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QUOTES: Todd Graham Weekly Press Conference
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 11/12/2012
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Nov. 12, 2012

VIDEO: Coach Graham's Press Conference

Head Coach Todd Graham

Opening statement...
"Saturday was disappointing for us but after looking at the film, we had some spectacular plays and guys giving unbelievable effort. I love the character these guys continue to show. These guys have had every opportunity in the last four weeks. We played four of the top five teams in the Pac-12 and we have fallen four times straight and these guys haven't folded one bit. I think it speaks volumes about their character and about this team and how they feel about each other. Chris Young's interception is probably about as impressive as I have seen. Carl Bradford's performance was unbelievable. I thought Brandon Magee played his best football game. Our guys came in Sunday and know that we don't have an opportunity to compete for a championship as far as the Pac-12 and that's disappointing but we talked a lot about the seniors, talked a lot about this program and where we want this program to be. We have to go get bowl eligible. We had a great Sunday film session. Guys are focused and coming back home. These seniors are going to play in their last game here at Sun Devil Stadium. They are a very special group. They are very special to me. They bought in and done everything that I have asked them to do. I think they have represented our fans with great character and class. We want to finish up only one way and that is with a win. We have to go get bowl eligible and we have to go get a win for these seniors. It's going to be a special Saturday for us."

On if the first senior class is special as a head coach...
"It is for me as far as the culture and the changes I asked them to make. It could have not gone as smoothly as it has gone. What I found is that these guys have a great love for this university and for this program and it means something to them. In that locker room after that game, I am proud of how they even respond. You find out about people when you face setbacks. It's not going to be as easy as we thought it might be. We never thought it was going to be easy but our expectations are never going to change. We are going to be a program that is about winning championships. Period. That's our expectation. To walk around that locker room to see guys that had their chin up, their chest out but tears rolling down their eyes because it means that much to them. Guys like Brandon Magee, Davon Coleman - I am extremely proud of the progress that they has made and what it means to them. I heard these guys talking about their teammates. I hear them say very little about themselves and a whole lot about their teammates and a whole lot about these seniors. This group is definitely special to me and on the same end I have given them everything I've got. Our staff, we have worked and I think that has been reciprocated on both sides. I think these guys have laid a great foundation for our future."

On his initial concern with getting the seniors on board when he first got here...
"I was really concerned. All the things that go along with transition are very difficult. I think the biggest thing is mistrust. I know I went through that when I was in college. I kind of felt like right when they walked through the door I was very skeptical that these guys care. Do they have our best interest or are they just planning for the future. We were able to come together on that and were able to build a trust. They know. I think they know by your actions, what you are doing and the decisions that you make whether you really care. It was such a drastic change on a lot of the little things we were asking them to do. We asked them to do it and they did it. Guys like Cameron Marshall, Brandon Magee and Andrew Sampson were incredible. I was very concerned because it could have not been as positive of a deal. I think we did a good job of conforming and transforming this team. It's been a tough four weeks and I think that kind of showed what they were about because there has been no stepping backward in regard to how they conduct themselves and the fight that's in them too. The guys were all stepping up there and it was 31-17 and we were talking about how we were going to get a score, get the team ready and tie this thing up and go. I am very proud of this group. We aren't done yet. Our focus right now is to go get a win and send these guys out as winners at this stadium and then we go play the most important game of the year after that. Our goal is to win the next three games and that means the next two and then a bowl game. You have to get the first on first so that is what we are focused on."

On the teams offensive tendency to start off ahead and then drop off...
"As the year has gone on, we have a lot of depth in our best players as far as playmakers at the running back position, the teams do plan and do look to take away that and we have struggled to have play makers on the outside at the receiver position. We have to get better there. We have to do a better job at taking care of the football. We are a run, play action pass team. That is what fits our personnel right now and that is what we will always be. We want to be a physical, downhill running football team. You look at the offense against UCLA, the guys had one bad play. We played pretty good against a good football team. Didn't play very well defensively. It's kind of a story for us, we haven't been able to put together a game on both sides of the football. There are areas we know we have to improve in. I'd say the number one on offense is just that we want to add guys like Marion Grice and DJ Foster be more of those playmaker type guys."

On the defensive third down penalties...
"We had zero roughing the passer. The penalties that we have had were not like the penalties we have had. We had two roughing the passer penalties that extended plays. I think that the game with USC, our guys are competing and sometimes that gets called and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately it got called a couple of times and obviously extended the plays. I didn't think it was the same thing we have had. There's a lot of subjectivity. It's tough. You're competing on third down plays. They are competing for the sticks and sometimes those things get called and sometimes they don't."

On what Keelan Johnson means to the team...
"He means a lot. I would love for those guys to get the chance to sit up here and tell you their progression. I think he is one of the guys, much like [Deveron] Carr and those guys in the back end, kind ofwent through a year where they didn't have a lot of successes. As far as the secondary, what they have been able to do and accomplish has really moved this program forward. When you think of defense I think there is a great respect here now. They have been a part of establishing that. Keelan has probably been one of the most improved players in the program. I think Carr is probably the most improved player in the program. Those guys mean a lot to me and I think they will be guys that will go on and have success. It meant a lot to me personally because they bought in to what we were doing."

On cornerback Deveron Carr...
"He had a tough last year. I was looking at a deal up until this last game. Take [Osahon] Irabor on the secondary. He had seven pass interference penalties last year, and I think he has zero this year. You look at how well they've played as a unit in a very difficult, tough conference. We gave up one big play last week, which we were supposed to be double covering the guy, and we got beat on that one. I want this program to be a place where people want to come play defensive football. I think that's the key, that's the niche for us. Obviously we want to be an explosive offense. I've done that as a coach. We want the same thing. We want an explosive and exciting offense, and we're going to make that happen as we move forward. But I think that's the key to us being a program that wins championships each and every year. I want to be known for defense. I think these guys have taken a giant step this year in establishing that. We're not there yet obviously, but we've taken a giant step in making vast improvements, especially in the back end and what they've been able to do there. They were at 107th or 108th in the country in pass defense, and you take the critical errors and the mistakes and the blown coverages out and it would be really impressive, but you don't get to do that. I don't know what we are not in the country, but we're on the other end from 108th."

On offensive lineman Andrew Sampson's injury...
"That's hurt us a lot more, and like I said the other day, it has hurt us a lot more than him being gone for the last two weeks. It's been one of those slow ankle sprain type deals that have just taken longer than we thought it would. But we do expect to have him back and at full speed. It's very hard for a big lineman to play if they're limited in being able to push off, and we could have put him out there last week but I think it would have been detrimental to him, so we didn't do that. I know this is his last game at Sun Devil Stadium, so I look for him to play extremely well."

On his coaching techniques in comparison to others...
"I don't want to comment on anybody else's situation, but what we've tried to do is come in and have a plan and try to win right now and be committed to these seniors. As far as coming in and establishing a long-term plan, it's all based on one thing, and that's building positive relationships. I think that's the key. I think the key to every problem we can bring up in here can be helped by personnel. That's recruiting. I think the best tools we have are our players. I always encourage our recruits to talk to our players. You know, you come out to practice, we're very demanding and there is nothing wrong with that. But I think we've formed great relationships, and there is an atmosphere of respect and love for this university. One of the things we've worked really hard on is to teach them what it is to be a Sun Devil, what they're a part of. Part of that is bringing the old, great players back and our coaches. I think about my experience going through Camp Tontozona and standing there listening to Coach Kush, Danny White and Darren Woodson. We've developed some really strong roots in our relationships, and they are going to pay dividends with our existing players. All we've done is laid a great foundation when it comes to that. I think it's going to bring the best and the brightest and the right players here as we move forward and continue to improve our personnel. I'm pleased with the personnel that Coach [Dennis Erickson] left me here with. There are good players here, making no excuses about that. But you are always wanting to get better and to improve. I think that's the key to being successful in collegiate football; you reap what you sow when it comes to relationships. We're trying to work guys extremely hard because they ultimately want to win and be successful with their careers and in college. I think we've done that, and I think it comes back to the core values that we base everything on, and that's character, respect, honesty, discipline, and trust. Those are things we've tried to develop, and I think we've made great strides in that."

On assuming responsibility for the team's results...
"My deal is that I know how everything works. From my standpoint, for me and my players, I think they listen to what I say. I want them to understand. Ultimately what I've found out, and it's taken me a while as a head coach to realize this, but I am responsible for 100% of what goes on in my program, with every kid, every player. And I just want to demonstrate to them the attitude that I want them to have. I really mean that. In this business, I'm going to be held accountable. I don't know anything about anybody else's situation, that's not any of my concern, but for me that's the reason why I approach it that way. I want to inspire them. I feel like if I'm making them do something, they're only toing to accomplish so much. If they're bought in and inspired, then I think we have a chance to do something special. I was thinking about always being a thumb pointer, not a finger pointer, and taking ownership. It's one of the things I talk to them about in the locker room when we fall short. I go in there with a standpoint that ultimately Coach Graham is responsible for the win-loss record here. I talk to them about how to handle that. I don't have anybody consoling me. When you face adversity in life, your family needs you. That's when you man up. That's when you step up. And we talk about having composure and having that mental maturity about yourself. I cannot stand to lose, and Coach [Tim] Cassidy knows that, I can't stand it. But it's my job to educate these guys and to help show them the things that are going to help them be successful in life. You're going to have a lot more than losing a football game. You're going to have a lot more than losing four football games in a row. There are going to be a lot tougher things in life that you're going to have to face than that. I look at it as being an educator and trying to educate these guys and being genuinely who I am. Your kids know that, they know exactly where you're at and how you feel about things, and there isn't much hiding from them." 

On linebacker Brandon Magee's performance over the season...
"I'm really proud of him. I told him he'll want to get a copy of that film, because there was one play - I think it was the reverse - that, boy, you want people to see that tape. He was relentless in his efforts on that play. He's been phenomenal and there are Sundays he struggles just to jog. He has been great, along with everyone else. There is not one of them that I don't have a great feeling towards, that's worked hard for us. But Brandon has been a catalyst on the defensive side of the ball when it comes to that. I think he's helped us to bring others with him. Cameron Marshall is really critical on the offensive side of the ball, and to do the same thing. Both of those guys know what it is to be a Sun Devil, and it's very important to them."

On facing Washington State this upcoming Saturday...
"Obviously their coach is a great offensive coach. You can tell the difference between where their system was four weeks ago to where it is now. They came back and gave UCLA a run for their money. You look at the Stanford game and they're sitting there in the red zone getting ready to score and tie the game up. They're making great strides there, and it's a very difficult offense to defend. They're a very capable football team. I see a very capable offense that's putting up 400 yards, as they did against Stanford and UCLA, two really good defenses. They play hard, these guys. Obviously defensively, their guys play extremely hard and extremely physical. We have to play well, and our guys know that. Our guys know that last year this was a game they know exactly how Washington State is going to play and how you have to prepare. It doesn't matter who you play in this conference. You have to go in ready to play and win. We've come up short four games in a row, and we have to go out and get the win. Our guys are going to be very motivated and focused and know that they're playing a capable team."

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