Everything is Clear Now for Catanese

Zach Catanese suffered a concussion against Stanford a few weeks back. Against Oregon State last week, he came early out of the contest and was on the bench for long periods of the game thereafter, claming he didn't feel right. Even though he's not sure if those events are connected or not, his outlook on the remainder of the season is far less murky.

"I feel good now and ready to play," said Catanese following Thursday's practice. "A couple of weeks ago against Stanford I had a concussion and I was recovering from it since then. On Saturday (against Oregon State), I just didn't feel right. I didn't feel like I was all there. I talked to the coaches about that, and we decided it was good for me to take a little of a rest. I did end up going in a little in the second half."

The safety, who is third on the team with 45 tackles, naturally didn't enjoy his time on the bench during the loss to Oregon State. "It's always frustrating," he admitted. "You sit there and you're watching…we're a good team and have so much potential. But when we don't do the things that we practice, it's very disappointing on the field." What made the loss in Corvallis even more disappointing for Catanese is the fact that he has a lot of family in the state of Oregon and many of them attended that game.

The flight from Corvallis to Tempe is always a long one, and following a defeat such a trip becomes that much more miserable for a player like Catanese who agonizes heavily over a loss. "Some guys let it go, but the loss eats at me for a few days," he explained. "I go through the ‘what ifs' an all the stuff I wish would have happened. I just try to figure out what I did wrong and what I can do to get better. But when Tuesday rolls around you have to get ready for the next team, you can't dwell on it."

With that being said, what does he think about the team's next opponent Washington State and the offense he and his defensive comrades will go up against? "They have a very good quarterback," noted Catanese. "He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he's very smart and makes smart throws. He knows how to do his check downs, which guys to throw it to…I hear they're kinda injured at wideouts right now, and that's better for us because we can key off the different types of offense they have. They're not able to do as much without those wide receivers. But overall they're a pretty good team."

In 2006 it has been proven that when the Sun Devils are toe-to-toe with their opponent early in the game, and not falling behind two or three touchdowns during the opening moments of a game, they do find success. Thus, does this behoove ASU to play the proverbial close to the vest game, where little chances are taken by both sides of the ball? "I guess you can say it's better to be close, so guys know that we're still in it rather than being down (by a large margin) real quick and guys maybe throwing in the towel," replied Catanese. "But I don't see that happening too much. Sometimes when bad stuff happens, it continues to happen and it's hard to get out of that rut. So I can see why you want to keep the game close and keep on playing harder and harder. But I don't think it's much of an issue."

It goes without saying that the winner of the turnover battle is usually the ultimate winner of a game. On the other hand, playing with the primary intent to cause a turnover isn't that feasible. "When you're out there, you're no thinking ‘OK, I will make the interception right now'. You have to go by instinct," explained Catanese. "When you're tackling the guy you can try and swipe (the ball) with your hand or when somebody else is tackling and you see the ball. It's all instinct. If you think about it too much, you end up missing a tackle and a guy scores."

Winning the turnover battle on this ASU team has taken on even a bigger importance because of the struggles on the offense turning over the pigskin. One would think that the team at this point would tend to lean on its improved defense, but Catanese claimed that this notion is one that's difficult for him to support. "It's hard to answer," he said. "You can't expect the offense to put up 400 yards each game. We have a lot of talent, but we're young right now. It's hard for the offense to do the things we want them to do because of type of personnel we have. Defensively, we're trying to be as strong as we can. It's not bad if the offense is leaning on you. It just means it's more pressure on you and you have to make more plays. I kind of like the pressure on us – it pushes us a little harder

Another motivating factor for Catanese is his senior status, which translates to having less of a handful of games left in his collegiate career. "My dad called me up and told me that I did a lot of good things this year, and overall we played better (on defense) than last year," commented Catanese. "He also told me that there's three more (games), and I should play every one like it's my last. He wants me to have 30 tackles in the next three games. So I need to buckle down and play hard. I'm a senior and this is it for me. It's sad that I have three to go, but you have to play your best in the game left."

The fact that he mentions three more games and not four isn't rooted in his belief that the maroon and gold won't be part of the post-season. "I'm a day-to-day guy," he said. "I don't try to go too far ahead and I want to focus on the task we have right here. I want to say four games, but I also don't want it to come back and hit me back in the face."

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