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Coach Erickson discusses match against Oregon


September 21, 2010

Statement on Oregon:
“To me they may be the best football team in the country. When you look at them on both sides of the football and their kicking game. They are so balanced. You can not decide what their strengths are. Offensively, it is hard to gain that many yards – I don’t care who your playing. They’re just so explosive. Their offensive front are all returning from last year. [They’re] a pretty experienced team.

"Their running back LaMichael James and [Kenjon] Barner are guys that quick strike on you all the time. I’ve never seen a team offensively that gets more big plays in their running game than the University of Oregon has this year and a year ago. Chip Kelly has done a wonderful job with them and they got great skill outside.

"Their quarterback [Darron] Thomas is playing really well. Obviously their running game is their strength, but when you force him to keep and throw it he’s awfully good. He’s faster than Massoli was in my opinion, but Massoli was a different kind of runner, but he is a better thrower.

"They got all the tools. It’s amazing to watch them play. The thing that they are underrated in, and that I’ve gotten in watching them, is that they are extremely athletic on defense. They have a number of starters back along with great speed. Very athletic, they kind of get lost in the offensive success that they’ve had, but they extremely good on defense. [Defensive coordinator] Nick Aliotti does a great job with them and he has been there for a long time. They’ll bring it a lot. We’ll see a lot of blitz from them.

"They have extremely good athletes [Spencer] Paysinger is an outstanding linebacker they got all those guys back from the last couple of years. [Casey] Matthews is returning so, they’re an extremely good defensive football team and they’ve scored points in the kicking game also punt returns and kickoff returns. They are about as balanced of a football as I’ve seen in a long time.

"Like I said, they are so explosive offensively. Take the Tennessee game, for example. They were down and they hand the ball off to LaMichael James and he goes to the right, changes to the left and scores a touchdown. They are a very talented football team. We have our hands full on both sides of the ball and with that comes a challenge. A challenge we are looking forward to, a challenge to play at home. Having played at Oregon over the years and the experience we felt in Wisconsin, the fans make a huge difference. You get those people excited during the football game and it can cause motivation for our players and a distraction for the opponent.

"Hopefully we have a heck of a crowd this week so we can get the place rocking and use it as an advantage.”

On Brandon Magee injury:
“He’s fine. They thought it was a sprained ankle but it turned out it was a pulled muscle in the back of his leg. He came back in and played and could of played more, but he’ll be back and ready to play tomorrow.”

On Arizona State’s speed versus Oregon’s speed:
“[Oregon’s] has been proven over a period of time with the points they’ve scored. We’ve got team speed. We’re faster than we were.  Is that as fast as Oregon? I don’t know? We had some opportunities to break something the other day that was there and we just didn’t quite get it done. To me, Oregon and Arizona are the two fastest teams in our league.”

On Steven Threet’s performance:
“I thought he did well. He made some good decisions. I thought he through it accurately and had great composure in the game. He got hit numerous times. [Hit] in the head a lot of times. He just kept coming back. He showed a lot of toughness and leadership, which is what that position is all about. He’ll get better too. The thing about Steven is, he’s just getting the feel for what’s going on. I just like his feeling for the game. His commitment to the game, his commitment to his teammates. That’s what you need at that position and he’s doing what we ask.”

On George Bell:
“George really stepped forward in this game. Obviously he had a chance to make a play early in the end zone and didn’t. After that he really came in and made some plays. It’s good to see him get better in that football game. He hasn’t had a lot of chances. He had a turf toe problem for the last month. I thought he stepped up and played pretty good.”

On the kicking game:
“Obviously our kick-off returns, the coaches have done a good job. Jamie [Christian] and [Greg] Burns run the kick-off aspect of our special teams. It was blocked very well and we have some guys back there that can hit a seam and get going. Omar [Bolden] is in there playing a lot and he gives you some stuff. Punt return, Jamal Miles is pretty exciting. He’s shifty but he’s a straight-ahead person. You have to make one or two cuts and take it. And he was able to do that. He made a great run on the one that was called back on a block in the side. He took it and then he made a couple other ones that were pretty exciting to see. We had some penalties we have to clip. Unfortunately on return teams that’s going to happen just because you have guys coming full speed and you’re backing up. Obviously disappointment with missing the one field goal and getting the PAT blocked. That shouldn’t happen, but that happened unfortunately. I like where we’re at on special teams. We have a lot of depth on special teams. That’s exciting and we have to continue to get better and better.”

On defensive preparations for Oregon:
“There are some kind of similarities [to Oregon’s offense]. We’re a different kind of spread teams. They are going to run the football. That’s what they do. They are going to run the option with that kid. I mean its option football, that’s what it is. The no huddle aspect [is similar]. Spreading them out at the line, that will help. The screen type pass that we run, that will help. The difference is dealing with the option. The reading and the discipline that you have to have. We run the football to give it to our backs but we do it different ways than they do. Who’s got the quarterback? Don’t get too concentrated on one thing or another? Obviously we can’t let them hand it off and have them go 60 yards every play. We are facing a whole different deal now.”