On his thoughts about his highly rated and veteran defense
"'We do have a lot of guys that are here and that have played for us. Really they have played three good games, even though we got thumped at Cincinnati. I thought they were a lot of good defensive moments in that game. Now going into the Pac-10 schedule, it's really important for us to continue to take that experienced group and bring stability to this team and keep getting better as we go."
On how much his system on both sides of the ball is similar to that of Dennis Erickson
"You guys will probably note some similarities on defense, with Craig (Bray) being the coordinator there, and with our kind of carryover with what Craig and the guys did here (when Erickson coached Oregon State a few years back) and what we're doing now, I think you'll see quite a few similarities structurally defensively."
"Offensively, probably the same thing. They (ASU) may do one more thing than we do, we might do a little more of something else…but I think we both want to run the football which is pretty obvious, and then take our opportunities to stretch the field."
On what are his impressions are of what Erickson is doing now in his first year at ASU. Is it the same Dennis Erickson or are there any new wrinkles?
"They're always new wrinkles that are going on. I think it's already obvious that he's impacting Arizona State football. The team looks good, plays hard, well-coached and very impressive. They have three solid wins coming out of the gate. So it's gonna be a very tough game."
On getting back WR Sammie Stroughter in the lineup and his impact on the team
"It's great having Sammie back. First of all, just for the personal (reasons) and because of the fact that he felt better about being able to play and go to school this year. I didn't think either one of those things was going to happen a few weeks ago. For Sammie I think it's awesome and I think it's great for our team and for what we're searching now – that chemistry in our receiving core that we weren't able to work with during fall camp."
"I think it was just one of those things that happens in football, whether it be by injury or a situation like this that you just have to deal with. But it did set us back finding that chemistry, timing and all that stuff that you need to work together as a group. I think it's absolutely great seeing him play football out there for the Beavers."
On how he would assess the progress of his QB Sean Canfield
"It was nice getting production throwing the football last week. We had very little production in the first two games that was worth noting. It's hard for us to play unbalanced like that (i.e. running the ball more than passing it). We realize that we have to prove that we can do that against Pac-10 opponents and better competition. But I think it was good to get some production, get some plays going in the passing game and I think it will help his confidence and growth."
On what his biggest concern is coming into this Pac-10 opener
"When you look at the details of the time frame that we're in and I think we're playing a very physical defensive team. I think they lead the Pac-10 in defense right now. So obviously moving the ball and scoring some points against them is gonna be a big chore."
"Just in general picking up the whole football team, offense, defense, special teams into Pac-10 play and competing at that level and being able to win, is what we're looking to do and what's real important coming into the first Pac-10 game."
On how he prepares defensively for ASU's running game
"It's a great running game and it's physical. They're doing a nice job and it lends a great balance to their offense. You know what you have to be able to do, is to defend the run the best you can and still be able to cover the pass, and put those two things together and that's what makes it tough to play against a balanced football team."
On whether Erickson's presence on the other sideline makes this a more special game for him
"All these games are huge. I was excited for Dennis getting the Arizona State job and now that he'll do a good job which will be tough for all of us. I have a lot respect for him and really like him. Of course he has a history with Oregon State and has done a great job here. I guess in those regards it makes it for the people outside very special, but I don't know if it matters a lot to Dennis and I."
Mike Riley Press Conference Quotes
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