There was a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye. Arizona head coach John Mackovic had just finished watching his Wildcats beat archrival ASU 34-21. The team sung Bear Down and then the Wildcat coach met with the media obviously pleased with a 1-0 record over the Sun Devils.
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Question: How good does this win feel?
John Mackovic: "It's a great way for our seniors to go out. We offer congratulations to them. So many of them were in the lineup today and played big parts in the game. Malosi Leonard caught a touchdown pass. Brandon Nash intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. Anthony Thomas playing up in the line, he played with a bad ankle for seven or eight games – unbelievable, was his fortitude to come back every week and play and get ready to go. Steven Grace at left guard, the way he blocked and got in front of so many runs today. And then in the secondary, guys like Jermaine Chatman, they burned him for one and yet they came back again and he didn't give them, they went for the corner and he didn't give them. Tony Banks got in there and he played. Just all of them. I was just very pleased for them."
Question: Does this win give you any momentum for next season.
Mackovic: "For our underclassmen I'm extremely pleased because it's a great start for 2002. It gives them a good feeling and a good taste. That's the one thing about a rivalry like this, someone goes home and it hurts. I know they will feel it for a whole year and they'll be ready for us."
Question: The offense played rather well against ASU. Are you satisfied with the output?
Mackovic: "There were so many superlatives. We needed big guys, players making big time plays and they did it. Jason Johnson was so good. The only interception he threw was not a good play, he was looking for something and didn't get it and tried to throw the ball away and they got it. HE hit Bobby Wade early and often and Clarence Farmer had 100 yards rushing at halftime and that was great for us."
Question: How important was it to get out to the early lead?
Mackovic: "We knew we had to get out early. This is a team that we were playing that really likes to get out fast on teams. And they were also, I didn't realize it, they're the second highest scoring team in the second half in the country so we knew that in the third quarter we had to come back out. We were able to raise our level in the first quarter, third quarter and then the fourth quarter what we needed to do."
Question: What was you reaction to the post game shenanigans at mid field?
Mackovic: "I was disappointed, and I told the team that, we didn't act a little bit better upon winning the game. To be the best, and we want our program to be the best or among the best, you have to learn to lose with dignity and you have to learn to win with a certain class, a certain feeling. And I expressed that to members of Arizona State and it's a great rivalry. I don't ever want it to be less than that. I want it to be a great rivalry for those reasons. I was disappointed that the altercation broke out on the field and everything. We were jumping up and down on their logo (painted in the center of the field), and of course their players took exception to that. And I can understand that."