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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
QUOTES: Pac-12 Championship Pre-Game Press Conference
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 12/06/2013
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Arizona State head coach Todd Graham

Coach Graham Quotes:

Opening Statement:
“It’s going to be an electric atmosphere tomorrow.  We are so honored on behalf of the university and the Arizona State Sun Devils to host the championship game.  I’m extremely proud of our team and our program.  We are very honored to play one of the best teams in the country, and one of the best-coached teams, one of the most disciplined teams that we have played all year.  That’s what college football is all about—two teams like this going at it.  We’re awfully excited and honored to compete against Stanford for the Pac-12 Championship.  We’re looking forward to tomorrow.  The guys have had an outstanding week.  I can’t wait.”

On Marion Grice’s absence:
 “He won’t play.  D.J. Foster will be the starting tailback.  De’Marieya Nelson and Deantre Lewis will play there as well.  We have a tremendous amount of confidence in D.J.  He is obviously prepared, and is very dynamic back as well.  He’s very versatile.  We just have to make sure we don’t lose how we use him at receiver as well, so he will also still have that similar role there.  He will be our primary back.  Obviously, Marion is one of the best tailbacks that I’ve had the opportunity to coach, and it’s a big loss not having him, I don’t want to minimize that.  But I also have a lot of confidence in the guys that are in there.  I think they showed last week just what kind of depth we have in that position.”
On the importance of getting off to a quick start:
“It is very important.  We always like to play from ahead.  We’ve been pretty successful when we’re leading at halftime.  It’s important to get a fast start, but the main thing is finishing one point ahead—that’s where I want to be.  When they (Stanford) can control the ball and get in their power sets, they make it difficult.  You don’t want to put yourself behind and have to play from behind these guys.”
On applying past experience this weekend: 
“I’ve coached in three conference championship games and you always learn from them, obviously in preparation.  Each team is different though, I think you’ve got to have a pulse for your team and how they prepare.  Where we’re at now and where we were in week one is completely different.  Where we were in week four is completely different.  Preparation is the key to winning, and the main thing with these games has a lot to do with how you’re playing at that time.  We’re playing our best football right now, and the key for us is making sure we win every play.  Special teams is going to be a big thing, and then the turnover ratio—don’t beat ourselves.  You learn a lot playing those games, but I think it has a lot to do with the personality of the team that you’re with.  In particular, one of the games we were supposed to win, we didn’t win.  I think it didn’t really matter how it was picked, it matters how you play on that given day for that 60 minutes—maximizing every second.  We have to play our football.  Disciplined, smart, tough, physical football.  We just have to stay intense the whole time.  I have a lot of confidence in our guys.  I believe in this football team.  They’ve been well trained and they have matured tremendously.  They’re focused, and I feel good about that.  It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere.  You’re going to get the best performance from the Sun Devils.”
On Stanford’s offense:
“I think they’re one of the most innovative teams, and don’t get a lot of credit for being innovative.  You’ll look out there and there will be seven offensive linemen on the field in their power games.  And what happens when they get ahead of you, they’re going to pound you, they’re going to put body blows on you—they force feed the power.  That’s their signature play.  They run as well as anybody in the country, and they play great defense.  The key in the game is you have two really good defensive football teams—two of the best attacking defenses I think in the conference and maybe the country—going at it.  We want to make sure that we’re throwing the ball because we want to, and not be in those situations where we have to, because both defenses are hard to handle when you get in those situations where you’re having to throw the football.  Turnovers are going to be a major factor, and I think field position.  That’s what they do, they’re not going to beat themselves.  They’re going to play field position.  I think that they’re the best special teams team that we’ve played all year long, and they have the best offensive line that we’ve played all year long.  Those are the strengths that they rely upon and they play great defense.  Defense wins championships.  The team that had the best defense in the league last year won the championship, and I think two of the best defenses in the league are playing for the championship tomorrow.  All of those things are going to be big factors.  They are a team that when they get ahead of you, it’s difficult because they control the clock.”
On what has changed since ASU’s last meeting with Stanford, with respect to Damarious Randall and Davon Coleman specifically:
“What is different for us is that I know they’ve improved dramatically and so have we.  I have a lot of confidence.  Our defensive line has played extremely well, and our defensive forcing unit has played extremely well down the stretch.  They’re a different type style of team than most of the teams are in this league.  It’s going to be a war.  It’s going to be a battle up front—our defensive line against their offensive line.  Hands down they’re the best offensive line we’ve played all year.  But our guys have just gotten better, and we’re playing a lot better as a unit.  We’ve really played well, especially in the big games we’ve had, to put ourselves here.  Not really a lot different.  I think we’ve adapted every week to the skills of our players and what they can do.  And then you have to adapt—about 20 percent of your game plan is really adapting to what your opponent does.  So not a lot different for us.  I did learn a lot from that first game playing them, you always do.  I’ll tell you what I didn’t know the first time playing them is just how innovative they are in the run game and the things they do in the play action pass.  What hurt us was the play action pass even more so than the run.  We have to make sure that we don’t give them cheap ones.”
On home field advantage:
“It’s the greatest advantage we have in the game.  We sat right here in this room back in August, and had our players close their eyes and we wanted them to visualize themselves playing in the Pac-12 Championship and hosting it right here in our stadium.  It’s interesting that we now have an opportunity to do that.  It’s priceless to be able to host this.  You’ll see tomorrow what Sun Devil Nation is all about.  It’ll be an incredible atmosphere, and it’s the greatest advantage we have in the game.  It’s a reward for having the best record in the league.  It's an awesome opportunity for our university and for our city.  I'm grateful to have it here.”

Stanford head coach David Shaw

Opening Statement:
“First of all we are excited to be here, congratulations to Coach Graham and his staff. It’s been a heck of a year for both teams, both teams have had some great moments, both teams look back on some moments that could have gone differently, but both teams ended up where they wanted to be in the Conference championship game. You have two teams that are very well coached, two teams that are very physical and two teams that are excited to play. It should be a fun game.”

On what they will do to counter the “electric atmosphere” that Coach Graham talked about:
“We don’t plan to counter it, we have an expectation that it is going to be that way and to be ready to play and enjoy it. I told the guys this is not going to feel like a bowl game this is going to feel like a playoff game. It will be an exciting energetic atmosphere and it’s one of the reasons why as a Conference we chose to have it hosted by the team, so it’s going to feel like a home game [for them] so we are excited for it.”!

On the differences between the Arizona State team they played in the first game and the one they will be facing tomorrow:
“I think we went into that game with a healthy respect for them. You saw the way we charged back, a lot of things went our way in the first half the last time we played them, but they charge back offensively, they’re very physical, very fast defense. They are playing great football, they are not making a lot of mistakes. Taylor Kelly is playing phenomenally, love what they do on defense, how fast and athletic they are, they have explosive capabilities on offense, I think from the beginning of the season you saw this team play and saw how good they.”

On special preparation for the atmosphere in Sun Devil Stadium:
“No, it’s just about expecting the atmosphere. I think honestly it’s a testament to playing on the road in this Conference, every place you play in this Conference is a tough place to play, every place is loud, every place is energetic. As an away team you go in, you could say the same thing about being at Stanford, we start fast at home, teams typically start fast at home. For us it’s understanding the environment, understanding that it’s going to be an early storm and we have to weather that and be ready to play four quarters."

On issues with weather and the game:
“No, not at all, it’s just going to be a little cold. The same cold front has been going through the whole west coast, so we’ve been practicing in it, it is what it is. I don’t worry about weather personally. My quarterback is from Virginia, my center is from New Jersey, I’ve got guys all over the country, so we just show up and play, no matter what the weather is, it never changes our game plan, we run it we throw it, we do whatever we need to do.”

On the home-hosted model vs neutral site for the Pac-12 Championship:
“I personally favor it [Pac-12 hosted site], we will be willing to do whatever the Conference wants to do of course, but I kind of like it, as opposed to you know you might get a team from Stanford and a team from Arizona State flying to a neutral site, you don’t get that same energy in the stadium that we are going to have tomorrow and you know even as an away team we’re actually looking forward to that environment it’s going to be great, so I don’t mind this at all.”

On Jaelen Strong:
“You talk about a guy with size, a guy with size and the speed to get down the field, he’s got great ball skills, he’s an NFL prototype receiver, He’s one of those big guys you have to circle where he is, especially when you get down towards that red zone, he’s a big target that can get up over people, but he’s also a big guys that can catch and run, a lot of big guys catch and get tackled, but this guys can catch and break tackles and make long runs s!o for us we’ve got to know where he is.” 

On his years living here when his dad coached at Arizona State:
“Ya it was fond memories, we lived in Mesa, spent a lot of time on this campus, spent a lot of time at Camp Tontozona, we just to sneak into basketball games, my dad’s office was in the arena, had a blast playing around the whole campus, a lot of places for a young man to play and not get in trouble, love the players that were here at the time, still friends with some of them, Eric Allen, a good friend of mine, my dad coached here when I was here, Jim Jeffcoat, one of the all-time greats, we are really good friends now. So those are fond memories that I have, those were formative years for me as far as being around an environment that was conducive to great athletics but also had a lot of great people here at the time. 

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