Stoops on ASU

Mike Stoops is preparing for ASU. He knows what is at stake and discussed the big rivalry game, as well as what could happen with a win.

Opening Statement:
"It is a good position for us to be in after getting off to such a tough start to the season. I am pleased with the way our kids have played in the second half of the season. We have done some really good things."

"I think we are a much better team than any time since we have been here, we are much more complete than we have ever been. In this league, in any league, you have to be good in all phases. You can't play one sided games phases very much and get away with it. I don't know if we are playing great in any one particular area, but we are playing good football, not giving up big plays. We are making big plays and being consistent is what has been the difference."

" They are one of the most complete teams on both sides of the ball. They are one of the top teams. that have been solid all year, and that s why they have won nine games this year."

"They obviously didn't play their best game against USC, but I don't think that wont; have any thing to do with our team."

On Rudy Carpenter:
"He does an excellent job of making plays. When things break time he does a great job of buying time and finding receivers. I thin he is great at finding guys down the field once we breaks contain. He is a very strong arm and has great timing. He has great competitive toughness which you want in a quarterback. He is a good leader for them. He is a very complete player."

"The kid has done a nice job of protecting the football under the duress he has been under. He has been sacked more than any other quarterback. That shows you how tough physically he is, and mentally he has not thrown the ball away. He has not thrown many picks. He usually makes really good decisions with the ball."

On getting a good pass rush from the front four:
"The front four do a lot for your game plan on defense. Getting pressure with four is imperative to your success. It is something we have done a better job of. We have blitzed more of late, but if you can get a rush with four helps. If you get pressure, that is important. Any quarterback, no matter how much they play they don't get comfortable with a pass rush."

On what will it take to come out focused against ASU:
"We have to go in loose, kind of like we have the last half of the year. I think when we are more relaxed we play better. We have nothing to lose in this game. We are an underdog going on the road. We are going to play the best we can, play aggressive, that I the one thing we can control. That is not being foolish, it is just playing aggressive and calling an aggressive game. You still have to play smart, no matter what the situation, it is something we have to take chances. We are going to have to score points on the road and we are going to have to make big plays. We have shown those capabilities all year. We have to play an aggressive smart game and play well as a team."

On last year's game:
"We didn't play very well, they played well. They took it to us. We have to go up thee and play a different brand of football than a year ago. We were pretty beat up, we didn't; have the extra week. We came off three great wins, we just didn't play, we didn't; have it that day for whatever reason. A lot of it had to do with Arizona State. They came in here with a strong attitude and really took the game from start to finish."

On the rivalry:
"There is a lot of bitterness, and hatred amongst fans. It is a game that is important to our alumni and our fans and to our program." "I think we understand the importance of what it means to our school and our program. I think it is important Getting over the hump is important to us. We have been close so many times. I feel like we are getting over the hump, but we have not been able to get quite there."

"You have the rivalry and what is at stake. It makes it an interesting game for both parties."

On getting to a bowl:
"That will take care of itself. We have no chance if we don't win. If we win then we have a lot of possibilities. It is out of our hands. All we can do is win and give ourselves an opportunity."

On where beating ASU would be on the list of team priorities:
"I would think winning a championship would by somebody's No. 1 priority. Obviously winning your rival is probably helping you win a championship. It gives you a better opportunity."

"We know what we need to do to win, and they know what they need to do to win. All the other stuff is good during the week, but once the kickoff starts it is down to not hatred, not bitterness, it is about being mentally and physically ready to play and go out and execute in a tough environment."

" In a game when there is so much on the line it adds to the rivalry. Arizona State has done a good job they have a lot riding on the game, so do well. I wish we were in their position they are in. We are not. As both teams get better and stronger you hope it gets a better stronger and stronger rivalry."

On whether the Cats are bowl worthy if they win:
"I would think so. We beat how many great teams last year and there were a lot of 6-6 teams that played in bowl games last year that didn't' have near the record we did. You go 5-4 in your conference...There are teams that went 2-6 in their conference and went to bowl games. To me that is preposterous."

"Beating two top ranked teams and winning your last four says a lot for your resume. Not being to a bowl game, and hopefully I think ewe would travel well. Those things are very positive, but all of those are mute unless we win."

On Arizona's offense:
"We are still young offensively that is the biggest difference. We have an offensive system in place that will continue to improve and make us better.--the other system, we didn't feel it was the right system to have great success in this league. As much as we worked at it and our kids did some good things, I don't think that system was right for us what we needed to do to continue to have success in a big way."

"There are not a lot of teams that can line up and over power. Offensively we have made a great improvement."

On whether people were to quick to pass judgement on the staff after the 2-6 start.
"You have to look at the overall body of work and how your kids perform in a lot of different areas, but the bottom line is still winning and losing. We have done some extraordinary things when you look at beating ranked opponents and things that have not been done here for many years. The way we played as a team we have been very competitive. That tells you you have some consistency in your program and you are getting closer and closer. It takes a player here or there to get you over the hump."

"Our kids are starting to make plays an it turns things in a hurry when people really doubted anything we were doing a month ago. It gets down to confidence and making plays."

"I feel like I have done a better job the last half of a season dealing with our players and the situation we were in. It was more relaxing and not worrying about it. It is hard not to worry there are extraordinary pressure for all coaches to win and perform. Ultimately you are one guy and who has to lead in a very positive way and do the right things and good things happen."

"If it is not meant to be it is not meant to be, and not worry about it. That has been my philosophy the last half of a year. We are trying to do everything we can to put our players in the right position to win and they know it. They are very smart."

"When we started to relax as a staff they started to play better. Worrying really inhibits you in a lot of different ways."

More offense:
"I've seen this offense go very, very well. It strikes fear you. Any time we played it. I played it at Tech and they were in it for 7 years. It is as difficult preparation as you can have. You better have good people to defend it across the board. We are not to that extreme. They are working at a high level. We emphasize different things. We are a little bit different but we ultimately are working to get to that level of execution."

"I believe in a year's period of time Willie will be twice as good a quarterback as he was this year, his decision making and going back to spring and adjusting to our personnel"

On how recruiting has gone the past few weeks:
"Winning and getting to a bowl game helps. It helps the development of our players which is the biggest thing. We are in on a lot of kids, they have seen us play and they know what we are doing. They know what style of offense and defense we have played. All the kids we are recruiting know where they fit into our program. Every time you win it helps your recruiting. We have done a good job but we still have a lot of improving in that aspect. I think winning helps. People say us on a national stage. People had no idea we were that good. That is what is exciting to me. People saw from all over the country saw how close we really are and what kind of football team we have. That was a very positive experience. ESPN, there is no coverage like it. We play on it again Saturday. That will be exciting again."

(carpenter) "We have our pressures we will try to get to him with. They run the ball extremely well you can't go crazy blitzing them. You have to be calculated just like any other game plan and take you chances when you can." On ASU surrendering a lot of sacks:
"They have big offensive line and are physical players. Protection is a lot of things, it could be backs, it could be receivers it could be the quarterback not making good decisions .It is all 11. You can never put it all on an offensive line. It is based on 11 people doing hat they are supposed to do."

"Trust me those guys are very capable of protecting the quarterback. They have done a good job."

You can't get hung up on just trying to get to the quarterback. You have to do a lot of things well, and it all starts with the run game." they ran and play action really hurt us."

ASU's defense:
"That is the group I have been the most intrigued by. that have done a great job of playing good team defense. Up until last year they have played consistent all year."

On playing relaxed:
"It is playing aggressively and not worry about the outcome and worry about how we play. things could not get much worse than they were. Sometimes you bottom out and you come back to the top. I have always felt I could coach in a particular area. I am just one person. I need great assistants. I feel like w have great assistants who have done a terrific job. It has not been easy. It is very competitive right now."

"We never had an easy stretch to get the confidence and sometimes you have to make your own breaks and that is what we started to do. That is when we stopped worrying about everybody else and started worrying about ourselves and make some plays. that has been the difference. Kids are starting to make plays."

"I am obviously very intense in practice and games, but those things I feel you have to have to be good. my attention to detail is probably the reason I have this opportunity. those are messages I relay to my coaches and players every day. Those are things you have to have. how you do that, everyone has a different way of doing that. I was created a certain way just like you were. that s how it is. you try to manage your own and who you are the best way to help your kids."

"We got to the point we had nothing to lose and we started to play and started to make plays. We are still in that situation."

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