Koetter announced the move in start time for the weekly practices to 3:45PM. "The forecast for the Stanford game is right around 100 degrees. We're better off going in the afternoon." He mentioned that high temperatures in practices would dictate a shorter duration. The time off was just what the doctor ordered according to the ASU skipper. "The bye week was very good. The players had Friday and Saturday off. We practiced last night (Sunday), and we're much healthier…we have fresher legs."
As a result of injuries and players coming back from injuries, the ASU coach announced some changes to the depth chart. Wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot who was on a leave of absence practiced well last week, and as a result reclaimed his starting job. Offensive lineman Riccardo Carlos has been hobbled by a bad back, and will undergo surgery, which will potentially be career ending. As a result, Phil Howard will move from defensive tackle to the offensive line. Consequently, defensive tackle Danny Masaiani moved up the depth chart and will backing up Brain Montesanto. Koetter mentioned that the return of safeties Al Williams and Joey Smith has allowed him to move safety Brett Hudson to cornerback, where he will backup Josh Golden and overall bolster depth at that position.
"We need a fast start in the Pac-10." Koetter said when he started to preview the Stanford Cardinal who will visit Tempe on Saturday. While he was elated that his squad has been able to rebound from slow starts and claim victories, he did stress the importance of starting conference play on the right foot. He believes that his team is up for the challenge. "We improved our fundamentals…we feel good about where we are. We're ready to go." The ASU coach said that the scouting material on Stanford is very limited. "We only have two game films on them. Lewis (Stanford's starting quarterback) didn't play against Boston College, and Matter (the backup) played well. We don't know what to expect at quarterback. Their coach is making is sound like Matter will start…Lewis was the only Pac-10 quarterback to lead his team to victory at Oregon last year."
One Stanford player that the Devils know is vital to contain this weekend is 6-7 wide receiver Teyo Johnson. "Teyo Johnson is a fantastic player… single toughest receiver to prepare for in the Pac-10, he's fast, he's physical, and he's got great hands." Koetter compared him to Reggie Williams of Washington, and Bobby Wade of Arizona. Nevertheless, with all the accolades bestowed on Johnson, the ASU coach doesn't expect the Cardinal attack to be a one-man show. "Stanford is a much more balanced team than San Diego State. They have an excellent running game, and (Luke) Powell is another great receiver on the other side. They also move Teyo Johnson around a lot, so we can't just double cover him, and take him out of the game because they move him, and that would always make us a gap short on coverage."
Safety Brett Hudson's move to cornerback, a position he played at his junior college last year, was done so he can combat Johnson using his 6-2 frame. Will Hudson move last beyond the Stanford game? "That will depend on how Brett plays. I'm really excited about Brett as a player, not only as a defensive back, a corner or a safety, but also on special teams. Brett's going to help our football team, he's a good player, he's big, fast, and physical. Originally at the start of the season, he was hurt, which put Joey Smith down at safety. When he got back for San Diego State, it was just in time. We have several injuries at corner, and other places, so I think he may be a swing guy. He may just play both, based on who's healthy that week, until he establishes himself at what he's better at. Brett's going to have a huge role no matter what it is, and he may have to play both."
Another player who receives numerous compliments as well from the ASU skipper is running back Cornell Canidate, who in just four games has elevated himself from third string to a starter. "Cornell is a pretty meticulous guy, he's not very outspoken, he's not out there running his mouth off all the time, and he pays attention. He tries to do things the way that Tom Nordquist (ASU's running back coach) coaches him to do it. He's picked up pass blocking, not only from an effort standpoint but also from a technique standpoint. He also has a different style of running from that of Mike or Hakim, which, we never try to change someone's running style. Cornell is a patient runner, which allows him to do a good job of getting the ball moving."
Overall, Dirk Koetter feels good about the mental state of his team going into conference play. "From my standpoint, one of our pre-season goals was to be able to win a game in the second half, now we've done that two weeks in a row. We've found that if you believe you can do it, regardless of why you're able to do it, that has carry-over effect and that 'confidence' word starts to slip in there. I think our players have confidence that they can come back, they have confidence that our defense is playing well, but also our offense makes plays when they need to make them. I think our team believes in each other, I really like this team." And it's a good thing that the Sun Devils are brimming with assertion, because according to Koetter: "We have to carry that over to Pac-10 play, because these teams are good, all of them."
Coach Koetter's Press Conference Notes
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