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Coach Graham - Press Conference Quotes - 9/30
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 09/30/2013
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On the Run Defense:

"Obviously, we aren't doing very well in that regard. I think the inside running game we have made vast improvement. Most of it has been alignment issues on the perimeter. Most of the yards they are making are on perimeter runs. Most of it, we can fix. We have played good people, but still we are giving up plays where we are absolutely misaligned. We had right at 15 plays last week where we were misaligned. If you go back and evaluate it, Week One obviously we didn't give up any big plays. Week  Two, you don't see very many. The speed sweep was about it. Week Three, you see a few more. Stanford was the most difficult team to play from a run standpoint. We did a lot of really good things inside. It was a very physical game. I think we got hurt on some perimeter stuff and when they spread it out we had some alignment errors. We are just a guy or two short at some spots. We have got to continue to get better there. We are going to make some adjustments to do that. We have got Will Sutton, Carl Bradford, Chris Young, Gannon Conway, are playing at a high level against the run. Osahon Irabor is playing at a high level against the run to the boundary. Our issues are not to the boundary, our issues are the other way. We are going to make some adjustments there that we could do better. Yeah, we are playing against good people, but still there are too many mental errors, there are too many misalignments. Where we are getting hurt is on angle flow and on outside perimeter run. I do think there are things we can do to fix that. I am encouraged because we are just one or two people away from getting it right.

"I am answering long because this is the number one thing that we have to do to win a championship. This has got to get better and I think it can. That is our number one focus. Focusing fundamentally on getting lined up. I do think there are some personnel issues. We will make some moves that we have to do to get kind of straight. We tried to do some of those things in the middle of the game and you can't do it in the middle of the game. But I am encouraged, the work we have put in there has helped us. We haven't seen it a lot because we have given up big plays. Big play runs have been our nemesis. We have had a couple big passes given up, but the concerning thing for me is in this last game our big plays of 10+ yards have gone from six to eight to 20. That was way too many. We have made some adjustments and that is what we are going to do."

On the significance of this game vs. Notre Dame:

"It is a great opportunity for us. Each wee,k I am not going to say this that opponent is the most important opponent. Very clearly our priority is being Pac-12 Champions. Period. That is not to deemphasize this game at all. This game is a national game for us, an opportunity for our players. I talked to them yesterday about making history. They can be the first team in college football history to beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks. That has never happened. I would say that is pretty significant. Our number one recruiting area is right here in Arizona and California. That is our base recruiting area. The next recruiting area is Texas. It has been very productive for us. Obviously we are going there to play and it is a big deal for us. Our guys will be very motivated to play in this game. It is a national game. It is a game that is very important. Is it more important than the Pac-12 games? No, it is not. That is how we emphasize it to our players. But it is very important to our fan base, very important to our football program. For me personally, going back to where my home is, where I from. It is a big deal for me. Let everybody know that I don't have any tickets to stop calling me. Leave me alone and let me try to have a chance to beat Notre Dame.

On Taylor Kelly playing better at home and how important it is for him to play well this weekend:

"But, I think that is pretty common. You could probably take any quarterback and they would have the same stats. Probably any position in the country would have the same stat. We play pretty well right here on this field and he plays exceptional. I think he is still learning and I think he is still getting better. There were some things we did last week that we want to focus on. One of the big things was his ability to hurt people with his legs. That is important. I think we made some great strides last week improving. If you want to win a championship you have got to win on the road. That is something we have talked to our players about. It shows great maturity to do that. We have got to go on the road in Dallas and play well. "

 

On Notre Dame:

"This team we are playing is a very good football team, very well coached. They are going to do some things offensively that are very difficult. They do a lot of unbalanced and empty formations that we are going to work really hard on to prepare for. They have really good players. Their tailbacks are similar to the ones we faced this week. Very good and powerful guys. Big tight ends and big receivers. Obviously their defense is the strength of their team and their program. They are very big and very physical. It will be a big challenge for us."

On second half adjustments:

"I think the players deserve all the credit for that. The foundation of our philosophy is training. They have invested. There is no one who works harder than we do. I think you are seeing a byproduct of that training. Every game we have been in, whether it was Week One until now, our guys have gotten stronger as the game has gone on. I felt like in this last game that we let up because we got three touchdowns ahead. We can't do that. I think what you are seeing in the second half is a byproduct of training. Mental and physical training. That is the whole philosophy of what we believe in. We are going to make sure we do a good job as a coaching staff to make sure our guys have an opportunity to win and we get them lined up. We have to do a better job doing that. Our guys are doing their part. They are busting their tail, they have trained, they are playing hard, it means something to them. They have been trained that way. Coach Griz (Griswold) does a tremendous job. Everything we do offensively starts with the training. When I came here the first guy I hired was Shawn Griswold.”

On the uniforms:

“I just want to say we are really grateful to Steve Butterfield for providing these for us. One of the things about these helmets is that it is a black helmet with flames in it and every single helmet is different. We have the forks on the side, forks on the back, the face mask looks like it actually has been charred in a fire. We want our players to have the best. We want to be first class in everything that we do. We have a tremendous brand with the fork and if you want to be a champion, you have to look like a champion first. The best recruits are our players and just like how we travel, where we stay, what we eat, the uniforms we have, when recruits come in our players are going to tell them how it is and we want to be the best in the country and taking care and providing for that brand. We have an incredible brand, that Fork and the Sun Devils, this is what it is all about. Obviously, the number one focus is to win the game but this is exciting to the guys. Looking sharp is part of being a champion and part of the educational process and teaching our players that if you want to be successful it looks a certain way, it speaks a certain way, it walks a certain way and it plays a certain way, and it works a certain way and that is what this is all about.”

“I was very involved. I am pretty much involved in most everything we do. Jerry (Neilly), our equipment guy, did a lot of work on it and we have been told that it is one of the sharpest ones that has been put out and I think it is pretty unique. We wanted to do something unique obviously to Arizona State, so the flames we thought were pretty cool and we put the flames on the back, we obviously want to use our brand. Our players had a lot of input. They have a lot of input on everything. We have a leadership council and they pick what they eat when we get on the plane and how things are going to look. This is about the players. Everything about what we are doing, I love. You know why I get excited about this, this is about recruiting. This brand, perception is reality and that brand is pretty special. I like being unique and that is a pretty unique helmet. Our equipment guy does a great job along with our players. We want people to understand how important our brand is and it has to be unique to our place and that is something that goes into all this and I think it is important. It is a marketing, promoting perception. Obviously, you have to win but this is a big part of it too, how our players are treated here. How they act and how they treat other students and embrace the Sun Devil way is big in terms of recruiting and continuing to build a championship program.”

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