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QUOTES: 2014 Football Media Day
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 08/09/2014
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Head coach Todd Graham

Opening Statement: 

“Things are going well, I am really pleased with our guys’ development for the first phase of what we call ‘training camp.’ We have a couple days left before we go to Camp Tontozona. I think we have accomplished a lot of things, and I really like this group’s leadership; it’s the best leadership we have had for the third year, and everything is just better. As far as the buy-in and how we do things, we have a very talented freshmen class. Things are definitely on target and going well. We had a really great first scrimmage today, everyone competed with great passion and I am really pleased with where we are. Particularly our guys on defense, they really held up well today, and it was a good scrimmage. I like this football team. Our motto is ‘Unfinished Business’ and for us to be Pac-12 Championships. Our program is going to be about winning championships. Every rep, every day, everything we do, I think we’re right in on having a 3.0 football team now. We had seventy Scholar Ballers, guys operating with a 3.0 or higher, so we have a lot to things to be excited about, I can’t wait to get up to Camp T, and getting started up there.”

On people on the outside expecting less from the team, and how to fix that expectation 
“I really never give any thought to that. I have same mindset I had a few years ago, our program is going to be about winning championships, we were able to be the Pac-12 South champions last year, and that was short of what our goal is, and we want to get to the championship every year, and we want to win it. We are in better shape than we were last year, and we are in a lot better shape than we were two years ago, in terms of being able to accomplish that goal. This is the best staff we have ever had, I think we’ve got so many things down, that really help you to be a better football team as a whole. Obviously people focus certain players in particular, and those are all valid questions, but the program is what matters. Good programs and great programs reload but they don’t re-build. To our fans, our students, and the Sun Devil nation, anything less than being Pac-12 champions is unsatisfactory. I come here to win championships; I’m not interested in anything else.”

On the recruitment of new players each year, and how valuable it is to him in achieving the team’s goals
“First of all, we were very blessed to have guys like Taylor Kelly, Mike Bercovici, Jamil Douglas, and obviously the guys from last year that are now being successful at the next level. We are very fortunate to have a lot of very fine young men that came in, and really bought in to how we were doings things, and they conformed. We were able to have some success, and now I feel like we are closer to being transformed. I am spending a lot less time dealing with minimum expectations and really a lot of time trying to get high expectations out of our guys. I am a lot more comfortable, I am determined to get better, to win championships, and I like this team, I like the personality of it. When you recruit your own players, they don’t know anything else, so it just makes everything easier. It still doesn’t change the fact that we have young players that don’t know what they’re doing sometimes, but that’s why they hire a coach, to coach them.”

On this year’s defense, and the players that will step up and replace the graduates
“We have some dynamic players. I think Damarious Randall is poised to have an incredible year. What we are in the process of doing right now this spring, is adapting what we do to all of our guys. We have some very explosive young men, like Marcus Hardison need to step up in a big way, he had a very good scrimmage today. Salamo Fiso had a great scrimmage today, Obviously those guys like Lloyd Carrington, during the time I have been here, we have never had a corner that’s had the camp so far that he has had, he has been phenomenal. That is why we have a player development staff that develops our players socially, both on and off the field. We have Griswold in the weight room and training, and our guys are developing. Laiu (Moeakiola), I can’t believe this is the same guy that went through spring training, he has really developed. We will probably have less super stars this season, but I like our defensive unit, we have some young guys, we have (Tashon) Smallwood up-front right now in the starting rotation, Connor Humphreys is up there competing to be in it, Renell (Wren) is going to be tremendous as soon as we can get him to do it how we do it, he’s just phenomenal. We have a complete service mentality, not trying to do it our way. We really need to do well offensively, taking care of the ball, without adding negative plays. The guys with a wealth of experience like Taylor Kelly, D.J. Foster, (Jaelen) Strong, Jamil Douglas, (Tyler) Sulka, (De’Marieya) Nelson, who will play both ways for us, those guys really have to step up for us as well. We are really fast, and that is what we recruit. We are also smart, which allows us to play faster. This team is 2014, and I have a tremendous belief that we are going to get every ounce of the players’ focus and hearts, and I feel good about my chances with guys who will do what the coach will do.”

On the expectations and losses of players, and how this season’s expectations compare to other seasons in his career
“I think at this level it is different. I’ve coached just about every level, I’ve coached high school, Division II ball, high major, smallest 1A school in the country, and the biggest, and I kind of like coaching at the biggest. The problem with that is when you look at the schedule, but I don’t even think that way, I do not worry about the expectations at all. When I first got here, I lacked the expectations. I like coming in with the team being picked in the top-20 in the country and as long as you don’t get picked first you have a chance to win, because whenever a team is picked first they never seem to win. To be picked eighteenth in the country is respect, that’s expectation, winning six or seven games is not going to get it. So that is a good job that is where you want to be. I hope that in the near future, anything less than a double-digit wins, or anything less than a Pac-12 championship. That is the way our expectations are going to be, we’re not making any outlandish predictions that is what our program is going to be about. It is what we will be about on the field, off the field, in the classroom, everything that we do, that is how we are going to do it.“

On the strides Salamo Fiso has made since his freshmen year:
“I think he is past last year, to be brutally honest, and being a freshman All-America and having the success that he has as a freshman, and then we’re on him to take it to the next level, and guys try to fight against that, they like where they are at. He was not getting to where we wanted him to get in the spring, but he has had an incredible first part of camp, he was unbelievable today in the scrimmage. He has really stepped up to the role, he’s rushing the passer on third-down, he’s the quarterback, Darby last year was really kind of the cornerback who could do most of the communication and Chris (Young) would be the other person yelling, and he is really the guy who is communicating. I am watching him now coach, and teach some of the other guys and I am really pleased with his performance and we have a second linebacker. It’s easier to say it, but it has been a challenge, it has been a slow process, but he is the guy we really need on the field for communication, his words are very demanding and definitive on the field, he is definitely the guy we need to rely on for that experience. I think Lloyd (Carrington) is someone who has really given me comfort defensively to have a boundary corner, a corner that is playing at the level that he is at. We are probably deeper at corner than we have been, we have one corner right now as good as we’ve had here in Lloyd (Carrington), and we have a lot that could potentially be but that second corner position right now is not where it was at the end of last year. We have the talent to do it, we just have to develop it. Linebacker-wise, I think that defensively, the biggest concern right now is that position, I feel like everything else is going well and we are progressing to where we need to be."

On the challenge as a coaching staff to get players in the right position:
“It makes me a little unpopular with my staff. I have probably been real unpopular with Coach Norvell the last week and a half. He didn’t like it when I moved some of his guys around. Keith (Patterson), Mike (Norvell), and I meet and we really work hard to try to get guys in the right spots. De’Marieya Nelson is one of the best 3-backs in the Pac-12, could be one of the best in the country, but we need him to play Devil. In doing that, we moved Antonio Longino, and we have liked what we have seen from him. Chans Cox has gotten a lot better. Marcus Washington has some different dynamics at that position. We feel like De’Marieya (Nelson), he is going to be a guy that plays 20 snaps on offense and 40 snaps on defense. We will get him as many snaps as we can. We need to be creative in how we go about doing that. You have to be adaptive. That’s one of the things I learned as a high school coach. You don’t get to recruit whoever you wanted, so I had to kind of adapt to my players. Today we didn’t pressure as much and we were really successful. Tylor Whiley is a guy who is in the two deep rotation on offense, but we think his upside is on defense. That’s what I think, but obviously Coach Norvell has a different opinion. We are going to develop those guys to work really well in those spots. If a guy can start on one side of the ball, he is not going to be a backup on the other side. I have never done what we are doing with De’Marieya Nelson.”

“The biggest thing is not beating yourself. There a lot of talented guys, but here in our system, with the complexity of what we do, we have to have guys that do what the coaches want them to do. Not 98% of the time, 100%. I talked to some of the freshmen today and told them that you are the one keeping yourself of the field because you absolutely cannot play in our system if you don’t operate within the system. Getting the guys in the right spot is a challenge. Sometimes they don’t work out, but sometimes you have to figure that out. Repetition is important so you can’t just be moving people all over the place. We have kind of settle down in terms of moving guys to get them in the right spot. I think the most important thing that we do is get the best 11 guys on the football field.”

On the progression of Taylor Kelly:
“One of the great challenges we have this year is how do we make our quarterback better. We don’t want him to be like he was last year. We want him to be a Pac-12 Championship quarterback. Some of that requires us to let go of some of our control. Taylor Kelly needs to be the offensive coordinator for our offense on that field. Part of that is us letting go of him and that is hard to do. Mike has done a great job of working with that. Not having negative plays is a big thing we are going to have to work on.”

On the offensive line:
“I think the job Coach Thomsen has done has been unmatched by anybody here. He has done a phenomenal job. Coach Shipp and I were watching film yesterday and I said how good do you think they are up front. He looked at me and said, really good. It gives me a lot of confidence because we are going to be able to run the football up front because of our o-line. I think some of the moves we made there are really critical. Getting guys in the right spots.”

On replacing Carl Bradford:
“We don’t really have a put your hand down guy this year, and we have to figure out how we tweak that schematically, how do we get the right guys, and how do we form that. We have had to make some adjustments to do that. That is what I love about coaching.”

On the learning curve for the younger players:
“Even though we are very proactive, one of the things we pride ourselves on is transitioning our Junior College players and transition our freshmen. We have had four Freshmen All-Americans last year. You look at the success of Marion Grice, Jaelen Strong, and Chris Young. We have done a really good job of transitioning guys in a hurry at a pretty high level on the football field. Our guys are smart, but still it is a lot and they have done very well. This is kind of a critical time right around the week and a half and two-week area is where they shut down or they get it, where we get them to trust the system. I think we are ahead of the game. We have everything installed on both sides of the ball. It is the fastest, even faster than last year, in installing what we are doing. I think we still have a lot of work to do in adapting, a lot of work to do fundamentally.

On Special Teams:
“Special teams is going to be very important. We have to be the best in the Pac-12. I feel like our kickers have been good. I feel like we have really good talent and a lot of speed so we could be really strong on special teams.”

On the development of the Pac-12 Conference:
“I hate the speculation on who is the best. I’m glad we get to play it on the field. We respect the tradition of the game, we always want to be affiliated with the Rose Bowl. You can keep those things in-tact and still have a great playoff system. There needs to be great respect given to the conference champion.  In my opinion the two toughest leagues are the SEC and the Pac-12 and it is hard to go undefeated. The way we schedule outside the conference, if you lose a non-conference game and you go through and win the Pac-12 Championship and you have one loss, you might not get in that championship game. I am hoping we are eventually going to have an automatic bid for the championship game. I think we should give the fans what we want too. We have scheduled Michigan State, Texas A&M, and LSU, and I think people are pretty pleased with the non-conference teams we are playing. The reputation of the league is well deserved when they see the games actually played. Top to Bottom I can feel comfortable saying we are one of the two best conferences.”

On the defensive line depth:
“We don’t have a lot of freedom on the defensive line. We are very thin. Those young guys have been a great blessing that they have come in and they can play right away. Obviously Marcus (Hardison) was a guy that switched in-and-out with Gannon Conway last year, but he has to step his game way up. He had a really good scrimmage today. We should have Jaxon Hood back soon. I think Jaxon (Hood), Marcus (Hardison), Mo (Latu), and (Edmond) Boetang are guys that we need. Antonio Longino has had a great last four or five practices. We don’t have a lot of experience or depth so we are going to have to stay healthy and get that experience and continue to grow. The success of our defensive side will be predicated on how well we develop the interior of our defensive line and how well we can get pressure on the quarterback. We are going to have to do that with four, we can’t always do that with six.”

Deputy head coach/offensive coordinator Mike Norvell

On who they can see as a player that can move around on offense:
“I think obviously we’ll still be able to move D.J. (Foster) around a little bit. We’re still with our two backs because of the different running backs that we have. I think a guy like Kody Kohl that can line up in the slot and also can line up in the backfield. Kind of marring what Chris did a little bit. People talk about De’Marieya (Nelson) playing defense. I think he’ll get the same amount of snaps, if not more offensively. We still have his roll of what he’s doing defensively. He’s in great shape and we’re going to be able to chart and kind of get a good sense of where he’s going to be. I think you’ll see a lot of De’Marieya Nelson and I think you’ll see a lot of the different running backs that we have that will line up. I mentioned Demario Richard, Deantre Lewis. If you look at our receivers, we’re going to have some guys that can do a little bit of both. I think we have a good mix of versatile guys that are going to help great and give us solid matchups.”

Quarterback Taylor Kelly

On the Heisman race:
“It is defiantly a goal of mine. However, the main goal is Rose Bowl, Pac-12 Championship, and National Championship. If we achieve our teams goals, I have not doubt in my mind that all individual goals will come true for me.”

On pressure for this year’s defensive team:
“I don’t fell pressured. They have done a great job in the spring and fall camp. We are so athletic and young on the other side of the ball. If all eleven guys does what Coach Graham wants, I have no doubt in my mind that they are going to be the best defense in football.”

On being under the radar in the Pac-12:
“I have a chip on my shoulder. I have always been under the radar and being from Idaho, I just need to go out there and prove people wrong. I have full confidence in what I can and can’t do. I try to be the hardest working player on the field and prove people wrong and get us wins.”

On areas of improvement:
“I am working on my pocket presence. I need to trust my big offensive line and make those big time throws.”

On offensive line:
“The offensive line is one of the best I have ever been around. They can be the best offensive line in the country. Their movement, physicality, and just the way the play as a unit is unbelievable. I would not be able to do all the things that I do on the field without those guys.”

On where the team is going:
“We are going to be one of the teams with great team chemistry. We can about each other. We are going to have a great season this year.” 

Running back D.J. Foster

On Taylor Kelly and his leadership:
“I think the world of Taylor. I think he’s number 1 in my books in every category. What he has done with the limited time coming in here and with a new head coach, leading and guiding the team, just how far we have come from his first season to last season. What he has done as a leader. I wouldn’t want to go to war with very many people, but I definitely would go to war with him. I definitely think he’s a kind of silent assassin. He’s not a screamer, he’s not going to yell at you, but he pulls you aside, when he looks at you and tells you something, he means business. I definitely trust his leadership. I never second guess on that.”

On how Arizona State looks at the Arizona game:
“That’s always something that’s always on our schedule and has a star next to it. I think it’s good that we don’t focus on them as much until that time comes. I feel like we’re focused on something bigger and better now. We’re focused on Championship and Rose Bowl. I think that’s a good thing that we’re not always thinking about them (Arizona) and just thinking about all the other games that we’re trying to get by. Of course, when that time comes, we’re full of focus and that’s a game that you never take a second step on. You give everything you got in that game and we always look for a win in that game.”

On trio of Foster, Strong, and Kelly:
“It helps that we have a year or two under our belts. The time of conformability and game experience together is something you can’t teach. If we work hard, all three of us and the whole team have the pieces to bring everything together.”  

Wide receiver Ellis Jefferson

On what’s different about this camp than last year:
“I understand things more. I see the defense more. That’s what I did over the summer. I studied the defense and my coverages. I know the plays more and I understand the concepts more, so with that being said, I can move to outside receiver and inside receiver. When I first got here I was playing inside receiver. And then with me being gotten hurt and getting the redshirt, I got moved to the spring to outside receiver. Now I know all of the positions, the 5 and the 9. I like the 9 better. When I get my opportunity to go in, I’ll make the most of it.”

On how the first year in the strength and conditioning program has helped him:
“It’s done a lot. Coach Griswold has helped me out so much. When I came in here, I couldn’t do one rep of 225. I couldn’t do one at all. I was struggling with 185. I did 4 (when I did the 225) and that’s a start, so I was really happy about that. That’s something I need to improve on with my long arms.”

On consistent and practice being key to starting:
“Yes, they are key to starting. I want all the reps I can get. Jaelen has shown what he can do. I have not shown what I can do, yet. I need all the reps I can get to show the coaches I am ready to play on Saturdays.”

On competition at the wide receiver position:
“Although, it we are competing against each other, we still help each other out. Jaelen helps me and I help him. We want what is best for the team. At the end of the day it is about who knows the plays and who wants it more.” 

Defensive tackle Mo Latu

On how he is feeling physically:
“My knees feel 100 percent. Everything is all ready to go for the season. Coach Griswold and the training staff and everyone in strengthening staff has helped me out with it.”

On his conditioning:
“I’m doing a lot better than I thought I would do. I’m doing a lot better with my endurance and stamina, so I’m very proud of myself right now.”

On the defense from last season to this season:
“It was definitely a challenge for everyone, especially losing all those starters and leaders. A lot of people had to step up to becoming a leader and taking the challenge of becoming a starter. So it has been a great challenge that everyone has accepted.”

On working with the newcomers:
“All the veterans are stepping up and helping them out. Whether it’s us sitting around the dorm room, at the training table, we’re definitely helping out with little key things that they haven’t picked up on yet.”

Tight end De’Marieya Nelson

On the camaraderie of this year’s team:
“I think this the closest team I’ve ever been apart of. Everybody loves being with each other. We don’t ever get tired of being around each other. On and off the field, at the stadium, we’re around each other all day. Even when we go home, there’s plenty of us together. The brotherhood is very strong.

On getting chance of being a Devil Backer:
“I let him (Coach Graham) know that I’ll do whatever to help the team out. I believe in what he’s trying to do, I believe in our coaching staff, and I understand it would be something to help the team. 

“It is a great position. I love the defensive side of the ball. I like the physical part, it allows me to be more aggressive.” 

On playing on both sides of the ball and special teams:
“I feel like it’s a mindset. We have great strength coaches that have been preparing us for this long season. We’ve been grinding all offseason, so I feel that I’m ready for it.”

“I feel really strong about this defense. We are a lot closer. Closer as a whole team, period. We are ready to make a statement. We have plenty of talented players on defense and the depth the coaches are creating are unbelievable.” 

“I think you will see a couple flashes of me on special teams. From what I have heard, I was getting taken off special teams with me already playing on both sides of the ball.” 

Defensive back Damarious Randall

On goals for the upcoming season for the defense:
“I feel very very confident, because this year we aren’t going to have 11 starters, but we’ll have 17 starters up on defense. Since we’ll have more and more depth, it’ll help us in the later part of the year. I think we’ll have more and more relentless effort running into the ball this year.”

On if there is rival between Randall and Taylor Kelly:
“Yeah, we actually have been competing since I first got here. I mean, Taylor and I used to talk back and forward a lot because he is the starting Quarterback and I being Free Safety is like the quarter back of the defense. It was just basically a small friendly rival.”

On how many interceptions he has on Taylor Kelly:
“Just this fall camp, I want to say about three on him” 

Wide receiver Eric Lauderdale

On adjustment to major college football:
“Things have been different, real fast. I have been adjusting by getting in the playbook.”

On his first camp:
“The plays are real fast. I will be honest; I am not out there with the first strings. I will be out there soon once every thing starts to click quicker. Coach says I think too much.”

On his own expectations for himself:
“I just want to help the team. I am just a junior so I have another year. I am not trying to be ‘that guy’ right now because we have DJ Foster, Jaelen Strong, and Taylor Kelly. When it works out for me, it will happen.”

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