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Quotes: Dennis Erickson press conference on OSU

September 27, 2011

Arizona State University head football coach Dennis Erickson talked about the victory against USC this past weekend and previews the upcoming tilt against Oregon State in his press conference today.  Check out the transcription of the press conference below.

ON Cameron Marshall'S ANKLE INJURY:
"He's been bothered by an ankle since the second week of two-a-days. He got horse-collared in a scrimmage and it's been bothering him all of camp. It just doesn't seem to get better. He's tried to fight through it through practicing. Last week, we just kept him out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday he came in and practiced almost 100 percent. In the game, he still wasn't 100 percent but he's getting closer. He was limping around yesterday, but I assume probably - until we get into the bye week - it's going to be like that. He's better now than he was two weeks ago. Our thought going in was to see how he was on Thursday. If we felt like he was close to it, then we would go ahead and play him. We worked all week and will continue to do that with Kyle (Middlebrooks) and Jamal (Miles) and James Morrison, who we planned on playing but didn't. He needs to play--he's a really good back. He gives us a little bit bigger of a body in there. Marcus Washington is going to start getting some turns, too. That's what our plan is right now. I visited with the trainers yesterday; today is kind of similar. We tape both ankles so they can't tell which ankle is hurt when he gets into a pile. He's better now and he'll continue to get better. Hopefully he'll be better this week. That's how we judge him. I thought after Thursday that he had a good chance of playing. "

ON Cameron Marshall'S PERFORMANCE:
"He got off to a good start. He got out in the open field and no one was going to catch him, so it didn't look like it was sprained too badly. He just brings us a force in there. He's 215 pounds; he breaks tackles. The biggest thing that he's missing right now is changing direction because of that ankle. He's our best pass protector, particularly when we deal with the blitz. The thing about Cameron is he's very smart. He understands what's going on so he can miss a day or two of practice and still come in and perform pretty well. Some guys can't do that. He's powerful. With him in there we're a little bit different of a football team than when we don't have him in there. Again, James (Morrison) is a pretty good substitute for him. We have to get him some turns in there too."

"When guys go down, the next guy has got to go. Again, we ended up playing eight players in that football game. At defensive tackle, three of them rotate all the time. At defensive end, Davon (Coleman) played a lot of the time. Greg Smith came in and played a little bit. (Gannon) Conway played a little bit. He's going to have to play more. Joita (Te'i) might be back, so that'll help us a little bit there. You have to alternate them in there. We only spot them in there for ten plays a game. There's no rule against four guys playing all the time. I thought that's kind of how it was. When it's hot like that, and you're rolling people in like that, it's like I told our two defensive ends, `Did people substitute in for you when you were in high school? No, they didn't.' You got to have some guys that can spot them in there, but they have to play. If you have three that are equal like we do at defensive tackle, you can go ahead and rotate. At defensive end, Greg Smith made a couple of big plays when he was in there. He was fresh. It's an issue and we're going to be dealing with it all year. We're going into our fifth game and we're probably going to have some other guys go down as time goes on. Again, we're going to try to rotate people in there and I hope they get better at practice during the week. "

"They might have been the two biggest plays of the game. It's hard to put that together, but they get seven yards on first down in the red zone and now, all of a sudden, (Greg Smith) and (Alden) Darby substitute--that was his first or second play of the game at corner, so you're talking about two guys. (USC) ran the ball to the left and Greg came underneath the tackle and blew it up, and Darby made the tackle, so that was a big play. (USC had) been protecting at all times and they kept their tight end in, and Greg beat the tight end on the pass rush. That was probably the biggest play of the game. They had been moving it, as we all know. They were going up and down the field, and then they turned it over. Then we took it and we answered offensively after they went ahead and then took that one down. So that was huge.  

"We're not doing anything different. Obviously, as you get down into the red zone the field shrinks, so you can play a little tighter in pass coverage and things like that. To me it's about character and about want-to, and understanding the situation and just making plays. We've been able to do that. We made four plays on defense. I guess it was the `bend but don't break' theory. It was kind of how it went. They moved the football and we were able to get turnovers when we could on defense. That was the difference in the football game."

"He's got a chance to return. In visiting with the doctors, I always visit with them in the afternoon, I'll know more about that. It's up to Omar. He's the only one that can tell about his body. I feel like after the bye, he has a chance to come back and play, but he's got to make that decision about how does he feel as far as the things he has to do at that position. When you're a corner, there's a change in direction a lot, probably a little different than being an offensive lineman. There's a chance. He has to make that decision himself as he goes through and if the doctors OK him. That's the most important thing. We like to think there's a chance for him to come back."

"He's our biggest cheerleader. He's the energy bunny out there. One thing about this team, the guys that are hurt--him, Brandon (McGee) and T.J. (Simpson), they're into it. A lot of the time you see guys get hurt and they don't play anymore and you don't ever see them for whatever reason. Not with this group. Omar is around there all the time, coaching, trying to help those young guys, because we are pretty young. We have three corners that really haven't played all that much. He's coaching them up and helping them."

"We came out of it pretty healthy. We have some bumps and bruises. Nobody that's out. Some guys are banged up a little bit, and usually they start to get better by Tuesday or Wednesday, but we didn't have any serious injury by any means."

"He fought back from probably not playing as well the week before. To me, that says a lot about him as a quarterback, as a person and as a competitor. When you don't play as well, or get criticized for not playing as well, whatever the case may be, you come back and learn from your mistakes. That's not easy to do; a lot of people don't do that. But he learned. They tried to do some things. They hit him. The thing that he did do is he stayed in the pocket way better than he did the week before. There were some guys that hit him after he released the ball and he made some big plays by staying in there. It's experience. It really is. He knows he has to continue to get better and better all the time. The bottom line for a quarterback is winning games. That's the bottom line. I'm proud of the way he fought back and we have to take it to the next level, which means winning the next football game."

"They're struggling with wins and losses. They've had some injuries. I know that program pretty well and we haven't beaten them in three years. I know Mike (Riley) very well, and I know the foundation of that program. They're warriors and they're competitors. They have a lot of pride in what they're doing. I've seen that for a long time. Just when people think they're down, they'll come back and kick your rear-end. That's what their program is all about. I don't see them being any different than any other teams that we play. They're going to come in here and play their rear-ends off, and they'll give us everything that we need. Like I said, they have a pretty good confidence to beat us. They've handled us pretty well. They handled us two years ago here--really handled us. I'm sure they have some confidence coming in here and playing us."

"Beating USC goes a long way for a lot of things. It's over with now. In the long run, for everything that needs to be done in this program, that win against a storied program like that is big for our program. Now, we have to follow it up, and that's the biggest thing. We all know that. It was fun while it lasted. It's over."

"They played really well for the most part. They made a mistake or two. (Osweiler) was pressured a couple times. One was when they got into a bear defense, and sent a backer that we just didn't make the right call on. I thought we protected pretty well. It's a pretty smart group. It's been around. Probably the biggest improvement was in the run game. We were able to knock some guys off the football and that made a huge difference."

"I'd like to think we learned a lesson. Nothing against University of Illinois by any means, but we better have our hat on the correct way, and we talk about it all the time. Our leaders need to know that. We talked about it yesterday. If we play as well as we can, Oregon State is going to come in and give us everything they have. If we don't, they're going to come in and beat us. Our players have got to know that. Our goals are pretty clear--win the South. It's a pretty clear goal. In order to do that, you have to win pretty much every game you play. Our players know that. Beating USC was big for the program, and they were pointing at that, there's no question about that. The goal above that is, like I said, winning the division and going to the playoff. In order to do that, every game is important. I would certainly be surprised if we didn't rise to the occasion and play as well as we can."

ON Mike Willie:
"He's getting better. He made a couple big plays at the end. He's more comfortable. Missing spring football hurt him a little bit as far as the mental things like routes and so-forth. He's getting better every week in practice. I thought he played very well. He gives you a big body in there running routes."

ON Colin Parker:
"Colin has been our best defensive player. No question about it. He's been our most consistent defensive player. He doesn't make very many mistakes. I compare him so much to Mike Nixon who was here a couple years ago, in the mental aspect of understanding what's going on defensively. It just goes to show you it's not always about talent. There's a lot of football that's about (mentality). Colin has that. He's played really well for us."=

"The quarterback is good and experienced. They have (James) Rodgers back, they have their tight end back. They're always aggressive defensively. They always come up and pressure you on the outside. They've been doing the same thing for a long time so they're good at it. It's more about scheme than players. When you have a guy like Rodgers coming back, and the H-back, who's been big in their offense, just having them in their presence makes a big difference for them."

"Sometimes it's luck and getting into the position to strip the football. If you look at our turnovers, one was when they were going in and Deveron (Carr) was able to strip it out. Vontaze (Burfict) came on a blitz and then backed out. Greg Smith just beat him on a pass rush. As you watch football, a lot of times the turnovers are created when the ball carrier or the quarterback doesn't see the opponent. That's what has happened to us, and we've made some big plays that have been huge.  We all talk about it. Turnovers and penalties are the difference in most games that are played--probably turnovers more than penalties. They're huge, always have been."

ON Shelly Lyons:
"Shelly made some really good plays. Of course, the interception like we all know, but he did some other really good things, as far as tackles and so-forth. He's alternating in there with (Oliver Aaron). We've got four linebackers that run through there. He played well."

"I have a lot of fond memories from Oregon State. Great people. Great fans. It's a different atmosphere. It's a very small college. It's different. Obviously, in the year 2000 when we came down here and played, which was one of the great times of my coaching career, so I have a lot of fond memories of Oregon State. There have been a lot of things that have been done there, as far as facilities and those types of things, I was a little bit involved in. I'm proud of my time there. I have friends up there, so it's always fun to play them. "