"Team Hurting" Following The UNC Loss

ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter talks about the mood of his squad following Saturday's defeat, as well as several positives and negatives that came out of the North Carolina game.

No game balls are given in a loss. Instead, Koetter announced that the players of the week are Skyler Fulton on offense, and R.J. Oliver on defense and special teams. The captains for the upcoming Oregon State game are Oliver, Mike Karney, and Jason Shivers. Grayling Love graded the highest out of all players. Koetter said that despite the loss, the North Carolina match was an "Excellent College Football game. I give North Carolina credit. Our team is hurting. We need to look at the film and learn from our mistakes, and get healthy. Players are usually more resilient than coaches, and they're hurting."

On the injury front, Koetter mentioned the following: Canidate's status is still uncertain, and more will be known on Tuesday. Brett Hudson should be OK for this week. He injured his hand, came back in, and re-aggravated the injury. Bates, Aguilar, and Ayala will all be back this week. Ayala's return is huge because he can play both tackle and guard, and will allow for more rotation along the offensive line. Montesanto will be back after suffering an ankle injury and a concussion during the game. Thrower and Niko will still be out for this week.

There were some positives the ASU skipper took away from the game. "I liked the way we competed. We very very physical, and we did a good job hitting. I never felt that: Here We Go Again…What Else Can We Screw Up? attitude. The mood on the sideline was outstanding and positive. I never had that feeling last year. We came from behind twice this year to win, and we had six lead changes on Saturday. Those are signs of a good, but young team. But it's hard to overcome 5-10 in the red zone."

While the loss to the Tar Heels "stings", it's a non-conference one that hasn't jeopardized the bigger picture. "We have a lot of goals in front of us. The conference is up for grabs. Just look at Cal's win over Washington." The biggest lesson learned from this loss was "How the little things can lead up to a big thing…we know we can beat anyone in this conference, and we also know that we can come out and play like we did against North Carolina. It seems that every Pac-10 team has the same issues we do, we just need to continue and compete and stay healthy."

When pinning down the reasons for the defeat, The ASU coach mentioned that: "We let too many opportunities go by. We had turnovers everywhere. We weren't able to finish a lot of drives in the red zone. That's what we did well against Stanford. Going 5-10 in the red zone getting only 35 points - that's the whole game right there. First seven drives we had two touchdowns, one punt, and four opportunities in the red zone that weren't converted. In the Red Zone you want to score a touchdown, you don't mention a field goal because that's automatic. It wasn't automatic last night. It's great to get to the end zone ten times, but when you don't convert all your chances, you can have over 600 yards on offense and still lose the game."

Koetter went on to talk about the performance on defense and special teams. "We didn't have the 3-1 ration on defense (3 big plays to one big play of the opposing offense). We couldn't execute basic stuff. The two long touchdowns we gave up were reminisced of the Washington game last year. We didn't finish the job defensively…. watching tape of special teams – three of our punt returns were a whisker away from going long. On one punt coverage, a guy came free to block their punt, and didn't because he didn't use proper technique (pointing his arms upward, instead of downward.)"

The visitors' defense didn't make things any easier for ASU. "North Carolina on defense matches personnel to your offense. In the first six drives we saw six different coverages. They gave us a lot of looks, and keyed off their free safety (Dexter Reid). We were able to run the ball when he played up. When our running backs made a cut back, he wasn't here. When they played two-deep zone, we were able to hit Fulton. "

The game of Football is an on going chess match between the two opposing coaches, who engage in several counter tactical maneuvers. That aspect, according to Koetter, has been handled well by his squad. "We had good adjustments. Can't do stuff that you didn't practice, especially with a young team. With all that we got 34 first downs and tons of yards."

Lastly. The ASU Coach was full of praise for his signal caller Andrew Walter. "I'm very pleased with Andrew Walter. On his first interception, we should have kept running the ball - I like to go for the knockout…it was a late throw on a corner route, and the defensive player made a play. He could have thrown it better, and I could have called it better. The second interception he threw behind Fulton…for as little of Football that he has played, he has played very well for us. He played well enough for us to win. The missed field goals weren't his fault. The fumbles (by other players) weren't his fault. The North Carolina defense gave him the most coverages to read out of any team. The coverage dictates where you're gonna throw the ball, and they did a good job mixing coverages. We had to run multi purpose routes, and pick a side to throw to based on their free safety. The defense forces the decision by the quarterback, and he has to make a quick decision. He made some bad decisions throwing into triple coverage, but he threw it well to the receivers, and they made good plays…"I'm very happy with his leadership, poise, demeanor and the ability to make adjustments."

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