Q: Can you talk about the great play of your defense and in particular Mkristo Bruce?
A: "I think he (Bruce) has done a real nice job through out his career and has grown up a lot. He's a great leader for our defense. Both in the run game and the pass game he's been fantastic. His teammates voted him captain last spring and he has taken a great deal of pride in it. He's brings emotion to the game, and he's one of those guys that we truly rely on."
"Our defense has done some good things for us over the course of the year. Some of those statistical numbers aren't all that awesome, but they have helped us win some football games. I think we're leading the Pac-10 in takeaways. We've dealt with some adversity in personnel – we lost our defensive end in the first game, but our kids have responded to that very well. Obviously, we've been moving back and forth between the 3-4 and 4-3 package, and our players have been putting us in positions to win games. We were improving up until last Saturday (when they lost to Arizona) and that was a very disappointing ball game. I expected us to play more productive in that game. We got that behind us and now we need to keep on moving and get ready for an Arizona State offense that has been very explosive."
Q: Speaking of injuries, do you have an update on receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus?
A: "I don't have solid information. I would be surprised if they were playing this weekend. They'll treat the heck out of them and we'll see how it goes. At best I think it will be a game time decision."
Q: What specifically went wrong for the defense in the loss to Arizona?
A: "Big plays…the third play of the game we let a guy run downfield with no safety help and they get a touchdown. Third down defense – we were inconsistent. We got some three and outs, an interception, and then they get a 12-play drive that scored a touchdown. What really hurt us were the big plays, where you're not even contesting the play. They ran for more yards than they ever had (this year), which is disappointing to me. They had 116 yards but it took them 40 carries to get there. So you think you're doing a good job, but in the four quarter, 3rd and 15, they get 15 yards on a draw play. Not stopping them on third downs, especially in the fourth quarter, really hurt us."
Q: Can you talk about the pressure you put on the QB in general, aside from the pressure Bruce puts?
A: "We have good sack numbers. In the 3-4 package, the pressure can come from either end or from inside. We try to mix it up and not do a lot of any one thing. We try to get guys in one-on-one situations. Scott Davis had three sacks in the Oregon game; two of them came in the final possession and helped us win that game. Bruce had five sacks against Stanford – they really didn't have an answer for him. Lance Broadus is fourth in the conference in sacks – he's a guy that has good wheels. The pressure on the QB can come anywhere from a three-man rush to an eight-man rush. It depends on what the offense presents."
Q: You have a victory after each loss this year. What makes you such a resilient team?
A: "I think the pride factor has something to do with it. We got some experience on this football team. We went through some growing pains a year ago, and the losses we had were four points or less in hard fought games. There's a better idea now on how to respond to things and fix the things we had issues with. We have some good leadership. You just have to make your corrections, learn from mistakes and build off to success. I'd like to see that trend continue and get back on track this week."
Q: Going back and fourth between the 4-3 and the 3-4, is that totally injury predicated or is it to give an offense different looks from week to week?
A: "I like the fact that it creates a lot of situations for the offense, and what I mean by that is that it creates protection and blocking scheme decisions that they need to make. It's a lot of looks that they need to prepare for, that's easy for us to run. The things that we do against an offense may look like three or four different deals, where it's really just one call that our kids have to execute. That combination is something good for us. We went into the season wanting to have a blend between the two, and I would be lying to you if it wasn't (enhanced) by the need due to our available personnel. The good thing is that we have been able to build it through out the course of the season. We have been able to blend them well without causing the kids to do a lot of thinking."
Q: What are your observations of ASU's offense?
A: "That tight end (Zach Miler) is a great player and has made a ton of plays. I know (Ryan) Torain has his ankle dinged up, but I think (Keegan) Herring is a great back. He has some speed and has made some great runs the last few weeks. The quarterback (Rudy Carpenter) is a proven player. He may not have had the success he had last year, but he has certainly showed the capability of doing that. I think it's a very good offense and I think we'll have our work cut out for us."
Quotes From WSU's Def. Cord. Robb Akey
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