Rutgers Bowl Inexperience Doesn't Faze ASU

Some college football pundits don't believe that the Big East should be considered as a BCS conference, and they say so only half-jokingly. Thus, it would be easy to dismiss one of its representatives, Rutgers, who hasn't participated in the post-season since 1978, as they make only their second ever bowl appearance. In Monday's Insight Bowl Press Conference , Coach Dirk Koetter rebuffed any suggestions that his bowl experienced team has a significant advantage over their opponent.

"I haven't given that one second of thought," said the Arizona State University Head Coach. "The fact that you have been in a bowl or not been in a bowl, come 6:36 tomorrow night, who cares? It's football. We both played 11 football games. Coach Schiano has been in bowl games. He knows what he's doing preparing these guys. We know how to play and they know how to play, and it's all gonna come down to who plays better."

"Rutgers is a good football team," Koetter continued. "The film doesn't lie. You have to be impressed with what they have done. I'm not saying that they played any teams like USC, but it doesn't matter because tomorrow they're playing us. Our guys know that if we don't have our heads on straight. We're gonna get our asses kicked. That's just the way it is. The parity in college football is unbelievable. If you are overlooking someone – you're nuts. We're not good enough to do that (overlook Rutgers)."

The Sun Devil skipper pointed out that comparing both conferences is hard to do, mainly due to his unfamiliarity with the Big East teams and players. "When you look at the tape," he commented, "and we traded every game, and you're looking at another conference film, you're comparing apples and oranges. When you look at the Cincinnati game, and Rutgers had nine sacks – their D-Line looked like they were all first-round draft picks in that game. Well, are they're first round draft picks or does Cincinnati stink? You really don't know. We didn't recruit those players. We don't know if that left tackle is a good player, would he be a starter in the Pac-10? Those are the things that keep you up at night."

Koetter admitted that "there's a great concern" with Rutgers' running game. "Those two running backs are the real deal," he stated. "They sure haven't fumbled it much. I don't see it as boring football. I see it as smart football and that's their game." Nonetheless, the Scarlet Knights' passing game, is one that will command its own respect. "I have a long history with their (Rutgers') offensive coordinator," Koetter remarked. "He's been trained by some of the best guys out there. The thing that Rutgers does a great job with is that they set you up with their running game, and create a bunch of cluster formations, try to play action you and get that fullback in the flat. If you're covering him they'll throw downtown…Rutgers has all the schemes that every high-powered passing team has. Sure, you have to commit the safeties to stop the run game, and when they play action they have a chance for some big plays. We're not overlooking their passing game, but if you're not stopping their running game you have no chance."

The ASU head coach pointed out that the team got most of the players back from the flu bug, and that the squad was missing less than a handful of players in its last practice. "We had an excellent practice last night (Sunday)," Koetter remarked. "After that day and half off, it really looked like we had our legs back. We looked as fast as we did in a long time, and I sure hope that holds until tomorrow night."

The Insight Bowl is shaping up as essentially another home game for the Sun Devils, and some suggest that this detail along with the disappointment over the 6-5 season, can create a somewhat lackadaisical perception of the maroon and gold being at an emotional disadvantage. Koetter adamantly disagrees such a notion. "This team has a chance to finish with back-to-back bowl wins, which is the first time that it happened at ASU in the last 20 years," he explained. "When you're building a program, playing in a bowl game sure beats sitting at home watching the other 60 teams play. All these guys are competitors and when that switch goes on, and the competitive juices start following, these guys are playing hard and playing to win."

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