Coach Jim Mora was asked about Marks suggestion that UCLA players were trying to act tough by running warm up drills on the WSU side of the field last Saturday night. It was the second consecutive year that Marks (and others) have seen Bruin players disregard common courtesy by splitting the field in half for warm ups and game preparations.
“He’s obviously misinformed,” said a fiery Mora. “There’s a certain protocol that’s in place for pre-game warmups and we follow it every week. Players don’t know that kind of stuff. He’s just misinformed and that’s not his fault he’s misinformed. There’s no way he would know that.”
Next, Mora was asked to comment about UCLA assistant Kennedy Polamalu saying there was an issue with WSU players who were warming up on the Bruin side of the field.
“It doesn’t matter. Pre-game was pre-game. There were no issues in pre-game. They came out on the field and went to their side and we were on our side. Everyone followed protocol. I don’t see any issues and he’s (Marks) obviously misinformed, but it’s not his fault he’s misinformed. A player wouldn’t know that. It’s a non-issue. It doesn’t matter."
Wazzu head man Mike Leach was asked how WSU deal with the blitzing style of the Sun Devils?
“They’ve always blitzed quite a bit. They blitz a little less this year than last year. You just have to hang on and do the best you can. The biggest thing is that they’re really quick. They react quickly. You have to sort it out fast, but they do bring a lot of people from different places."
What was Leach's reaction after the win last Saturday at home over UCLA?
“We beat them at the Rose Bowl the year before and we figured we’d beat them here. There were things we could have improved on, but anytime you beat UCLA – they’re a tough team – we’re happy that we beat them. We played well, especially on defense. We could have finished the game better.”
WSU is No. 2 in the Pac-12 in time of possession this season. What do you attribute that to?
“I don’t take any satisfaction out of (that). I really don’t care about time of possession. I’d like to have the most plays, most first downs and I’d like to be better at third down conversions. If you score quickly and get extra points that can throw a kink in that. Points are the most important, but I think (number of plays, first downs and third down conversions) are more important stats. We don’t mind having the ball. We’d rather have it the whole time if we could.”
With Erik Powell converting both his field goal attempts last game that was decided by six points, do you think that will boost his confidence as well as the whole kicking unit?
“I hope so. The thing is, in practice he’s been striking it extremely well. Any time he kicks an extra point he just one-steps it, gets it gets really high and it goes 50-yards. He just needs to remain consistent at that and he’s certainly capable of it. It’s was frustrating for him early on and it’s good to see him get rolling.”
Opposing teams seem to be having some success throwing the ball against the Arizona State defense this season. Coach Todd Graham was asked what he attributed that to?
“There’s a lot of factors. It’s something we’ve got better at. We’ve played two of the top passing offenses in the country so that’s where a lot of those stats came from. Our guys have got better each week. A lot of it is that we’re young in the back end and there were a lot of coverage mistakes. We’re blitzing less so we’re doing more coverage. We had some errors like that. There’s a lot of factors but it’s something we’ve gotten better at.”
WSU is one of the best in the Pac-12 at converting third downs yet continue to go for it on fourth down more than anyone else. Does that effect coach Graham's play calling on defense?
“It doesn’t. The whole key is you’re trying to get one-and-outs, two-and-outs, three-and-outs and four-and-outs. What we call “cash downs”, third downs and fourth downs, (those) are the downs that if you can be successful at you can get great field position.”
What makes Tim White such a top flight receiver and how important is he to ASU's team?
“Tim is a phenomenal young man. Great character. Unbelievable work ethic and a tremendously gifted athlete. Went to the Olympic trials in the triple jump. Just a better person and incredible leader. He’s one of our captains.”
“He runs with the ball like he’s angry. I’ve never had a receiver that has the competitiveness he has when he has the ball in his hands.”
Graham was asked to explain how WSU got so good at defending the run all of the sudden?
“I love their effort and how they’ve got those guys playing. They are very disruptive up front. They use a lot of movement. They’re just playing with a lot of passion, playing with a lot of energy. You can tell they’ve been in the system. This is the second year in their system. They really are believing in what they’re doing. They’re a big challenge for us.”
Has ASU's head coach heard much chatter about Alex Grinch in coaching circles?
“I think he’s done a fabulous job and I’ve watched him. Obviously, I’m a defensive-minded coach and I think he’s done one of the best jobs in the conference. He’s been outstanding.”
What impresses Graham the most about Luke Falk?
“Probably his poise and his patience. He’s very, very patient and he doesn’t get rattled. Very tough. A guy that can take some shots. Great decision making. He’s a real master and has a mastery of the offense.”