Sun Devils on football media day

August 3, 2008

Graduate QB Rudy">">... Carpenter:
On his weight this year compared to last year:
"Last year I never used to eat right. Now, I eat healthy and work out a lot. Last season I played at 205 pounds, and right now I'm 225, so I put on about 20 pounds. Hopefully it will help me through the long haul this season. I thought I was a little small at 205 and I worked out a little bit toward the end of the year, and I felt that if I put on some weight and muscle, I could maybe last a little longer and be stronger towards the end of the season. So, that's pretty much my goal."

On the wide receivers:
"I think our wideouts are probably the most talented group we have on the team. Obviously, Mike Jones and Chris">">Chris McGaha are our proven guys who made a lot of plays for us. I think Kerry">">Kerry Taylor is going to have a really good year this year. He has worked hard and he's good. Kyle">">Kyle Williams is another guy who has had a great summer and is going to really help us this year. Also, our freshman, Gerell">"... Robinson, is the guy who is the most ready to play. He spent a lot of time with us in the off-season and I think he will make a difference for us this year."
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On the coach spreading things out more this season:
"I think it will really help us out. Like I said, we need to have all those guys in the field, like those wideouts because they're our best group. We can't have them sitting on the bench and I think if we can just get the ball in my hands and get it to those guys fast and let them make plays, that will be a key in our passing game and help from people blitzing us so much."

On avoiding blitzing this year:
"It's hard to make a big play when you're going through short routes and you have to get it out. I'm more worried about doing what is best for our team and helping the team out, so if they have to get it out of my hand, then that is what I am going to do."

On the high expectations:
"To be honest, I don't really know. I do know we are ranked No. 16 in the coaches' poll and No. 2 in the Pac-10, but expectations are expectations. I expect to have our team win as many games as we can. All the expectations will take care of themselves at the end of the year. I think we just have to be worried about taking one game at a time."

On the stretch of playing highly ranked teams:
"Part of me loves it, because it will be a great opportunity for us as a university and as a football team to show what we can do against some of the best teams in the country. We are going to be in front of the national media, which is going to get us out there even more than last year, if we can do well. Then again it's pretty rough, because we have Georgia, Cal, USC and Oregon all in row and two of those four are on the road. So, that can be a pretty difficult stretch if you don't take care of things, because we could be hurting by that time of year."

On how a kicker like Thomas">">Th... Weber affects the offense:
"It's unbelievable. Thomas is really a huge asset to our team because we can put points on the board from all over the field. He really helped us out last year, because we had trouble scoring sometimes, so it is great having a good kicker and it is great having faith in a kicker."

On the new wrinkles put in offensively:
"I think they will help, hopefully. We'll find out when we start practice tomorrow. As soon as we start playing against our defense we'll see if it is going to help us out. But, I think if we can run those new things we put in effectively; it will slow down some teams from really blitzing us like they did last year."

On staying in Tempe for preseason practices:
"I think it will be better, because we have all of our facilities here: technology for film, our weight room and our training facilities for when guys get hurt. We don't have all that stuff up there, so I think it makes it a lot easier being here and it's more convenient. Guys get more rest and sleep better without all the traveling. It will at least help make guys more enthusiastic during camp when it starts to get hard and we'll be better because of that."

On the comfort level of being under Coach Erickson for the second year:
"I think we just know what to expect from the coaching staff. We know how they are, how they run practices and do everything on and off the field. They also know how we are. We all have a better feel for how things go and obviously it's much different than from when Coach Koetter was here and we're all adjusted to that. We've adjusted to the new teams on offense and defense and I think the second year will be better than the first year."

On his consecutive start streak:
"It means a lot to me actually because it's rare that people start a lot of consecutive games. For a couple reasons, people always want somebody else and on top of that, injuries can happen, so I'm thankful and I'm grateful that I have had the opportunity to play a lot of games and I have been healthy to do that. I also know that experience usually helps a lot throughout the course of the season, especially at my position."

Junior LB Mike">">Mike Nixon
On using the same base team defense, with a few wrinkles added:
"The less you blitz, the better off you are. You're a little more sound across the board. If our front four can get pressure and we can sit seven deep, then that's going to be great for our pass defense. It's when teams keep six or seven in, that's where we can get creative and find new ways to get pressure. We're going to put a couple of blitzes in. Were definitely going to blitz and if we're having trouble getting pressure then were going to create a little more. Hopefully our front four, especially with our ends, will be able to minimize that as much as possible."

On the progression of the linebackers unit:
"Spring helped quite a bit. Robert">">Ro... James did a lot of the blitzing for us last year and we need somebody to step up and fill that whole; be able to get pressure and create movement in the pocket. If we can't find that in the fall, then were just going to have to find another way to get pressure."

On who he sees replicating the job Robert">">Ro... James did last year:
"A couple of the young guys with Ryan">">Ryan McFoy and Oliver">">Ol... Aaron. They really have that burst that Robert had. They just got to be a little more consistent throughout fall camp and they will be able to help us out a lot come fall."

Graduate DT David">">David Smith
On what he has seen so far from fellow DT Jonathan"> English:
"So far over summer, he is making all the times. Jon is fast and he should help us, but he has a lot of things he needs to work on; like being disciplined and taking it all in. He's also still young too, but he should help us a lot."

On the defensive tackle position:
"Usually you know before the play if you're going to be doubled team or not, just by playing a shade or a 3. It's tough, but at times you have to make a play and you'll find a way to do it. Hopefully, I can make some this year."

On how he progressed with the playing time he received last year:
"Most of it is experience with the speed of the game. When you got a 12-play drive compared to a 3-play drive, it's a lot different and it got me ready for my senior year. I just can't wait and those long plays won't even hurt me with the experience."

On the competition for the other defensive tackle spot:
"There's a lot of talk about who is going to fill the left side and whose going to back me up on my side. There are no spots right now and I'm even fighting for a spot."

Quotes from coach Dennis Erickson on football media day

August 3, 2008

Opening Comments:
"This is always an exciting time for everybody in college football. Everybody is undefeated. You get a chance to talk about what's going to happen in the future. It's a fun time. For me, it's as fun as there is. There's nothing like college football, the anticipation, what TV game is on, who's going to win the national championship, who's going to go to the Rose Bowl and all those different things. That's what makes it such a great sport. This is a great time. We're excited about our football team. We've got a lot of returners back in a lot of different areas, and we've got a lot of areas where we've got to have people step up and where we're going to be very young. I don't know that it's unlike any year that you're going to have. You're going to have people coming back and experience, and you're going to have inexperience. To me, it's a matter of how you come together, what happens during two-a-days, what happens in the fall, injuries, who steps up and all those different things. We had a very good summer, from what I understand, as far as the offseason workouts. That's how it is anymore. It's an all-around, every-month, everyday job anymore. There is no time off. Our guys spent a lot of time here with our strength coach and did a lot of things on their own. Hopefully it pays off for them."

On if having a full recruiting season helps in closing the gap with USC:
"We'll continue to close that gap. We've had good players here, as I've said many times. Coach [Dirk] Koetter did an outstanding job recruiting here. We're continuing to do that. We're going to be very young at some positions. Our recruiting class that we got a year ago, we're going to have a lot of those guys playing, particularly in the offensive line. This class coming in, it's good on paper. They're all good on paper, but we'll find out tomorrow exactly where they're at. We feel very good about some of those young guys. We really think that they can help us this year, but that remains to be seen. Where we're at right now, we won't know until we start. You don't know how good you are until you start playing. A lot of times it takes three or four games to even find out where you're at. Sometimes it takes longer than that." Download Full Image

On the importance of having an experienced quarterback like Rudy">">... Carpenter:
"Having an experienced quarterback is huge. There's no question about it. Quarterback is a very key position. Is it the total answer? Obviously it's not the total answer, but it's nice to have a guy like Rudy [Carpenter] coming back who's played as many games as he's played. There's nothing like playing. You can have a guy that's very talented, and there are a lot of them in our league, and a lot of new ones in our league that are going to be playing, but there's nothing like having that experience on the football field. With Rudy coming back, I feel very good about that aspect of it. Not only has he played a lot; he's been very successful. He's a guy we're depending on. He's been a real leader for us since he's been here. He's been a real leader this summer for us, as far as organizing the things that needed to get done. We're very fortunate."

On if he expects Carpenter to improve in his second year in this offensive system:
"I certainly hope so. I expect him being in our offense for a year and understanding what we want. We're adding some things too that will really help him, in my opinion. We're a little different team offensively, just because of our personnel, than we were a year ago. Just the experience of the rush, getting the football off on time when people are in your face, getting hit in the mouth - which he did a number of times - all that really makes a big difference."

On going to Camp Tontozona for only one day this season:
"I don't know if it's an advantage or a disadvantage. We made a decision a year ago that we were going to get a new facility here. It has nothing to do with Tontozona at all. It's about our indoor facility. We really feel that we'll have one of the best indoor facilities in the country. It wasn't just about that. It was about being to work in there in the summer time, being able to work in there in the winter, being able to work in there in the heat, not just during training camp, but during the season when we need to. That is such a plus. When you look inside of it and go inside of it, we've got so much room, more than any of the places I've been, as far as practice facilities are concerned. It's going to be a huge advantage for us. So in saying that, there was no reason for us to go up there because of weather. There's an advantage to staying at home, as far as facilities, film work, our own weight room and all those different things. Tontozona has been great for this program over the years, and it was great for us last year. It doesn't have to anything to do with wanting to go up there or not; it's just our new facility."

On if he has ever faced a four-game stretch like the Georgia-Cal-USC-Oregon stretch this season:
"No, I don't believe we have. I try to put those memories behind me, if we have. That's tough. You look at our schedule, we play Northern Arizona [on Aug. 30] - Michigan-Appalachian State. Coach [Jerome] Souers has done a great job up there, and they've got a great opportunity to come down here. I've been on both ends of that. Stanford, to me, is huge, that's our first league game at home. You can go on and on. It's a tough stretch, there's no question about it. The thing about schedules is, and I've grown to live with this the last four or five months, the schedule is the schedule and you go play it. You play them when they're there and just go play them."

On being the only team in the country with both No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 USC on the schedule:
"I knew they'd be on top, and I knew we'd play them both. You knew what it was going to be like. Those are two great programs, and we just happened to play both of them. We happen to play both of them again next year, so that's just how it is."

On what he feels is the biggest question mark about this team:
"We've got to establish our offensive front. There's no question about that. We're going to be young. In talking about that, Richard">">... Tuitu'u, who was at right tackle for us last year, will not play this year. He decided not to play football. So, Adam">">Adam Tello will be our starter. I'm excited about our offensive front, but it is an area that's young. We've got [Shawn] Lauvao and Paul [Fanaika] coming back. They're the two experienced guys, and everybody else is going to be new. They're athletic, and it will be exciting to see how they come about. That's a real big question. So, we'll see what happens, but that's probably the biggest one we've got right now."

On working with Rudy">">... Carpenter in getting rid of the ball quicker:
"We're going to be involved in some different things, as far as what we're doing offensively. I've been in a lot of offenses in my coaching career, and spread it out before people were spreading it out. So, we're going to do some of that, get it off quick and try to give him a little bit better opportunities. When you're in three- and five-step drops, you get it off a little quicker. He'll get rid of it. The offense will be conducive to him getting rid of it."

On what he expects from the freshmen this season:
"A lot of it depends on what our depth is. There will be some that will play. In my mind, there will probably be four or five of them, but who they are? I'm not sure. We need some help in the defensive front, to develop some depth, so that's a possibility. Same thing in the secondary, at corner and/or safety. At wide receiver, Gerell">"... Robinson probably has a chance to compete and play. It's a good class. We'll see where they're at, but I wouldn't be surprised to see four or five of those true freshmen play."

On the speed of the defense:
"We've got a lot of starters back, so we're about the same as we were a year ago. I think we're a little bit faster. We've got some young guys that will play and continue to improve our speed. We will continue to improve our speed all the time. That's what we believe in defensively, to play fast and play very aggressive. Our defensive philosophy is based on guys that can run. So our defense every year will continue to get faster. We will continue to keep it simple, like we have. We really believe that if you don't have to think, you play faster. That's what we were able to do last year. Now, we'll add some different things, maybe bring a little bit more pressure because we're a little bit more experienced, but speed is the key on defense for us."

On the strengths of this team:
"Our skill areas offensively, at running back and wide receiver, is a strength for us. Any time you have Keegan [Herring] coming back, and Dimitri">">D... Nance coming back. We've got three or four guys, Chris">">Chris McGaha, Kyle">">Kyle Williams, Mike Jones at receiver. So we do have some skill, and then you throw Rudy [Carpenter] in there, that's an area that I like. Our experience at safety with Troy">">Troy Nolan, linebacker will all those guys that played quite a bit last year, Mike">">Mike Nixon, [Travis] Goethel, [Gerald] Munns, so we do have some experience, and I don't know that there is anybody that's got a pair of defensive ends like [Luis] Vasquez and Dexter">">De... Davis that we have right now. We've got to find a third one, but they're pretty good."

On how equipped this team is to challenge USC in the Pac-10:
"We'll find out. It's hard to say. It kind of depends on how we grow as a football team. Our goal is going to be the same every year, and that's to compete for the championship and to go to the Rose Bowl. We're young and inexperienced in a lot of areas, so we'll see how we grow and how we develop depth, and then go ahead and go from there. I like our team. They've had a good summer. They'll compete and play hard, and then we'll see what happens."

On his feelings going into this season compared to last season:
"We know each other. The players know the coaches, and we know the players. They know how we react to things. We know how they react to things. It's nice being around them for a year. It makes a big difference. Last year, we weren't sure what to expect, and I'm sure they weren't sure what to expect of us. That's the biggest difference."

On Adam">">Adam Tello starting at right tackle:
"Adam had a good spring. It was a toss-up who was going to start at right tackle for us anyway. Adam is young, but he's very athletic, a very good pass protector. I feel good about him. We've got Mike">">Mike Marcisz, who can play over there too. [Tom] Njunge could flop from left to right [tackle], and we've got a couple of true freshmen that could end up helping us there too."