Hagan Appreciates Records, But Relishes Wins

ASU's Hall of Fame opened to the public this past Saturday. On Monday, three floors up from this impressive exhibit, wide receiver Derek Hagan was asked about the opportunity he has to be the Pac-10 all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards – a sure ticket to be recognized on the ICA building's main floor. The humble Hagan said he would be honored, but without his team's success, the honor may be a hollow one.

"Records are made to be broken," said Derek Hagan who's 12 receptions and 488 yards from capturing those records. "I know I'm getting close to the records, and I'm having a good season. It would be great for me to break those records, but it would be a lot better for us to get more victories."

The window of opportunity for the senior to etch his name as the conference best, is a narrow one. Hagan admitted that he has taught about the fact that his senior season is winding down with less of a handful of games remaining. "I have three games left in a Sun Devil uniform, and I'm definitely looking forward to it," he admitted. "I wish it never came to an end – these last four years have been great, playing in the maroon and gold."

The wide receiver will close out his career catching passes from once backup signal caller Rudy Carpenter, who's performance in the team's last outing earned him the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Hagan credits Carpenter's performance to his hard work and dedication. "It all comes down to Rudy being in the film room," Hagan explained. "When we had the break, the coaches asked him to stay in town so that he could study and make sure that he knew everything that was going on in our offense. Everything he has done has all panned out. Once we get on the field, we are all out there executing, and he's getting the job done."

One of Carpenter ‘s biggest attributes is his mobility. However, that can have an impact on receivers such as Hagan who are used to playing with pure pocket passers such as Sam Keller and Andrew Walter. Then again, Hagan does minimize any issues that may arise from the attributes Carpenter beings to the field. "It doesn't affect the game too much, but it is great to have a quarterback in the game that can run and take off when he is about to get sacked," Hagan stated. "The corners may come up and start chasing him and that's when he can take off and throw the ball over their heads. We have to make sure we're aware of the situation, so that when he's scrambling, we can scramble with him to make sure he can see us."

According to the wide receiver, injured quarterback Sam Keller, has been helping Carpenter quite a bit in preparing him for games. One other attribute, according to Hagan, that has to rub off Keller, is the leadership trait that Carpenter must now possess. "Rudy has to take on that role now," said Hagan. "He is the quarterback, he is in the huddle, and he has to make sure that he knows what everyone is doing in the huddle, not just the receivers but also the offensive line and who they need to block. That is one of the main things for him, is to make sure he knows everything. He's getting better everyday and it's showing by what he can do on the field."

The win over Washington was an obvious confidence booster for the maroon and gold. "That three game losing streak was very tough for us," Hagan commented. "Guys didn't know what was going on or where our team was at after those losses and we kept fighting and fighting, but we weren't coming away with any victories. After Saturday's game, it just feels good to come out of there with a win and to have everyone on the same page."

Head Coach Dirk Koetter mentioned an open team forum that was held the Sunday after the squad's third consecutive loss, that allowed the players to air out their feelings and frustrations. Hagan recalled that gathering. "A lot of guys had a lot of things on their minds last week and some of them stepped up and said what they needed to be said," Hagan remarked. "They got everything out there and the coaches broke it down to seven main things. We came away with a good outcome."

Execution and preventing silly penalties from occurring in the most inopportune times, were two of the main points that this meeting produced. There is however one more aspect that Koetter hinted that was lacking compared to last year, and that was players calling out their teammates. "You want to criticize each other, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way," Hagan explained. "You just have to let the other players know that they are doing something wrong. and help them correct it . Be a mentor to them so that they know that it's wrong, make the corrections, and not make those mistakes again."

Reversing the past is also something the Sun Devils will try to do against the Washington State Cougars. The Devils haven't tasted victory in Pullman since the 2000 season. Hagan acknowledged the tough environment of Martin Stadium, but was also excited to play there and get a chance at a win. "It's another opportunity to play another game," he stated. "We are sitting at 4-4 and hopefully we can improve our record to 5-4. We just have to come out playing like we did last week and make sure to get the job done. We're definitely looking forward to going up there and coming back with a victory."

The recent slump the team has suffered has forced them to readjust goals from trying to qualify for a BCS bowl, to becoming bowl eligible period. How have the Sun Devils been able to cope with this drastic change? "It was really rough," said Hagan. "We had to make sure to keep our heads up and keep playing. We know we have a great team and obviously our record isn't showing that sitting at 4-4. We definitely believe we can win the next three and finish at 7-4."

Derek Hagan wasn't sure of his Halloween custom this year, but mentioned how he liked to dress up as Spiderman back in his youth. It may just take a super hero effort by him and his comrades to come away victorious in all of their remaining games. Even if the team comes short, Hagan may still get the personal records that will crown him as the conference best. That would be bitter-sweet accomplishment for one of the all-time best at ASU, who also happens to be the consummate team player…

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