Koetter's Press Conference Notes

In the first press conference of the 2002 season, the ASU Head Coach previewed the season opener against Nebraska.

Dirk Koetter opened the press conference saying: "We're very excited to play at the BCA classic in Lincoln on Saturday." He marveled about how quickly time has flown by since the announcement of this game was made. One factor that he finds hard to prepare for is the weather in Lincoln: "It's hard to prepare for humidity. The forecast for Saturday is 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity…It's not bad practicing here at night when it's 105. You really don't feel it once the sun goes down." Koetter stated that he would take 75 players on the trip, to help and combat the elements with depth. Another issue to contend with is naturally the Nebraska offense. "It's almost impossible for your scout team to duplicate the option, the speed, and the cut blocking that Nebraska shows you. The scout team doesn't run the option like Nebraska does, with their precision." The fact that Nebraska will be starting Jamal Lord, who's unknown to those outside Nebraska, makes it harder to prepare for. On the flip side, the ASU skipper said that Nebraska couldn't duplicate the offense the Sun Devils run. He also mentioned that while the word from Nebraska in the off-season was that they'll pass more this season, their final scrimmage had an overwhelming majority of run plays.

On a positive note, the second year coach mentions that the "The environment and experience of this game is too good to pass up…this is the most hostile environment we'll see all year until we visit Eugene." Nevertheless, Koetter exclaimed that the effects of playing this game will last a while "Even after the $500,000 (ASU's payoff for the game) is all spent." He also pointed out that the team has been working extensively with a lot of piped crown noise at practices, which is unique for the pre-season. "It's obnoxious, but it will help."

Nebraska's field turf, which is a kinder version of the hard Astroturf, will not play a difference in utilizing ASU's speed. "When we practiced on this turf in Payson, I didn't see any difference between running on field turf and running on grass." Koetter also mentioned that Nebraska has a lot team speed "Even in their front four." Tackling on the other hand, will be a difference maker in this match up. Nebraska's potent running game will "Tell us a lot about our own tackling." Said Koetter, "We will be tested by them more than anyone else this season."

A natural concern is the match up between ASU's inexperienced offensive line and Nebraska's strong and battle tested defensive line. "We came a long way." Said the ASU Head Coach when asked about his offensive line. "We're all but solid at right tackle where Ayala, Niko, and White have been practicing. Nebraska's defensive line has three players with starting experience; they have excellent ends, and depth. We will have to do things to help our offensive line out." A good preparation for the Sun Devils is practicing everyday against ASU's All-American defensive end Terrell Suggs, since the Nebraska defensive ends "Aren't faster than he is."

The bitter losses that Nebraska's suffered at the end of the season to Colorado and Miami, could lead fans to believe that their defense is quite vulnerable. Koetter doesn't see the situation as simple as that: "You look at Colorado and Miami, and they had a lot of good players who were drafted in the NFL's first round. Nebraska dominated all the other teams it played, and they dominated their offense in scrimmage (last week). They have a lot to prove this year, and we just happen to be the first team they're playing." While the ASU Head coach can only speculate on what changes the Huskers defense has gone through the off-season, he does anticipate more zone coverage. "We're gonna have to adjust on the run. We have a lot of team speed, and how we attack we'll depend on the scheme."

Speaking of Nebraska's defense, it would easy to assume that they will throw "Everything and the kitchen sink" at redshirt freshman Chad Christensen who'll be playing in his first ever ASU game. How will the Sun Devil counter that attack? "I can't say without telling you what we'll do," says Koetter "You can't throw hitch passes against them because they play the bump ‘n run. Those hitches sometimes turn into fade passes…I expect them to confuse Chad, and do zone blitzing. They won't let us keep it simple with them. We'll have to make adjustments, and we'll make them adjust to us."

The ASU Head Coach did coach years ago at Missouri, a Nebraska Big 12 conference foe, and remembers playing against them. "Nebraska has the most polite crowd. They kick your butt, and give you a standing ovation when you leave the field (smile). At Missouri we could never stop the option. Once we lost a close game where we passed for the 2nd or 3rd highest total in school's history. But that was ten years ago, so there's no carry over. It's tough place to play at, and we have our work cut out. But what a great challenge"!

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