers' saying he was "dancing" too much. This past Saturday, the head coach said "Flowers was running with confidence straight ahead. He's a very strong guy and he broke more tackles this past game, than he did all season. When he ran for his 75-yard touchdown, Quarterback coach Helfrich yelled in my earphones after Flowers ran for his 5 yards – he's gone! His straight ahead running was very fast."
Koetter acknowledged hat the running game helped out the passing game in a big way. "Krohn answered the call all season long, and I don't know if it was his injury that contributed to his play last Saturday. His throw to McDonald (that eventually turned into a touchdown) was as good a throw he had all year. But he didn't do much beyond that. The running game carried us last game, and may continue to do so in the future." The ASU coach commented how the rest of the conference coaches are always paying the Sun Devils' offensive line lofty compliments. "We should be the top offense line in the Pac-10, with all the seniors we have playing. They are always telling me we can run the ball 40 times a game. Flowers also thinks he can carry it that many times. I think that with all the pounding a running back takes, it would be hard for any one back to run more than 20 times. Game situations dictate a lot how many carries and who will get the carries."
The turnaround on defense which led to "easily the best defensive effort of the season" can be attributed to the "reckless abandon that was displayed in practice. In practice' we stressed a lot the point of playing with emotion. We felt that was missing in the USC game. The emotion we showed in practice carried over to the game. Because of the new (4-2-5) scheme, we had players like Al Williams and Solomon Bates were thinking too much. Al Williams is playing more like an outside linebacker this year, which is very different than free safety. Now he's more comfortable playing that position. Against Oregon State we tackled better, and coach Guy made great adjustments at halftime."
The last question was asked somewhat in jest, concerning the possibility that the game time could be moved because of game one of the World Series. Mark Brand, the ASU's media relations director, said that since the game was going to be live nationally on Fox Sports Net "it was a moot point." Koetter asked with a smile: "Can they move first pitch to 8 A.M.?"
Koetter's Press Conf. Notes
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