Early Beavers Games Not As Valuable in Preparation

Following last Saturday's Oregon State's lopsided 63-27 loss to Louisville, some Sun Devil fans were naturally licking their chops to play the Beavers this weekend. Ironically, ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter said that because of offense the Cardinals run, there's only so much that his squad can learn from that game tape.

"When I study tapes of other teams, I always look for offenses that are the most like ours," said Koetter. "I was excited to watch Boise State's tape (who played Oregon State two weeks ago), and I was excited to watch Louisville's tape. But every team spins the game plan their own way, and after watching the game tapes, I was disappointed because I realized that they weren't as similar (to ASU) as I thought. We have last year's game, we have three games from this season – we have plenty of tape to look at. It is nice going into games being as prepared as we can be. As a coach I can sleep much better at night knowing we have studied all we can." Koetter added that Oregon State runs an offense similar to ASU, and their defense is similar to what the Devils ran last year.

Oregon State did actually have a 10-0 lead on Louisville, before the Cardinals scored 35 unanswered points in a little over a quarter. Beavers Head Coach Mike Riley said that he never saw a game go from so good to so bad in five minutes, to which Koetter replied: "Wait until he watches our LSU film…he'll see another one." The Sun Devil skipper did assert that his team won't be overlooking Oregon State or anybody else for that matter.

"Our players are well aware of the importance of Pac-10 play and are very excited to get into Pac-10 play," claimed Koetter. "They have the outmost respect for Oregon State. All you have to do is put the film in. They're a very physical team, with playmakers…they got off to a 10-0 lead and they were dominating Louisville, and it just turned in a hurry. That (the score) isn't indicative of the difference between the teams. I think it's much closer."

In wrapping up the Northwestern game, Koetter was happy the large number of positives that came up on film, but just like he did on Saturday night, he brought up the fact that the season-ending injury to Zach Krula did put quite a damper on this victory. "Zach is scheduled to have surgery on that ankle at 2:00 tomorrow (Tuesday)," Koetter stated. "He is looking at a five to six month recovery period. It is unfortunate for Zach and our team. We'll probably end up with Mike Pollack or Leo Talavou filling in. We'd like to keep Grayling (Love) at center. I think either Mike or Leo will be fine there." He added that Chaz White was also considered as a fill-in, but the coaches do want him to continue and work at tackle.

When asked to compare Mike Pollack and Leo Talavou, Koetter replied: "Mike has had some experience in the offensive line position so we are not too worried about inexperience. Talavou has improved immensely this year, especially since spring ball. The difference between Pollack and Talavou is strength and mobility. Talavou has an extra 70 lbs on Pollack. But Pollack is more mobile."

Koetter announced that scout players of the week were Sean Lauvao ("He's just tearing up the scout offensive line. He has a very bright future as an offensive lineman."). Travis Smith, a freshman cornerback, was the scout player on defense. Brian Quakenbush was selected on special teams. Game balls went to Sam Keller and Zach Krula on offense. The Krula vote wasn't one of sympathy, but rather recognizing his great effort. "On the little screen we threw to Rudy Burgess on the touchdown, Zach made just an unbelievable block," Koetter recalled. "He knocked down two guys with one block to spring Rudy for that touchdown."

Jordan Hill got the game ball on defense for his consistently excellent play. Keno Walter-White received the game ball on special teams. "Keno is doing a good job not only on special teams but also on defense," said Koetter. "We gave Mike Davis Jr. the start this week, but Keno and Mike are playing equal amount of reps at the corner." The extra captain for Oregon State will be fellow cornerback Josh Golden. "He's playing very well, and of course he has a big assignment this week in Mike Haas, who is one of the best receivers in the Pac-10. "

Arizona State is averaging over 229 yards rushing a game this season, and there are many components that are contributing to that. "In the Northwestern game I thought we blocked really well," Koetter commented. "Our Wide receivers blocked down field really well." The ASU Head Coach was also pleased with what he saw on defense. "Northwestern makes it tough by spreading out a lot," he said. "We didn't miss very many tackles. Overall, I thought we really hustled. We played physical and hard. We did have too many penalties. We are going to have to do better in that area."

The improved running game has an obvious impact on the passing game, and the offense overall. "It's great to not be one-dimensional," Koetter explained. "There is plenty of credit to go around. It all starts with our offensive line. In our case, our two tight ends mostly and the wideouts the way they are blocking. Keegan Herring has been a huge lift to our football team. His style of running is exactly what we needed. Rudy played 23 plays at tailback and had 11 touches, which is a lot more suited for his style. Being able to run the ball certainly opens up your play action game. The first touchdown of the game was a play action to Jamaal Lewis. We love to play action and throw it deep."

In terms of size, both Rudy Burgess and Keegan herring are similar – both weighing 181 lbs. , with Burgess (at 5-11) having a two inch height advantage. Herring despite being a true freshman isn't only the rushing leader on the team, but also in the top ten nationally. What does make Herring have more success over a more experienced player such as Burgess?

"Keegan has been a running back his whole life and is used to taking hits," Koetter explained. "Rudy has played wide receiver and has stepped into the running back position. Deep in his heart, Rudy would rather play wide receiver. They are both very talented athletes. Once the seniors graduate, Rudy will have an opportunity to step back into the wide receiver position. But we are focusing on this year and we'll need both of those guys. They provide a nice 1-2 punch." Koetter was hopeful to get Randy Hill back to the running backs group this weekend, as well as Kyle Caldwell. He did expect to get Terry Richardson, Zach Miller, Chad Green back in time for the Oregon State game.

Quarterback Sam Keller has put some gaudy numbers of his own in the season's first three games. His passing yards (1,078) and his touchdowns (12) lead the nation. Despite his obvious talent and his performance in the Sun Bowl, has Koetter been taken aback by the way the junior has played thus far in his first full season as the starter? "I wouldn't say surprised," Koetter replied. "Sam has some intrinsic things about him that you learn every week. Sam is handling the check game tremendous. The coaches and I knew Sam had the ability to take this team where it needed to go. We knew he could make the passes. We knew he had the drive. It's the little things that surprise us about Sam. He studies the game plan so well. "

"On that fourth and one play against Northwestern, we were in a set up we had not anticipated and Sam's instincts took over and he made a great throw to Matt Miller for a touch down," Koetter continued. "So no, Sam's performance hasn't surprised me too much. I've coached quarterbacks over the years that you can tell them the play five times, and they'll say: ‘what formation was that out of?' Sam – I'll get halfway into the call, and he'll turn and walk away, which makes me panic (smile). That just shows how well he's prepared. I think the chance that he got to play behind Andrew Walter for a couple years is a positive, but I can't say I'm totally surprised at the what he's playing."

Koetter pointed out two aspects he would like to see improvement in going into Pac-10 play. "Penalties are a concern, especially after last game," He said. "We also need to try to not put the ball on the ground as much, regardless of who it is – it just happened to be Keegan in this last game. We fortunate that in the turnover area, we've been very close to even and even slightly on the plus side. There are always things we need to improve on."

The Pac-10 opener offers quite a few challenges, but they are all welcomed by the maroon and gold. "I am looking forward to Oregon State," asserted Koetter. "They are a good football team and are well coached. Mike Haas being the key player on offense. They have two excellent linebackers returning in Trent Bray, the middle linebacker, and one outside linebacker Keith Ellison. They have the best record in the Pac-10 at home over the last five years, because logistically, you can't stay there. There is no place to stay in Eugene, so we're staying in Salem. It's not just like flying into Sky Harbor and coming over here."

"It will be the first time we've been there since they've redone the stadium," Koetter continued. "I heard it is really nice, and it can get very loud. You can also have weather (issues). It was just pouring that whole Boise State game. I talked to the Boise State coaches and it definitely affected their ball handling. It's our road opener and Pac-10 opener - we have a big week in front of us."

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