Pressure to Win Not Limited to USC

Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans Head Coach, stated that one issue that often gets overlooked, is that the pressure of playing the number one team in the country can be just as great as his own team's pressure to continue their win streak and preserve their number one ranking. How does the Sun Devils head coach view that statement?

"That's an interesting point," said Dirk Koetter in his weekly press conference. "I never thought about it like that. As he said, they're used to it. USC knows they'll get every team's best shot. I know our players are thrilled with the prospects of playing them." On that note, does the Sun Devil skipper expect to possibly rein in the his squad's emotions this week? "When's 105 degrees on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday you're just trying to make it through practice." He quipped. "So maybe at the end of the week that might happen (getting overly excited for the game). We'll just have to keep an eye on that."

Koetter took time to mention the players that did receive game balls for their play against Oregon State. "We gave the game ball to Sam Keller. Sam was tremendous in the game. He really hung in the pockets, took some hits and really threw the ball down the field. Andrew Carnahan really played a heck of a game too. Andrew was really sick on Thursday and Friday and for him to play like he did after being so sick, really showed what kind of player he is."

"We gave two game balls out on defense." Koetter continued. "We gave balls to Jamar Williams and Maurice London. Maurice played the best game of his career. He is playing with a lot of confidence. Jamar had thirteen tackles, caused a fumble and intercepted the ball. He was named Pac-10 Player Of the Week. It's great to have DeWayne Hollyfield back. After missing our first two games, DeWayne came up with three sacks in the game. Special teams game ball goes to Littrele Jones, who blocked a punt. He played well on the other special teams as well." The extra captain for the USC game will be DeWayne Hollyfield .

The ASU head coach admitted that the win over the Beavers wasn't a thing of beauty, but that many positives did come out of that contest. "I think we made a lot of plays," he commented. "We made big plays on both sides of the ball. We had eight sacks in the game. The big stat was six turnovers to zero. You aren't going to lose a game when you have that turnover ratio. We are really pleased with our depth. We took 64 players on the trip and we played 62 of them. We played all 12 defensive linemen. I'm just pleased with the way the guys hung in there and played."

Koetter was naturally complimentary of the USC team and their play. He called Matt Leinhart and Reggie Bush perhaps two of best offensive players in all of college football, and added that USC's speed on defense is lighting quick. To top it all off, he explained that preparing for the Trojans based on their games thus far will be a challenge. "In the three games they played," he remarked, "Hawaii and Oregon are totally a spread offense. They got ahead so well in front of Arkansas, that Arkansas was trying just to run the clock out. So, those are hard tapes for us to study, and we don't have great film to go on."

The Sun Devil skipper hailed USC's offense, and mentioned their numerous playmakers. "We have good stats on offense," he claimed. "But USC's stats are unheard of. You can't just sit there and play one defense on a team like that. Leinhart and Bush get all the credit, but they got a great tight end in Byrd, they have two awesome wideouts in Smith and Jarrett, they have a veteran offensive line, and oh by the way they have LenDale White at running back. There is not a team in the Pac-10 that wouldn't love to have LenDale White as their starting tailback. White gets very little national publicity. He is the kind of guy that you could give the ball to 25 times and he could give you over 100 yards…we certainly have a work cut out for us, but what a fun week it should be."

The win against Oregon State showcased an aggressive defense, and Koetter couldn't be more pleased with their play last Saturday. "They had six turnovers. We had a lot of pass breakups. We had three other balls that were almost intercepted. We really hadn't done a great job of rushing the passer in a four-man rush, but when you come up with eight sacks, and it came from our front four."

"It was great to get Kyle Caldwell back involved," Koetter continued. "We thought that he would be limited somewhat from a conditioning standpoint to 25 plays, and he played 25 in the first half. He played 43 plays. When he gets back in the flow he'll help our whole D-Line. In the Oregon State game, they were always turning their protection and sending a back to double-team Dale (Robinson), when Dale is rushing. Kyle's specialty is bull rush, and I would think as the season goes on that would help Kyle. He was very healthy in practice yesterday. Hopefully he's on track to getting back full time."

Reggie Bush, is surely one player that will get extra attention not only from the ASU coaches, but also by all those in attendance. "I think Reggie Bush is one of those players who comes around every so often," said Koetter. "I think he's off the charts. He could probably start at five different positions: tailback, wideout, cornerback, safety, kick returner for every team in the country. I remember when we were trying to recruit him out of high school. I've never seen a guy like him. Every time he touched the ball he scored."

When asked how he would avoid Bush's big punt returns, Koetter joked by saying: "We better get ready to go for it a lot on fourth down…Hopefully we don't have too many punts. USC in the past has done a tremendous job. They don't go for blocks a lot because they have such a great return man. Bush is probably the best return guy in the country. We are going to try to keep the ball away from Bush."

The USC standout definitely made his mark during his team's 45-7 win over the Sun Devils. The memories of those game, are definitely ones that the ASU head coach would like to erase with a strong performance on Saturday. "We sucked – that's what I take from it," replied Koetter when asked what he took away from last year's meeting with the Trojans. "I just got through watching it before I came in here. We didn't play well, we got off to a horrible start and the crowd got into it. That game wasn't what ASU football is all about. Our players know that. I think our players remember that it was not a good feeling. I don't think that it's (last year's game) is indicative of what kind of football team we have, but we have to prove it on the field." Koetter added that the veteran players on the team talked about Oregon State loss from 2003 in the days leading up to last week's game, and could do the same for the USC contest.

The ASU offensive line has been a bright spot all season long, and Koetter said that this was also the case even with one of their best players out of the lineup. "Our offensive line has played very well," he commented. "Last game was our first game in life without Zach Krula. Zach was at practice yesterday. It is nice to see him smiling. He was feeling some pain still, and was going to try to go back to school today…Mike Pollak and Leo Talavou played really well. Leo played 38 snaps and Mike played 31. We are going to leave that as an open competition. In the Oregon State game, we made some mental mistakes on some front calls that hurt us in the running game. I'm disappointed that we did that, we are better than that. Overall, I am very pleased with the way our offensive line is playing. They are going to have to play really well this week. They are going to have to play well every week."

Quarterback Sam Keller's toughness against the Beavers, rivaled that of the linemen in the trenches. Hit after hit, the junior took the beating and kept on ticking. "I think we were a little bit spoiled because in the first three games Sam didn't get touched," said Koetter. "They sacked us twice in this game. They has a few blitzes where they had a free hitter right in Sam's face, and Sam delivered two great throws. We tend to forget sometimes, because Sam isn't as tall as Andrew Walter. But Sam is all of 6'4 and 235lbs. Sam is a thick guy. He can take a hit. Sam definitely demonstrated toughness. His ankle is fine and Sam will be good to go." Koetter added that he didn't think that Krula's absence contributed to the hits on Keller. Koetter also stated that he regrets calling a conservative game after his team was leading 42-10, and that this approach cannot be taken against the top team in the country.

Defensive newcomers Zach Catanese and Keno Walter-White both delivered great performances against Oregon State. "I've been very pleased with Zach Catanese," the ASU head coach remarked. "I think he is our number two tackler (in total team tackles), and one of our top special teams players. Zach has been playing like a warrior. Keno has been getting better and better every week. He has never gone against a guy like Hass, other than going against Derek (Hagan) in practice. Hass is a heck of a college player. Keno got burned a couple pf times, but also two pass breakups and some big hits. Keno is still learning that at this level you have to focus on every play." Koetter also mentioned that Dale Robinson has been outstanding and is "Playing with reckless abandon."

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