Koetter Confident Team Will Pick Itself Up

There's no doubt that 48 hours after the fact, the loss to Cal still stings. However, resiliency is a must in the game of football and ASU's head coach is certain that this virtue will be demonstrated by his squad this Saturday as they face Oregon at home.

"You have to get right back at it, right back in the fray," said Coach Dirk Koetter. "When you lose a game it hurts. The competitive side of you wants to get back out there and get after it again. In life you have to pick yourself up and go compete again. You have to wait a week for that. Sunday and Mondays are the hardest. When you start practicing again and start getting your game plan together, the build up will begin all over again for Oregon. The loss to California hurts a lot in the short term, but there is a lot of ball left to be played."

Unfortunately, one outcome of last week's game that may linger for a while is the injury to offensive lineman Andrew Carnahan's leg, which Koetter admitted looked "nasty" when he watched the game tape. "(Andrew) got bent over backwards on field goal protection," described Koetter. "He was trying to plant his inside leg and just got hit from the outside and got bent back over. I don't think it's the worst-case scenario, but we have to wait for the MRI." That medical test was scheduled to take place in the later part of Monday.

Two other players who have injuries with an open-ended timetable for recovery are Loren Howard and Zach Krula. "Loren had a reoccurrence at last Wednesday's practice," noted Koetter. "I didn't really know how bad it was, but it's bad enough now that Loren is out indefinitely." When asked about a possibility that the D-I transfer could be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, the Sun Devil skipper admitted that counting on that scenario to take place would be "rolling the dice", but it's certainly a possibility.

As far as Krula goes, Koetter mentioned that the offensive lineman is doing some rehab work in the weight room, and had started to run in a straight line. "I don't think he is to the point where he can do cutting yet," he said. "Our next re-evaluation period for that will be next week, the bye week, to see where he stands. He has to get that ankle back to where he can physically play at 100 percent. My gut is that he is doubtful."

The obvious positive that came out of the Cal loss, was ASU's rushing attack that amassed 237 yards on Saturday. Koetter admitted that overall his squad didn't play as hard as they did against Colorado the week before, but naturally its run blocking was an area he was pleased with. The Sun Devil skipper singled out a pair of offensive linemen and a tight end for their fine play. "Paul Fanaika, who made his first career start at right guard, was outstanding, as was Zach Miller," remarked Koetter. "We used Zach primarily as a fullback in this game, as a lead blocker. He would make (former ASU fullback and current New Orleans Saint) Mike Karney proud with the way he played. Also Robert Gustavis, as a right guard, had a very difficult assignment up against (California defensive tackle) Brandon Mebane, who is one of the better defensive tackles in the league. He really competed well. I think that will be a huge confidence booster for him."

"On the defensive side of the ball," continued Koetter, "I thought we actually played the run game okay. I thought our defensive line played California's offensive line well. Our linebackers did a really good job against the run game. We still need to support a little bit better with our secondary. It's spotty. They've missed a couple tackles. We can't give up that many plays in a hurry. They hit us on some big plays but that was primarily one guy."

In order for the Sun Devils to find success again, quarterback Rudy Carpenter will have to shake off what was his worst performance to date. His head coach thinks that getting back to good fundamentals will cure all ills. "Rudy is carrying the ball too low," explained Koetter. "When he scrambles he is dropping the ball out of his left hand. He is throwing off his back foot…he has been there before, he'll get it back. It's not like he's never had fundamentals. He has picked up a couple of bad habits trying to make big plays. We just have to get back to solid mechanics. We'll get that straight this week." Koetter added that his signal caller should also throw the ball away more often, instead of scrambling around and exposing himself to big hits.

In Carpenter's defense, the ASU wide receivers also played poorly in last week's game. Koetter stated that the loss of seniors Derek Hagan, Moey Mutz, and Matt Miller is being felt strongly these days. "I think we are just going through some growing pains right now," he said of the wide receivers unit. "We are just inconsistent at wide receiver. We are playing a lot of guys. We have had some situations come up where we haven't gotten into a regular rotation. The most consistent guy this fall has been Rudy Burgess, but Rudy has missed two weeks of practice. I expect Rudy could be back this week. Right now our most consistent guy has been Nate Kimbrough. He has really raised the level of his game." Koetter added the timing between Carpenter and the receivers has been off during practice, and is something that will be worked this week in order to improve on for Saturday.

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