Erickson, Sun Devil Players Quotes

Erickson was happy to have his mother in attendance in the Oregon State game. Yet, when his team was down 19-0, he quipped that maybe his mother wasn't a good omen after all, and early return home to Everett, Wash. may be in order. All well ends well, as Mrs. Erickson got to watch her son remain undefeated with the Sun Devils.

"They came out and played well. You have to give Oregon State credit," said Erickson. "They're a good football team and you'll find that out as time goes on. Their back is good; their defense is solid against the run. When you turn it over like they did…we had a big play to make it 19-7 and again at the end of the half we're able to score again and that made a big difference. Our guys just hung in there…"

Erickson added that his offense constantly getting into third and long situations made it hard on the offensive line to protect the quarterback. Eventually, the protection in the second half did improve.

ASU's head coach remarked that the Oregon State defense dictated his offense to throw the ball. Signal Caller Rudy Carpenter was able to make many scrambling plays which helped keep drives alive, as well as score touchdowns. "They were plays where he scrambled around and made some huge plays," Erickson stated. "The one to Mike Jones, the first touchdown…I wish I can say that we called that and that we're brilliant human beings, but as we know he just made a play. He made a lot of plays."

The Sun Devil defense settled down after the first quarter, giving no TD's in the second quarter, one in the third, and one meaningless score with less than a minute left in the game. Just like the offense, halftime adjustments once again played a major role. "We had five interceptions, and when you get five interceptions you have a chance to win," said Erickson. "The thing we were able to do is to stop Yvenson (Bernard) and force them to throw the football. When we got ahead by a point, and then by eight points they were forced to throw and that's not what they want to do."

Spearheading the defensive efforts was linebacker Robert James with nine tackles and two interceptions. Erickson didn't spare any compliments regarding the team's best defensive player this season. "What can you say, he's playing as good as any linebacker I've had and I had some decent ones over the years," Erickson commented. "He makes a lot of plays for us and is the catalyst of what we do out there defensively. I thought we played good in the second half. They were throwing the bubble screen for 10 yards a crack for a while there and finally we made an adjustment to that. Finally we made them throw down the football field, which is a little bit tougher."

Safety Troy Nolan was another standout defenseman on Saturday having two interceptions, and overall having a solid 2007 campaign himself. "He's getting interceptions, he's getting turnovers," said Erickson. "He's a nice junior college transfer that came in, sat out (due to injury) and learned like a lot of them do over the years. He's just playing real well. He's a playmaker and you have to have playmakers there at safety because of the zone coverages we play – those guys are freed up a lot. He's made a lot of plays."

Erickson said that with Oregon State's bump and press coverage in the secondary, he believed that the ASU receivers would be able to make plays down the field. Then again, a lot of the offense's big plays were scrambles and not a case of the quarterback staying within the pocket. "We got the back down the middle, which is designed play that we worked on during the week because of the coverage," said Erickson of the substantial gains Ryan Torain was able to get in the passing game, "and that ended up making us look brilliant."

Cornerback Justin Tryon started the game returning kickoffs and after a couple of reps he was replaced by receiver Rudy Burgess. Erickson claimed that this wasn't an indictment on the corner, but rather the belief that Burgess is the best man for this task.

"We think Burgess is an excellent kickoff guy – he's always has been. But he has been hurt all the time," Erickson noted. "He was hurt this week in practice, so we didn't put him in the first time…I thought our kickoff coverage was real good."

Wide receiver Mike Jones turned in another spectacular game. Erickson said that the fact that Jones plays baseball in the spring doesn't allow him to be in shape in the off-season, which puts him behind. "I think he's finally maybe seeing that maybe football is his sport," said Erickson. "He's a tall guy that can make some plays and he does that."

Mike Jones claimed after the game that he had more fun at the Baseball College World Series in Omaha three months ago than he is now, but a trip to the Rose Bowl could change that notion. One thing that is crystal clear to him is that his play, as well as the play of his unit, is light years ahead of the 2006 season. "We were all young," he said. "We didn't really get that much experience, but last year was a lesson. This year we stepped it up and had a plan. We had to get the respect of everyone in the Pac-10."

Not only are he and the Sun Devils getting respect, but they also got revenge for the loss to the Beavers last year. "For me, I just wiped out last year's game until we had to prepare for it this year," Jones stated. "We saw a couple of clips from last year's game and we were just absolutely terrible. I don't know about the defense or anything, but we were absolutely terrible in the rain and the cold. No one made any plays and we had a lot of injuries. This year in the back of our heads we had payback. We showed it tonight."

It was the proverbial ‘been there-done that' for Rudy Carpenter and his teammates, when they were down 19-0 to Oregon State. It was a carbon copy, sans the score, of the Colorado contest where the maroon and gold spotted the visitors two touchdowns.

"In both those games the points we gave away were just because of turnovers and we were killing ourselves really," said Carpenter. "We knew that our defense was going to stop them eventually and we just had to score some points which is really what we did later in the game."

"College football is a crazy game but coming back, like coming back from the Colorado game 14-0 was going to play a huge dividend coming in the season and this was the first game where that really showed. I think coming back this week is going to be huge again going against the rest of the Pac-10. Every Pac-10 team is good and it's hard to come back from a 19-0 deficit, but we did it and we won pretty convincingly."

And just like the Colorado game, Carpenter threw an early interception that led to an opponent's score, but didn't translate to the demise of the Sun Devils. "Interceptions are going to happen. Turnovers are going to happen," Carpenter remarked. "The interception I had, if I had a split second more to throw it I would have had a touchdown, but I got hit and those things happen. You can do one of two things, you can go in the tank or you can try to bring your team back. Being the leader of the team I have to stay poised and come back. I think it's all just a part of what goes on. I think this is my 22nd start or something like that so you just live and learn."

Unlike previous wins, the running game for ASU did struggle, albeit because of the opponent's defensive prowess. "I think coming into the game Oregon State was only giving up about sixty something yards a game rushing so we knew they were going to have a good rushing defense," Carpenter explained. "Part of our plan was to throw the ball. Obviously anytime we can get our run game going we want to do that but we couldn't so we threw it tonight. It's just part of the game. We had made some big plays later in the game in the run but overall it was good."

ASU's offensive line pass protection was shaky at times in the first half, but adjustments weren't really the course of action taken to remedy this deficiency. "We didn't change protection we just made sure everyone knew their assignments and knew what they were doing," said Carpenter. "We weren't exactly sure what they were going to do to us pressure-wise and we saw throughout the first half what they do. We didn't change anything we just made sure the guys knew their assignments and who they had to block. Once we did that we were fine."

Many of the ASU's signal caller's big plays came on a scramble and throws on the run. "I'm pretty comfortable with it," Carpenter noted. "It's something that's a part of my game. I think it's huge because the defense thinks they have you down and you can make a big play on the run. I think it really kills the defense and overall I feel comfortable doing it."

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