Koetter began his post-game press conference pointing out that the victory was tempered by the loss of offensive lineman Zach Krula (broken ankle). "For all the good things we do, that's one of the first things I thought about at the end of the game," Koetter said. "He's in the locker room and he's not in too much pain right now, but it's just too bad it had to be that way. I'm real proud of our guys because we played without a lot of our top guys tonight. We were missing four starters and two or three of our top special teams players. A lot of players helped and got in the game."
Naturally, the Sun Devil skipper was disappointed with the dozen plus penalties. "Some of them were aggressive penalties and you can live with that," remarked Koetter. "But I'm proud of how we played and we executed better. In these games, all you can do is go out and do what you're supposed to do and we did that."
Koetter was pleased with the various players that stepped up in light of the several key members that were out because of injuries and other matters. "We were really banged up as a team," Koetter stated. Rudy (Burgess) was banged up. We were without out T-Rich and Zach (Miller) two offensive starters, Kyle (Caldwell) and Jamar (Williams) on defense. I think this shows the depth of our team. We knew all week, game plan wise, that we were gonna get Keegan in there and force the ball to him, and we thought that if we could do that successfully our play action will come and it did. We made some big plays on play action tonight."
While Herring's play is no surprise to Koetter, he's delighted with how the true freshman is handling his workload. "Keegan, from the first day at Camp T, has been steady everyday, and he has gotten better everyday," said the ASU Head Coach. "He had over twenty carries (23) tonight and that's a mark of a great back – take twenty carries and do that week after week. We wanted to see if he can make it that much and he sure answered the call. Obviously we have to take care of the fumble situation and teach him how to score when he's in front of everybody. I'm happy with Keegan and all of our backs."
Koetter was also full of praise in regards to Sam Keller and his play. "As I said many times, I never had a quarterback learn what we're doing this fast," Koetter commented. "He learned it very quick as a true freshman. You see it every week – he's a special character. Rudy (Carpenter) has something to him too. Sam was red hot on his checks tonight – a couple of those big pass plays were checks. In the touchdown to Matt Miller (on 4th and 1), they were in an all-out blitz. We hadn't practiced that one time this week. Sam checked us into it and threw a strike to Matt Miller…that kid does at least one thing every week that makes you shake your head (smile). He's a great leader on the field. He's well-prepared. (QB's coach) Mark Helfrich does a great job getting him ready. I'm glad he's on our side."
The defense was another bright spot in Koetter's opinion. "Northwestern is gonna move the ball on everyone they play," he said. "Their scheme is very tough to defend, especially if you got a quarterback that can run it. I like Basanez a lot – I think that guy is an excellent player. Bill (Miller) had a great game plan. He asked our guys to be disciplined tonight, and we didn't give up too many big plays. We kept the ball in front of us, we tackled pretty well, we caused turnovers…really the only fault you can find tonight, on both sides of the ball, is that we had way too many penalties."
When asked if this win is a good preparation for Pac-10 play, Koetter replied: "These games are hard, because of coming off a tough emotional game last week. It's a game that everybody tells you all week that you're suppose to win. We didn't get off to a great start and the penalties have to go, but the scoreboard part is definitely what you're looking for. They all count now. Oregon State has the best home record in the Pac-10 over the last five years. We don't have to worry about can we get our guys up anymore (for a game) – they'll be up every week. We have a lot to play for and it gets fun. We still have a lot in front us. This is a good football team and we just have to get better."
773 yards of offense can surely imply that this unit was unstoppable, and its leader Sam Keller concurs with that notion. "We're a good offense," he stated. "We do whatever we do when we want to do it. There's a ton of stuff we could have done better. If we do all those things better, we would probably have 900 yards. It was still a lot of fun out there tonight."
"We practiced all week about their ‘weird' looking looks," Keller said about the Northwestern's defense. "Our coaches put us in a great position to be successful against whatever they threw at us. The line did so well, and everybody did so well like we practiced all week. It is nice to know that we had an average week in practice and we can still come out and turn it on for a game. We're a very experienced unit, and it showed. We can just handle anything, and we are a high powered offense. Even if we do something wrong, we work on it the next play and get a first down. When we're clicking and not beating ourselves, we are scary to face."
The success of the rushing offense, is something Keller sees as a key to the team's potent passing attack. "Keegan (Herring) is a stud," said Keller. "When Keegan gets going and gets holes, he just runs. The kid can bounce off tacklers, he hits the gap hard...when I turn around (following a hand-off) to see what is happening with the play, he's already gone and that's pretty impressive. It's not just because of him, it's because of our offensive line. The rushing attack and the passing attack just feed off of each other. We are going to throw the ball every game, that's no secret. But having the attack to be able to rush the ball…our whole playbook opens up. Having guys like Keegan and Rudy adds a whole new dimension, and you could see that tonight."
The team's offensive line also got some compliments from the signal caller. "You can't say enough about the offensive line," Keller commented. "They are good. There is no other way to put it. They're good and they do their job almost every time. When they don't, it's weird. I'm proud of them every day in practice. They are going to carry this offense. It starts and finishes with those guys. I wish people would give them more credit than they get."
Keller is anxious to start the Pac-10 schedule, and takes the team's next opponent, despite its big loss, very seriously. "This is Pac-10 - It's no joke," he stated. "I think Northwestern found out the hard way tonight. LSU found out…everyone we play from now on is good. Oregon State got whooped, but they're still pretty good and they'll put up a fight. Everyone we play will be a dog fight and we'll be ready. Our intensity will be huge. Getting all the guys back will be good so we can practice. If we keep doing what we are doing now, it's gonna be fun."
Wide receiver Matt Miller got the nod at starter with Terry Richardson out, and was gratified that his hard work in practice materialized into a solid performance. "I had a good week of practice with Sam (Keller) and he helped me prepare for the game and made it easy for me," said Miller. "I was able to step up and it worked out well. The things they did is what we practiced on all week. That last play (fourth and one), was suppose to be a run play. They lined up in man coverage and we'll take that anytime."
In regards to that gutsy call on the 4th and 1 play, Keller added: "They were bringing the all-out blitz and we worked on that all week. They said ‘they're not gonna pass the ball' and I said ‘yes we are.' It was great."
Tailback Keegan Herring entered the press conference holding a football, which was probably a directive from one of the coaches or teammates following his two fumbles in the game. The true freshman politely declined to talk about why he had the pigskin with him, and just commented: "I'll let you answer that when you watch the tape."
As always, he gave much credit to his offensive line. Not only does he think they aided him in his career night, but he also appreciated their encouragement following his mishaps. "It is hard to come back after a play like that (fumble on 67-yard run)," he admitted, "but the O-line and everybody kept telling me to forget about it and give it 110 percent the next time out. So that is what I did. I let it go and went back out there and gave it everything I had."
"It means everything to me that my coaches, o-line, quarterback and other teammates have faith in me," Herring continued. "They put me back in there and gave me a chance to show what I got. They know I can hold on to the ball."
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill said that the ASU defense had its hands full preparing for the visitors from Evanston. "There was a lot of pressure on the defense this week, because of the things that they do," he said. "They have an unorthodox offense as far as what we face normally. We have a game plan. There was a lot of emphasis put on the defensive end and they came through to shut down the option. They had a few big plays on it, but for the most part we executed when we needed to in the clutch."
Hill contended that much of the defense's success was the in-game alterations.
"We just had to regroup," he recalled. "We had to talk about the things we were seeing on the field and talk about the things that they were doing differently than what we prepared for all week," he said. "Obviously, they game-planned us and made some adjustments on their offense to execute against us. We had to get together as a defense on the sidelines and talk about the things they did different and how to defend it. Our coaches put us in a position to win. They call the right calls when we need them, and its up to us to execute."
The junior is overall satisfied with the defense's performance and stated that it's playing with the intensity that is needed. "I think we did some really good things, but obviously when we watch film they'll be things that we need to correct," Hill remarked. "The biggest thing on defense is that you have to fly around. Effort is a big thing and that's what we try to emphasize very week. If a guy makes a mistake, you can make up for that mistake with effort on defense. Tonight we had guys flying around and making plays when they needed to, and that's something we can definitely take with us into Pac-10 play."
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