2013 Football Media Day Quotes
Head coach Todd Graham
“Well first of all I want to apologize for being late. We had quite a busy day today, today was our officials day so we bring in the Pac-12 officials and they go through a series of meetings, training our players on the rules and our guys were quite inquisitive so we were a little bit behind today so I apologize for that. I don’t like people being late and I surely don’t like holding you guys up, so we won’t do that too often.
Like I said before we’re very excited about this season and I’m very excited about how our guys are working. We’ve got a lot of work to do and there is 25 days until we play. I’ve been very pleased, there have been many bright spots in camp so far. DJ Foster is a guy that has really stuck out to me. He’s really, really gotten faster and has been very explosive in practice. And then we’ve got Marion (Grice) and five new wide-outs that I think are going to be tremendous players for us.
Tyler Sulka, he’s competing well and moved into being the starting right tackle right now and he’s doing a great job at competing. Offensive line has been solid as well, so I’m very, very excited about our ability to score points. The number one thing in camp and preparing for the season has been remembering to take care of the football. That was our number one goal last year and we didn’t do a very good job with that. We’ve got to do a much better job taking care of the football. We’re a lot faster, bigger and stronger so I’m very excited about that.
Defensively Chris Young has been a guy that’s really stood out to me. He’s really, really growing and getting better. All of the guys are faster and stronger – and again obviously Will (Sutton). I believe he is a lot better than he was last year. He’s bigger at 305 pounds. As you watch practice he’s very, very explosive. He’s also been a great leader so he’s doing a great job in all areas.
(Alden) Darby, (Osahon) Irabor and all of those guys are faster, stronger than before. We’ve got freshman guys like Marcus Ball; he’s been a stand out and so has James Johnson. Marcus Hardison up front is looking good. Probably the biggest thing I think should be impacted is our team speed and how it affects the special teams. Place-kicker Zane (Gonzales) has been outstanding. We’ve got some work to do in the punt game, that’s an area of concern. We haven’t done quite as well as I thought we’ve been doing right now but that’s part of getting better.
We’re very excited about this team and our focus right now is Camp Tontozona. We’re going to really focus on the relationships that are needed for building this team. After that, beating Sacramento State in the first week is our next focus.”
On the state of the program in a ranking of 1-10:
“I think we are completely different than a year ago, I think we’re very solid. If you look at what our guys are doing in the classroom, incoming freshman have over a 3.0. I can’t tell you one newcomer that we’ve brought here that I’ve been disappointed with in the first four days of practice. I couldn’t say the same thing last year. So I think our coaches did a good job of recruiting and getting the right guys. Obviously we’ve got a lot of moving parts with new incoming freshman as well as the incoming guys from junior college that factor into the two deep. Last year I would have said we were around a five or six and right now I think we’re probably around seven or eight. Just being honest with you, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
On Evan Finkenberg and Osahon Irabor not being on pre-season watch lists:
“I don’t understand that because I think (Evan) Finkenberg is as good as there is out there. He is definitely the leader of our offensive line, He’s a guy that is probably projected to be a guard at the next level. I really don’t know how that stuff works, pre-season picks and pre-season watch lists. The key to all of those lists is being on them at the end of the year. I wasn’t surprised with any of the other eight guys that were on there but I was surprised that our two guys weren’t on there. I think they’re pretty liberal with how many people they put on those things.”
On removing two-a-days from Camp T schedule:
“Well we may do two-a-days. I’ll be honest with you I can’t wait to go. Last year we kind of had a campfire, the kids kind of got around the campfire, it’s not something we planned. Guys went down after practice to the creek where Pat Tillman used to jump off the ledge there. Obviously we climbed Mount Kush and all that, but we want to have time for team building stuff. We have a lot of newcomers and a lot of really quality freshman. You’re going to have that every year, but this year a whole bunch of those guys factor in to our two deep. We’re in camp right now and I hear “Hey number 17 you’re supposed to do this.” We really need to kind of learn each other’s names and get to know each other. Our veterans are very, very close. Our fourteen players that are on our leadership counsel are very, very close. And that’s not to say that we won’t practice in the evenings. We’ve got 29 practice opportunities but we may only take 25.
Last night we were supposed to come back to meet, but I kind of get a feel for the guys because I coach, I don’t just walk around, I coach, keeping them mentally motivated because it gets to be a wear on you. But I want time to really develop as a team. We will start early in the morning and finish late at night working on football, but I’m not going to say what kind of football.
The other thing that I’m a little concerned about is the quality of the field. Last year we had some holes and things so I want to make sure that we are careful not to do too much on that. My number one goal is to get this team ready and for them to be healthy week one.”
On what he’s looking for out of Carl Bradford:
“He has to get better against the run. I’ve challenged him; he’s a tremendous athlete who is very explosive. And he has taken pride in doing that. He’s stronger and faster, we’re working on him being a leader. He’s a guy that always does his job and he has to step up and be a leader. I’m expecting him to be a lot better.”
On having a lot of freshman concerns:
“I think on defense there is a chance for one freshman to start. I think a couple more in the two deep. On offense, I think there is a chance for probably two freshmen to start. We pride ourselves on getting guys ready to play; I think we’ve had like seven freshmen All-Americans as a coaching staff. We have no problem playing freshmen that are ready to play, but it’s not a bad thing to redshirt – it seems like today it’s a bad thing to redshirt. I will tell people five years from now we sure wish we had another year of DJ (Foster). I’m not that concerned about it. Our biggest challenge is those junior college guys. We need to get them ready; I think they will have the biggest impact. There will be two or three freshman that will have a big impact as well. We have a whole bunch out there that are in the two or three spots, but we just have to stay healthy up front on both sides of the ball but I’m not that worried about it. I don’t think we’re an inexperienced team either; I’m not going to say oh we’re a young team. We’ll be graduating 14 players on defense this year. This is the year, we’ve got a veteran crew and we better be good.”
On a battle for the second corner position:
"I think we’ve got three guys right now that have really separated from the others. Obviously Osahon (Irabor) and then Lloyd (Carrington) have been very, very impressive. Like I said the other day I think he’s a guy that has really developed. And then Robert Nelson has done very well. We will play three corners. And then (Rashad) Wadood has really had a solid four days at practice. Marlon Pollard is another guy that has been a bright spot in that group. We’re really a lot deeper at corner. We’re young at safety with Alden Darby and we’re trying to develop another free safety so I feel good about the cornerback position. I think three guys are up there and I think (Rashad) Wadood is closing on being the fourth."
On players handling expectations this year:
“I don’t think that when I talked about winning championships last year, that they believed it. I think that after being so close last year, they saw that we can do this. Our thing that I talked to the players about is that there is no doubt in my mind that we have the talent and the ability to be in the hunt. I would sure like to be dominant. We have a long ways to go to do that, but we sure have the ability to do so. We have to expect to win championships. I know that they believe they can win it all this year.
On how defending the run this season compared to last:
“I think there are some things that we have to do. When you are in the season, it goes by pretty fast. You have to adjust each week. Obviously I am very involved in the defense, you guys know this. I think there are some things we could have done to be better. I think the number one was the lack of depth. I think there are some scheme things that can help us. The schedule will help us. We are playing some guys that can run the football. If you have come to practice, you have seen a lot less spread and whole lot of power. It has been pretty physical. The key to that is just being consistent. We are not consistent right now but we are a whole lot better. We have gotten bigger inside, we have gotten deeper, and we’re faster. That’s one thing I think we have, we have a fast football team. If there is anything defensively we have to do, obviously we do pretty good job at sacking the quarterback, explosive plays, TFL’s, interceptions, we just have to do a better job at stopping the run. To do that is simple, but it’s very hard. I think we are much improved from where we were. Our personnel is better. To be good against the run, you have to be fundamentally sound. There needs to be a balance there. I think we are better against the run. We are trying to maintain a balance in being healthy and being very, very physical. So we have seen two tight ends, two backs, wing sets, and working a lot of power in split zone.
On Deantre Lewis:
"I think Deantre has had a solid camp. I think he is 100% physically and I think this is the first time he has been mentally where he needs to be. It is definitely those three guys (Grice, Foster, Lewis). But he (Lewis) factors in. You have Marion and D.J. that are the guys and then Deantre is fully capable of being in that group. He is not quite there yet, but close."
On the receiving core coming out of camp
“Well E.J. Jefferson has been the guy that has really stuck out to me. Big, fast and physical. The guy likes to block. It’s nice to have size like that. Cameron Smith, Ronald Lewis, and we’ve added three freshmen to that group. Cameron caught a bomb for a touchdown today. I think that freshman core and Joe Morris bring a physical dimension to that group. Joe will be our gunner on kickoff cover. Not many receivers can do that. He’s our guy that wants to be physical off the edge and blocking and catching. You take the talent you had at Coyle and Nelson and that three back position and you add those three freshmen with Joe and Jaelen (Strong) back out there. We have to pull them all together because they are all brand new. We have to get them all developed. Rick Smith has really looked good. Kevin Ozier, I am so proud of him because he is, I think, the key person at receiver to bring the group together. I like Jaelen and I like Joe because they are not like the newcomers- they are really, really mature and both have leadership qualities, but I think that Kevin is very instrumental in that group because we it’s high-risk with five new guys. Penalties, missed assignments, there is all kind of things like that because our offense is not simple. But that group does provide something we need. If we are going to defend those running backs and tight ends, then you have got to do that with one-on-one and we have guys that can do that."
Linebacker Carl Bradford
On Will Sutton returning for his senior season:
“Oh it’s really big. I’m really honored to be playing next to him this season. I love his energy and I try to feed off of it and be just like him so I am excited to have him back.”
On competition between Sutton:
“We have a little thing between us and he wants to break it and I want to break it, and we both said ‘Let’s go get fifty’. So I think we need that competition between us to keep pushing us forward.”
On the goal for the 2013 team:
“Our one main goal is to win a national championship. We are willing to prove that we are the team to do it.”
On Jaxon Hood’s improvement:
“Jaxon Hood is a great player. He has a lot of potential- he’s very physical. You saw him as only a freshman dominating the offensive line and he is showing that again this fall camp, but even better now. He and Will in the inside are two great defensive linemen and I feel honored to be next to them.”
Facing this season’s opposing big seven offenses:
“That’s all just being physical. Will will want to go beat-to-beat with the offensive linemen and attack those blocks so just being physical will be a key in those games.”
On the depth in the secondary and if that will influence turnovers:
“I think if we just keep doing what we do, all our guys are great at pass rushing. I think everyone is playing that third down, quick off the ball and everyone has their pass rush move. If one goes down, the next will step up and will be just as good as a starter and I think that is going to help a lot."
Athlete Marcus Ball
On what he’s learned from veteran Alden Darby:
"You learn everything. Besides Coach Ball teaching you and Coach Graham teaching you, you can always rely on guys like Alden Darby. If you need to know something, if something went wrong, Alden Darby is like another coach. He is a very positive role model and a leader out there and very vocal."
On what attracted him to Coach Todd Graham and ASU:
“Coach Graham, since day one, came into my house and looked me in the eyes and looked my parents in their eyes and spoke the truth. I felt like he is a man of his word and I heard nothing but good things when I came to my visit with the players that were already here and they always said he was a man of his word. If he tells you, ‘You are going to play’, you can come in here and play. And that’s what attracted me. I had a spot here to come in and make an early impact and that is something that attracted me. Coach Graham is a positive person, a leader, a man of his word and his work ethic and knowing he is determined and his passion to win is something that attracted me as well."
Linebacker Chans Cox
On his weight gain and keeping his speed:
“That’s one of my main focuses-to keep my speed and that’s something I can tell that the weight has done a little bit, but I just really want to keep my speed. My biggest thing is to keep my speed.”
On being apart of the new freshman class coming in:
“It has been great- we all have the same morals and all have a lot in common. I feel like it’s a great class. Just being here for these few weeks, we all have a great connection so it has been quite the journey so far. “
Linebacker Viliami Latu
On his weight gain:
“I’m at 245 (lbs.) right now. I feel good.”
On the transition from high school to college:
“The speed of the game. It’s kind of hard to keep up with (the other players) but I’m having a good time. It’s fun.”
On his decision to choose ASU:
“The brotherhood that you have around here. All the older guys are leaders and the coaches are here to help you. It’s real good. I love it.”
Linebacker Viliami Latu with brother linebacker Alani Latu
On the biggest challenge they’ve had to go through here so far:
“(A. Latu) Probably just leaving my mom. It’s our first time being away from home and just living on our own is probably the biggest challenge. I’m glad we came together so we have each other. It makes things a lot easier.”
On their closest friends on the team:
Our two closest friends on the team would probably be Mo Latu and Carlos Mendoza. When we came in on our visit, Carlos was one of our hosts and we got closest to him and we kept in contact after our visit. I don’t know if he was one of the reasons but we had that relationship where we had a lot in common so we were still friends and once we committed here he was excited for us to come. And Mo Latu. We’re not really related to him but once we came in he was calling us brothers, like it’s all family, and that’s how it started with Mo. He’s always in our dorm room singing and eating all our food.
Tight end Grant Martinez
On being here in the spring and knowing what to expect:
“Absolutely. Obviously the coaches are going to be passionate out there, they’re going to get you going, they’re going to strain you a little bit but you have to know that they love you and you just have to keep working hard.”
On his weight gain:
“Yeah definitely I put on a few more pounds but I have a long road ahead of me, I have to get bigger and stronger so I can move some DA’s and linebackers.”
On his understanding of his responsibilities:
“Most of the base stuff I understand, you know, how to work the angles and all that. As we develop more and do some more difficult things it’s a little harder because I’m not getting as many reps out there so I just have to stay focused and keep learning from Chris and Darwin. I really look up to Chris and Darwin. They’re both great guys, they’ve helped me out a lot and obviously they are great players.”
Defensive back Marlon Pollard
On how it is to be here in Tempe:
“It has been a long journey. My mom has always said that life isn’t a straight arrow. Sometimes you go here, you go there, you know as long as you end up where you want to. You just have to put as much effort and hard work into whatever your goals are, and you go get it. My journey has been a lot different. I might be the only guy that has ever played at three different divisional schools so I’m honored to come here.”
On what made him want to come to back ASU:
“ASU is where I graduated. A lot of people get their graduate degrees at different schools. I just want to make more connections and start furthering my opportunities to meet people and academic goals. I think this move was a great opportunity to do that.”
On why ASU is the ideal fit:
“ASU is a great fit because it’s a top school across the country. It’s closer to home. I was in Michigan and I’m from Southern California so that was a culture shock, but Arizona State is 5 1/2 hours from my home so I can go home on the weekends if I wanted to, things of that nature. And they have a great academic program and we’re in the Pac 12 so it was just one of those things where it was like, you know, green light.”
Quarterback Mike Bercovicci
On Camp Tontozona:
“It feels different, it smells different. Everything about that place, for me, makes football fun. Sometimes when you’re here and you’re in the dorms and you’re going to the same union every single day it would be nice to see a couple cockroaches in your meeting room, its just kind of like embracing where you are. We are one percent of the entire football community at our age group that gets to do the kind of stuff like this. We are walking in the footsteps of what older players did here. Ever since I’ve been here, the tradition at the school has always been minimal. Now its getting bigger and bigger and I’m starting to recognize players on the sidelines. It makes me appreciate where I walk.”
Wide receiver Jaelon Strong
On developing timing and working with quarterback Taylor Kelly:
“It feels like I have been here forever”
On what brought him here from Philadelphia:
“The coaching staff. I knew Coach Norvell when he was at Pitt at one of my friends’ high schools and he liked me then. I was previously getting recruited by Coach Erickson’s staff so when Coach Graham and his staff came out here, I knew it was a sign and there had to be something about Arizona State. So Coach Graham flew out to Philadelphia and met my mom and grandparents and talked to them and made them a promise that besides football, I would leave Arizona State the best man that I could be. That’s more important. The game of football could be here for me for probably 15 years and after that I have to live my life. So I need to be the best man I can be."
On fall camp:
“It’s going great. Our expectations are to go out there in camp and get better everyday and accomplish our team goals.
On his leadership role that Coach Graham has talked about:
“It’s feels good. I am not doing it because he told me to, but it just feels right. I am just trying to make the team better, and when you make the team better, it makes it easier to get out there and get wins.”
On the difficult first half of the season and how ASU will overcome:
“Just taking it one day at a time. That’s the main thing. Of course our main interest is stopping the run. We have sacks, but those teams throw the quick pass on the bubble so we have to learn how to adjust and change the game plan”
On the younger guys coming into Fall Camp:
“They are doing well. We just have to keep their heads up. Coaches will get on them and they don’t know how to respond well to it because they are young. You have to keep helping them with the little things.”
On Alden Darby:
“He is doing the same thing since he got here with lots of energy, but he is getting better everyday. He works hard, he wants to be the best out there and you can’t tell him he’s not the best- being that confident and going out there and working and improving is something he does.”
On Camp Tontozona experience:
“Camp T is fun. The only thing I don’t like is having to walk up and down the hills all day but other than that, it’s a great experience. The thing I don’t like is bugs. Big, giant bugs. ”
On the changes made to practices by Coach Graham at Camp T:
“No two-a-days at Camp T is a lovely thing. More team activities is a good thing. Practices will be at a high level and will have us competing.”
On his skill set down on the goal line:
“It helps a lot. It gives a very diverse ability to our offense. You can’t always expect me to run the ball- I can hand it off and if I do have the ball, I can definitely get six. It brings a lot of diversity to our offense.”
Linebacker Steffon Martin
On keys to a successful year:
“My main key to being successful is to be comfortable. Last year I was just too stiff and thinking too much. Knowing the plays this year I feel more comfortable”
On his personal goal for the year:
“At least 100 (tackles) that’s like the minimum for me. I want to get more than Brandon Magee (former Sun Devil linebacker) did last year. He really taught me how to be a linebacker and the Sun Devil Way.”
On his increasing comfort in the defense:
“Now it is just making plays inside the system. Just instinct.”
Wide receiver Jaelen Strong
On why he worked so hard in school:
“I wanted to be a Sun Devil, I wanted to be a Sun Devil right now.” Punter Matt Haack
On his opportunity to play immediately:
“It is always exciting to have an opportunity to play for a team this great right from the get go. There will be a competition between Dom (Vizzare) and me. He is a great punter. I will do anything I can do to help the team win.” On his unique punting style causing muffed punts:
“There have been times in high school and even out here in practice sometimes. The ball just spins differently than they’re used to”