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Quotes from coach Dennis Erickson's weekly press conference

November 23, 2009

On who will play at Quarterback against Arizona:
“I’ll probably make a decision tomorrow. It’s kind of the same scenario as it was last week with Danny [Sullivan] and Sam[son Szakacsy]. That’s where we’re at right now.”

On what cost them last week’s game against UCLA:
“Turnovers. You can’t turn the football over like that and expect to win a game. We played awfully good on defense; that’s kind of been the story of our season. [If] you turn it over like that, 14 points on two turnovers, and steal in the ball game, and then turn it over again and again, you have no chance. So if there is one thing, that’s the thing.”

On Samson Szakacsy’s first start at Quarterback:
“It’s obvious the two mistakes that he made were costly. That’s obvious to him and that’s obvious to all of us who were at the football game a watched it. You can’t just take those two out and say ‘other than those two things you played good’, but he did do some good things; obviously he gives us some mobility and gives us the ability to make some plays down the football field. He also did that in the football game. With our offensive front as beat up as it is right now and with [Thomas] Altieri not playing, we’re going to need to have someone who can move a little bit back there and he gives us that. He threw it pretty well when he had the opportunity. I was watching the game [replay] and he was carrying the ball around when he’s running with it and that can’t happen or else they’re going to knock the thing out. So there are some things he’s got to learn, but he does have some talent athletically.”

On the graduating seniors not making it to a bowl game:
“I’m hurting bad—that’s what it’s all about. This team is all about the players and this team is all about the seniors that have been here since I’ve been here, for three years, you can go through them all and they are all guys who have contributed. Obviously our goals were quite different at the beginning of the year than what we have accomplished, but they have done a lot for this program, they have done a lot for me personally, when I came in as far as supporting everything and working their rear ends off. It’s been disappointing. I feel very, very bad for them. That’s what this is about this week—it’s about our seniors. Obviously it’s U of A, a big game, the biggest game of the year for us every year, but it’s also about the seniors.”

On Arizona Quarterback Nick Foles:
“[He is] awfully, awfully good. He gets rid of the football as well as, and as quick as, anyone that I’ve seen. [He’s] very accurate. What they do offensively fits in perfectly.  He’s had a heck of a year, obviously. When they made that change it was a big change for them, as far as moving the ball and all that. He’s a good player.”

On how he keeps players in check emotionally:
“I don’t. I want them to get emotional. This is huge for us. It’s huge for us every year. The emotions run high. I’ve been in a lot of rivalry games and that’s just how it is. They’re going to fly around and they’re going to play hard and obviously they’ve got to understand what they can and cannot do. Traditional games are like that and there will be a lot of emotion on both sides, but normally once that ball is kicked off you play football. Once that this is in the air and you start playing offense and defense and the emotional aspect is there, but it’s not like the emotion before the game.”

On how this rivalry compares to others he has been a part of in his career:
“It’s as good as any I’ve ever been around. In a state where there are two schools like this you’re either a Sun Devil or a Wildcat pretty much. It’s a typical, traditional game. When you play that game it’s bragging rights for a year. That’s what it’s about. They’re fun games to be involved in. People talk about them for 364 days and then the game comes and then they talk about it for another 364 days.”

On ASU’s 5 game losing streak:
“I think the biggest thing is when you lose close games it’s takes a toll on you a little bit, and that happened to us a couple of times in this streak, at home, where we played pretty well and didn’t come out on top. That’s probably what jumps out at me most.”

On senior Linebacker Mike Nixon:
“Of all of the seniors, and they are all good, Mike has been a leader both on and off the football field. What he does in the classroom, what he’s done for Arizona State—he’s a spokesman. There is nobody better than him and he’s played very well on the field. He’s been a leader. He’s been a mentor to a lot of our young players, the linebackers in particular, he’s kind of taken them under his wing. He’s a guy that obviously we are truly going to miss.”

On what has been most difficult about switching up starting Quarterbacks this season:
“I thought Danny [Sullivan] played well early. You know he had his ups and downs, but if we had any experience it was him. Sam[son Szakacsy] was hurt and couldn’t throw for half the season. At the end of spring Danny and he were battling, so that may have made a difference, and then Brock is just young. So you take all of those things into consideration and it kind of ends up the way it is right now.”

On senior Defensive End Dexter Davis:
“Dexter is the cornerstone of our front as far as pass rush, as far as being physical against the run. He’s probably a guy who has played more than anybody else. Dexter is not a real boisterous guy by any means he just plays by doing what he does on the field, but obviously he’s been critical in this program."

On Arizona:
“Arizona is as good a football team as there is in this league. [If] you look at them at all three phases of the game, they might be the best. When you take them on defense and what they do and what they’ve accomplished, and then on offense and what they’ve done since they made the Quarterback change, and then take their Special Teams with their Punter; if you take all three phases they are probably the most balanced team in our league. They are a football team who, outside of Iowa, could probably be undefeated. Every game has been down to the wire. We are very aware of what Coach Stoops has done there. He has done a great job with that program and they’ve got some excellent football players. They play well as a team. They play well on offense, defense and teams; so we understand what we are going up against.”

On the improvement of the Pac-10 conference in his time at ASU:
“It’s way better. The coaching is extremely good. The recruiting has been very good. The impressive thing is that you can take every team and everybody can beat everybody, and they’ve all done it. As you guys know, we play each other, you play nine games and it’s vicious. If you play a couple of outside games that are what everybody wants against good opponents, it’s hard. It’s not like it used to be. Back in the day there were always three or four teams that you felt like you were going to beat but now, that’s not the case.”

On slowing down Nick Foles in the passing game:
“You’ve gotta tackle because they throw a lot of screens; that is a huge part of their offense. He gets the ball out really quickly, it’s really hard to put a lot of blitz pressure on him because of what they do. When they get it out there we better get people to the ball. What gets lost sometimes in watching them play is they get in two tight ends a lot and they get in the eye, they aren’t always spread out and they run the football pretty well and they have a good offensive line. It’s a combination of both things. They are very, very efficient as you can tell with their stats and how many points they’ve been scoring.”

On the home field advantage:
“Playing at home is always an advantage. Hopefully [the stadium] is full of our fans, but I’ve been around rivalries where that doesn’t always happen.”

On senior Quarterback Danny Sullivan’s career at ASU:
“He’s a very stable young man [who is] very dedicated to this program, [who] sat around here for a lot of years backing up Rudy [Carpenter]. He’s always been a team guy. Even when we made the move with Brock against USC, he hasn’t complained. He’s a Sun Devil and that’s the biggest thing I’ll remember about him. That and his throw against Washington.”