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Todd Graham Press Conference Quotes - 10/7
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 10/07/2013
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Opening Statement:

“I am very proud of our guys and how hard they played. We put ourselves in a position to win. Give Notre Dame a lot of credit. That 53-yard field goal was pretty impressive. I thought it was out of his range. Really proud of our guys effort. Really close in a lot of things. We only had the ball for two minutes in the first quarter. We had a couple of opportunities in that first drive. The biggest thing that hurt us in the game was we did not have enough opportunities, not enough plays offensively. That had a lot to do with them sustaining drives and executing. Going back and looking at it and reflecting on it, one thing I know is we have a really good football team. We finished up the first third of the season and I think we are in good shape. I know that we are a lot better football team because of the schedule we just played. We are really close in a lot of things. We just did not get enough opportunities. We have got to get (the opponent) off the field more. After going back and looking at it that hurt us.  Only having the ball two minutes in the first quarter was a big factor in the game because we had come off such a great game the week before so that slowed the tempo, It was a story of third downs. We just didn’t covert on third down. The turnovers were obviously the difference in the game. Going back and looking at the film we missed two critical interceptions. One that would have been an interception for a touchdown. It was a game we were very close in. Obviously, we played a very big, physical football team. Really proud of our guys and how hard they played.  I don’t know if you guys watched the extra points, but you can always tell a lot about a team on how they rush after they just got scored on. I have never had a team that rushes harder or competes harder than this team does. Our guys have a great attitude and a great spirit. Now we start conference play back. Our focus is the conference, the Pac-12 South, and the Pac-12 Championship. Obviously, all our focus is on Colorado.

“Going back and reflecting on that game, I thought Damarious Randall was really a bright spot. He really played very well and that is exciting. Lloyd Carrington had his best game of the season. I thought Davon Coleman had his best game of the season.  There were a lot of personal bests in that game. Obviously guys like Jaelen (Strong) and Marion (Grice) did a very good job. We have got to be able to run the ball. They did such a great job of stuffing that. We were very close on a lot of throws. Really proud of our guys. Our guys have a great energy about them. We are excited about this week. In the Pac-12 anyone can beat you. You have got to prepare. Coach Mac (MacIntyre) has done a great job with the Colorado program. They have got playmakers. They have as good of a receiver as you are going to play against. He has his team playing hard.”

On what he has learned about his team during this tough four-game stretch:

“I feel good about where we are at. Obviously, we wanted to be 5-0, but we were close to 4-1. That would have been nice for our fans. It was just an incredible turn out down in Dallas. We have got a good football team. We have a lot better football team than we had at this time last year. We are making some mental errors. On defense, we have really struggled to develop. We had a lot of inexperience at the Free Safety position. That position has really gotten better. Both Laiu (Moeakiola) and Damarious (Randall) have played well. Damarious really played well the last game. I think at the linebacker position, we have been one guy short and that has hurt us. Jaxon (Hood) could of played. He wasn’t 100 percent. He wanted to play but we didn’t let him. I think we are better at every position. We have got a legitimate shot to be in this thing. We have to take it one week at the time. We have to go beat Colorado and go on to the next one. This is a competitive league and there is a lot of parity. There is no doubt our goals are in our reach. I do think we have the talent. We have to continue to get better every week and get things corrected. We have an offense that can score points and you have got to have that to win this league. We have got guys playing at a really high level on defense. As a unit, we have to get those things corrected. I have got a lot of confidence offensively where were at. Special teams has got to continue to get better. We had some miscommunications and alignment issues. We did a pretty good job on kickoff coverage. We need to be a lot more aggressive in the kicking game. The kicking game is the number one thing that will determine our success. We have to improve defensively to get to the level where we want to be. We are not far from that. I feel good about our team. We have been somewhat healthy to this point. Our guys have a great spirit. There are a lot of simple things that we need to work on. We gave up way too many yards in the passing game. We spent a lot of time on the run defense. I do think we have improved greatly there. We are just making too many mistakes. We are not going to play anybody the rest of the way that are going to run the ball any better than the teams we just played.”

On his impressions of the Wide Receivers so far this season:

“I think Cameron (Smith) has a lot of potential. Obviously, still a young guy and still trying to figure things out. Kevin (Ozier) has been a steady force for us. He continues to be the leader of that group. Jaelen is getting better every week. Believe it or not fundamentally, he could be a lot better. I love his attitude. I thought the play of the game was when we fumbled the ball on the hitch screen. That was a very critical point in the game and we had just not done that (this season).  I think Jaelen (Strong) is playing at a high level, now we have to get other people playing at a higher level. The key is that everybody is improving and getting better. We were just barely off on some of the throws. You have to give them credit they had a great plan. We have got to get Marion (Grice) and especially D.J. (Foster) more opportunities. I didn’t think they got as many opportunities as they needed to have.”

On how the Defensive Line will play against a more pass-oriented team:

“Going through last year and going through this year has been totally different. Not only the caliber of teams, but the style that they play. We have had strong play from those guys. I feel like Gannon (Conway) and Will (Sutton) have played very consistent.  Obviously, he (Will Sutton) is drawing protections towards him. Davon (Coleman) made some plays last week. We have got some hits on the quarterback, but we have got to get to him more. Obviously, Colorado isn’t the caliber rushing attack that we have played against. Their coach has done a great job. He is a very good football coach, but yes we should see a lot more production from them. We have come very close to getting sacks, but I think the teams we have played have done a great job getting the ball out. We have probably dropped off from last year in our coverage. Some of it is technique and some of it is calls. I thought one of the great things (Notre Dame’s) offense had was the Tight End. He was very physical and could push off. He did a great job blocking as well. We start conference play and we have to up that productivity.”

On Damarious Randall:

“I am really proud of him. He was a little flustered at times. Our leaders coached him and it was nice how they brought him in. He didn’t just play average, he played really good. That is as good as I have ever had a Free Safety play in the first game for me. He did some great things. He made some tackles. He made a big time tackle on a return that could have gone to the house. He made a lot of tackles all over the field in the run game. He did a great job in one-on-one coverage. If we can take our Free Safety and be able to match him up with people one-on-one it really helps us schematically. I really didn’t think he was ready. Marcus Ball getting hurt and him getting hurt set us back defensively. He is a long way from arriving but I have great confidence that that position is really going to be elevated as we move forward.”

On Colorado:

“They are playing a lot better defensively. Their defensive coordinator has done a great job with their defense and varying what there doing and being sound in what there doing. That was probably their biggest weakness last year was their defense. They have got some playmakers. Their wide receiver went for 75 against Oregon. They had six or seven big plays against Oregon. Two big-play touchdowns. They were actually beating Oregon in the first quarter. They have got their guys playing with a spirit. They are playing hard. Special teams is the most improved on their team. Our deal is treating it like any other week. I do like where I guys are. Our guys know we have a very good football team. I think our guys know we can win this thing. To do it, it is a single elimination tournament now. You control your own destiny and all you have to do is go win every week.”

On the challenges of facing Colorado: 

“Obviously, the caliber of teams we have been playing and where they’re at right now is a little different. Guys think that this will not be as big a challenge and you can’t do that. You have got to bring it because they can definitely beat you. There is not anybody in the Pac-12 that can’t beat anyone. There is great parity in this league. The danger is not taking a team seriously.  What happens in a game like this is you go out there and slop around. It ends up beating you down the road or it can beat you then. Then panic sets in. You guys remember the Colorado game last year. It was a little stressful at halftime. We can’t overlook anybody.”

On Notre Dame’s size up front:

“I think that Stanford and Notre Dame’s offensive line are two of the best in the country. The one thing about Notre Dame’s defensive line was their size. That is a factor. The bigger factor in that is what they are doing. We knew coming in that was there strength. Notre Dame was stronger then what we faced in Stanford. That Tight End was a big factor in the game.”

On the offensive line and sacks given up vs. Notre Dame:

 “We got sacked four times on drop back passes and three of those came in the late drives. After watching our offensive line, Kody (Koebensky), Jamil (Douglas), and Vi (Teofilo) will tell you that those boys were pretty big. I thought our guys battled well. You are going to have games like that. The reality is that Notre Dame’s defensive line is a lot better than the one we played the week before. That’s not knocking USC’s defensive line, but they are not that defensive line. You are not going to play against bigger or better people than that. I don’t think they took a step back, I think they battled. We can’t come out of a game with 55 yards rushing and be successful. We were having success on the perimeter and in the third quarter we started moving the ball, we just did not have enough opportunities. We played against a very good team and they won that battle up front. We have been pretty good at being innovative about how to create a run game. We did that last week. Notre Dame’s defense is better than USC’s. We didn’t get it done last game.”

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