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QUOTES: Football Media Day
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 08/04/2012
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Aug. 4, 2012

MEDIA DAY CENTRAL | VIDEO | BLOG | PHOTOS

Head coach Todd Graham

Opening Statment...
"We are excited obviously, very impressed with Coach Griswold and our strength staff and the progress that we’ve made this summer. We’ve had three practices really, two with the veterans and one with our newcomers at this point and are just very, very impressed with our mental conditioning and our physical conditioning and the progress that we’ve made. We’ve probably exceeded expectations there. We really feel like our guys are buying in to the things that we’re trying to get done. I feel like we’re very pleased with our coaching staff and in a very short period of time how we were able to evaluate and really bring some great young people to our program in our newcomers; which are made up of our recruits, our high school recruits and our JC recruits. So very, very impressed last night with the speed and explosive power of the newcomers and obviously it was a slower and a different setting last night but I felt really good about that. I really like our rivalry. I like our staff, really like how our guys are embracing things. So man, it’s just a joy, I love football season, obviously love doing this. You can tell that I didn’t have a very good summer program training my voice and I lost eight pounds yesterday and I had to fall asleep on my couch because there was no way I was getting in my car to drive home because my legs were too sore. So I wasn’t very prepared as far as camp, but I’m just loving it."

"I thought they had a great synergy right now and I’m just so impressed, so excited where we’re at and man we’re looking forward to each and every day and just like the synergy and energy we have and looking forward to developing this team because it is about developing a team. So much is written about the physical skills but man, it’s what’s in the hearts of the players and those relationships that are critical. So these guys have really embraced a whole lot of new, different things that we’re doing and I can’t wait to go to camp Tontozona, can’t wait to look and see all the fans there on that Saturday scrimmage, can’t wait to attempt to climb Mount Kush with the players, so just looking forward to those things. I’m just very blessed, very lucky to be doing what I do and very lucky to be doing it with who I’m doing it with. We got great people, from coaches on down, great staff here; it’s been a great coming together for the entire Sun Devil family, from the inside out. So it’s a great, great time. We’re excited and we’re excited about going and competing for championships."

On naming quarterback after Camp Tontozona…
“Yeah I just think it’s going to be very hard to do it before then. We’ve kind of changed our format just a little bit from what we normally do. In the future we’ll have probably six normal practices, then we’ll scrimmage. We’re going to have a full nine practices before we scrimmage on the 11th and then our second scrimmage will be on the 18th. I just think it’s going to be very difficult. I was very pleased with those three guys. Obviously we had them separated and it was a good evaluation day yesterday. It was an exciting day for those guys and things are different for them. We’re really basic in the spring on them and they’re facing a whole different animal, so they’re going to see a multitude of looks and pressures and things like that, so I think we’ll be able to get that evaluated. I think this week is obviously going to be big. The first scrimmage is going to be huge. Obviously coach [Mike] Norvell, that’s his job to do that, but I work with those guys and I have my part in it but when we come out of the first scrimmage we have two kind of leaders and then when you come out of that camp, I mean we play here pretty quick, so definitely that would be the latest that we need to name a starter by then."

"I don’t like it. I’d like to name one today. I’d like to name one last spring. I don’t think it’s a positive for your team. But I do think that it’s really legitimate. It’s a legitimate competition. I don’t know right now in my mind who that’s going to be. I’ve had an idea, and I’m sitting there thinking it’s kind of these two guys and then yesterday the guy I thought it wasn’t had the best day. So that’s kind of how it is right now, but it will all sort it self out in a hurry. The great thing about our situation is the three guys we have, our players have a tremendous amount of respect for all three of those guys, and they’re all great character, great leader guys. But the one that’s going to play is not going to be the one that has the best physical skills. It’s going to be the one that will take care of the ball and manage the offense. That’s it. That’s how simple it is. Because all three of them have good enough skills to run this offense. The key for us, if we own the ball, if we don’t turn the football over, we’re going to score. No doubt in my mind with the people we have out there. So we can’t do that. First day in practice we turned the ball over four times, but it wasn’t to sit there and play base defense, it was to attack them and so it was different. So that’s part of the evaluation process and that’d be the latest.”

On what skills he will look for in his QB over the next two weeks…
“Putting them in a game situation, putting them in an adverse situation. So in other words, we’re going to script, we’re going to call this play and it’s going to be a bad play and we’re going to see how they respond to that. Do they throw the ball away, do they take a sack, do they throw an interception? That’s going to be the big evaluation. I really think that, if I can be really honest with you, people will say no one player is more important than anybody else, and I’m going to tell you that if you don’t have a quarterback, you’re not winning. Period. So I do think our players respect these guys and we got a lot of good evaluation out of the spring and I kind of had a feeling where I was at and I think Coach Norvell and I were on the same page. I think that that’s the key, is put them in those situations. We didn’t do that in the spring. There was very little pressure put on them in the spring. So we’re going to script adversity for them and see how they respond to that. Also, it’s all about guys…you can’t call the right play all the time, you got to have a guy that can extend plays. I can remember the greatest plays we’ve had as an offense at Tulsa, we had a great offense in 2008, and most of those plays, a lot of the big plays, were plays the quarterback was extending the play and making a play really on his own. In college football it’s too hard. You got to have a guy that can do that."

"We’ll run two read zones, a game where the quarterback will keep the ball. Now, depending on who’s in there, how much we do that stuff will depend on the quarterback. I really think it’s going to depend on that. And I’ve challenged Coach Norville in that regard because ‘potential’ and ‘looks good’ and ‘looks the part’ and all that stuff, you got to throw all that out. If we don’t turn the football over, that’s the key to being successful. We’re putting on a whole new scheme with offense, defense, special teams and these guys are really picking it up. They’re ahead of where I thought they would be, but if you turn the football over. That’s what going to happen to us early. You’re going to take care of it or you’re not. And that’s going to determine whether you win or you don’t. And we have to win early. Because every single day we’re going to be getting better. So if we can have success early, that’s going to be the key. So we got to have a quarterback in there that’s just going to take the ball and say ‘bad play throw it away’, pull it down and run. With all the right intentions, try to make something happen. So that’s the big thing.”

On emphasizing the need to stop turnovers…
“Our guys sleep with a ball, they carry it around everywhere. I talk to them about character and who we are and all those things. We have one mission. We’re developing all those things through training in the summer programs, spring and all that. Now we come into the fall, we got one mission as a football team right now. One mission: own the football. That’s it. We want to get the ball on defense, get the ball back for our offense. Period. And our guys are having fun. I went out there today and you never know really how these guys are going to keep picking up some of the things that you watch, practice during the team session, or some of the things that a little bit complicated. These guys like it, and I’ve got some guys that can pick it up, and we got some explosive guys, so I’ve been excited about what our potential is defensively. But that’s the biggest challenge, that’s where the big learning curve is, defensively. So we’re spending all the time, every day at the end of practice all we like to talk about with our players is one thing: how did we take care of the ball on offense and how do we attack the ball of defense? Special teams, did we own the ball or did we get the ball? I know it sounds very simple, but I’m very simple minded when it comes to that. That’s all we emphasized. In practice number one, we turned it over four times. So that’s not good. Now, who didn’t turn it over? That’s the one that’s catching my eye. Because that’s going to be the key. So we spend a lot of time with that, obviously we have our players in every meeting and they have their ball with them with their name on it. They carry it on the shuttle on the way over to practice. If we have one of our linemen who can strip it from them and get it, then they get a reward. And it’s just all about emphasis. I just think you get what you emphasize. You have too many people going, ‘we’re going to be the number one offense, we’re going to have all these stats.’ I don’t care about stats. I just want to take care of the football. If we take care of the football, then I believe we’re going to win.”

On the balance between typically lower expectations for a new program and winning in the first year…
“The words that you just said, I think I heard them from our staff members throughout the spring and you’re actually the first one that’s uttered that in this building this year. Because we don’t even say that. I think that that’s a complete cop-out. Obviously, we’re in some big time recruiting battles right now. Kids want to go to a big time program. I’m just being honest. If I sit here and say, well, you know, it’s just going to take time. I don’t think they want to hear that. And I really don’t think that’s the reality of it. It’s just not in my mindset to approach things that way. I just believe you can get what you expect. Is it going to be easy? No. Are we going to face a lot of adversity? Yes. Can we win a championship this first year? Yes we can. That’s what or mission is going to be. If we lead the Pac-12 in taking care of the ball, and we lead the Pac-12 in take-aways, then we’ll win the league. So that’s what we’re focused on. Success breeds success. I didn’t take this job thinking you couldn’t win in the first year. So I’m just being honest with you. I like that. I like to compete. I remember my first job. If you would have asked me that question in my first job, I would have said the same thing. I came here to win championships. That team was 1-11 the year before. We came out, lost the first four in a row. Then everybody said what do you think abut what you said now? We just keep our head down and keep working, and we won seven of the next eight and went to a bowl game. I don’t really want to go to just a bowl game. I want to win a championship. I think Cameron Marshall deserves that from this program. I think these kids deserve it. How in the world can I ask them to do all the things I’m asking them to do? And I’m telling you, if you’re around here, the expectations of what we expect from them in the classroom. We improved our class attendance 78%. We raised our G.P.A. from 2.2 a spring ago to 2.56. Everything you do, total accountability, from your language, to how you interact socially. And not when it’s just doing the minimum. Every person in this program does community service, and you haven’t heard anything about it, because we don’t want to do it that way. How can I have the highest expectations on these players and ask them to do anything except win every day, win every game. I don’t know how to function any other way then to go and win. I’m not making outlandish statements. We got picked fifth in the league. When we won the conference championship, the last one I won, we were picked ninth. I’ve been picked first twice, and got runner-up. So that’s why I don’t really look at all that stuff. Do we have the talent? Yes we do. Are we thin? Yeah. Do we have to stay healthy? Yes we do. Do we have to do a great job of coaching? Yes we do. Do we have to come together in a hurry? Is everything new? Yes, those are all excuses. So our program, period, is going to be about winning championships.”

On a new coaching program…
“It isn’t all about Todd Graham. When I walked in, I told everybody to get out. It was me and the players. I sat down and I asked them what they wanted to do. What they wanted to do with their program. What their goals and what their expectations were going to be. We talked about our value system. I asked each one of them to give me permission. If you come and watch practice, I coach them pretty hard. I don’t cuss them, or demean, or demoralize them either, but I coach them hard. And when you walk out the door, look at our meeting room door, what it says on it. It has a picture of this crystal ball in a person’s hands, and it has our goals written right there on that board. That’s what the expectations are and the reaction is that I think people, you can say whatever you want to say, it doesn’t really matter what I say to you, it matters when I go back there and shut my door what I really believe. I really believe this stuff. I really believe. I’ve won a national championship as an assistant coach in 1993 and we started off with the same thing. We said we were going to be national champions, and I’ll tell you, I was shocked that we were. We went from a team that was in the gutter for three years to winning a national championship. You just don’t doubt and put parameters on young people and what they can do. It’s just the way I operate and the way we go about doing things. It really is the expectations. I sat down with Cameron and those guys and said hey man, what do you want to do? And they want to win a Pac-12 Championship. These kids believe they can. They thought they should have last year and they were upset about it. It was just a very slow deal; it was very close, lost some very close games that were critical. I don’t have a problem convincing these kids that they can win. I think we’re going to have to do a great job of coaching and that’s what they pay us to do.”

Defensive Tackle Corey Adams
On leading the underclassman and how it motivates him…
“This is my fourth year here, all the experience I have had –good and bad –I can act as a mentor and just lead by example, doing whatever I can to help these guys because I am out of here in four months, so whatever I can do to help I will because these are the guys that will be here after me.”

On his desires and expectations for his last season…
“Honestly, I want to graduate but before that I am going to be with this family and I want to take this thing as far as it can go. Based off Coach Graham and the philosophy that we have all bought into, I think we are going to go places.”

Running Back D.J. Foster
On his confidence in the team’s immediate success…
“I am very confident. Among our running backs, we also have a very good backfield, lot of upper classman so I am learning a lot. For the quarterback situation, I have trust in each and every one of them. They all do some good things very well and they have their own strong suits. They are all leaders too, which I think is the best part. You really can’t go wrong. At the end of the day all three of them are great leaders so I think we will be fine.”

On the competition among the running back position and desire to play as a true freshman…
“I want to play as a true freshman, whether that is at running back or slot. I’ll play wherever they need me- I’m just along for the ride and just want to be a part of the team and wherever I can get on the field.”

On his relationship with Larry Porter…
“It has been great. Since camp started I have really gotten to bond [with Coach Porter]. He has really taught me a lot. He expects a lot out of me and the running back group. I have a lot of respect for him and I am happy that he is here.”

Linebacker Brandon Magee
On his definition of a successful season…
“Undefeated. Point Blank.”

Safety Alden Darby
On the leaders amongst the team including himself…
“Myself, Brandon McGee, Cameron Marshall, and Will Sutton. Coming up, Rashad Wadood, is a guy to watch to be a leader because of his control and a lot of the young linebackers that have it as well." 

On what you need to do on the field to be a leader
“Making them trust me: knowing that I am not going to get the wrong check or the wrong call, knowing that when they look right I am going to be doing what I am supposed to do.  Showing them, leading by example not always just talking about it. Bringing the energy, bringing the juice as Coach calls it, just being who I am allows me to be a leader.”

Offensive Lineman Jamil Douglas
On Summer Workouts…
“Coach [Griswold], he is amazing. He did a great job this summer getting us in shape we have never done some of the stuff that he put us through this year.”

On Cameron Marshall…
“We just want to get Cameron through the line of scrimmage because Cameron can make things happen on his own; but if we get through the line of scrimmage we know its going to be a positive pick up.”

On what he needs to do to protect the people he needs to protect…
“Whoever is back there we have to protect them. Whether is Eubank, Burk or Taylor, we have to protect each and every one of them.”

On the difficulty of working with multiple quarterbacks…
“Sometimes it can be difficult because some of them do their o-cadences a little different. One might be faster than the other but it is pretty much the same.”

On the adaptation to Graham’s fast paced offense…
“Spring it was pretty tough but Grizz [Griswold] got us in shape this off-season, so I think once we get on this game field we will be able to go one through four no problem.”

On the players that have helped him the most…
“Evan Finkenberg, Andrew Sampson, so many have helped. The quarterbacks all of them too, Michael Eubank is young but he really pushes me to work hard. They have taught me that I have to continue to work hard, I have to get better at certain things, not to be content if I do one good thing not to take the next play off, just continuing to work.”

Defensive Lineman Mike Pennel
On expectations for the defense…
“We have a whole lot of talent at the DB position, our linebackers and even our defensive line. We are not as small as some people think on our defensive line so I am real excited for that to show everybody what we can do in the PAC.”

On the teammates that have helped him out most….
“I might have to say Corey Adams and Will Sutton have helped me the most in learning the terminology. Coach Randolph has taken me under his wing and had me watching extra film just to get a handle on everything and knowing the playbook.”

Quarterback Mike Bercovici
On Coach Graham…
“His southern accent is so funny to me because growing up you watch a movie like Friday Night Lights it is just real Texas football. He talked about at the end of practice today about how much he loves football and hates to lose.”

On the changing environment…
“One of the first things he did coming in here is he wants to ask us to take our earrings off when we walk us into the building, he also asks us to take our hats off in the building and no headphones in the building. When he first came in here he asked us to do it now he’s telling us to do it because the way we walk, talk and present ourselves, not only in here, but outside the stadium is a representation of our football program.” 

Linebacker Steffon Martin
On his strength and conditioning…
“As far as conditioning and strength I’m pretty good. They put it on me with my first two weeks here so I caught up pretty quickly.”

On the pace of the practices...
“The speed is a little faster. The pace is way faster with the no huddle offense, you have to get your calls down quick and stay focused.”

Defensive Back Ezekiel Bishop
On being comfortable in the new defensive scheme…
“This scheme is very similar to my high school when we ran the 3-3-5 defense. I am very familiar with the strengths and weakness, it is all the same just different terminology.”

On his health update…
“My knee has come a long way, my recovery has been long and I am ready to go. I am cleared for fall camp so I am excited and happy.”

Quarterback Taylor Kelly
On the Quarterback Competition…
“I just have to go out and compete and have fun. I can control what I can do on the field and I am not to worried about what they’re doing but I am just picking up on what they do right and what they do wrong and going out and having fun.”

On what he learned from Brock Osweiler…
“Just being comfortable in the pocket, going through your reads and just trying to make the game slower in your mind instead of having it go fast.”

Quarterback Michael Eubank
On areas of improvement…
“Something I think I need to work on is my footwork. More consistency, because I have noticed that when my footwork is not as good, then my ball is not as good; but when my footwork is up to par, my ball is coming out excellent. That is definitely something I am working on.”

On his feelings of the running based offense…
“That aspect is huge. We have a deep stable of running backs and all of our running backs are good, they are all are playmakers. Being that we have leadership and experience in the running back position is definitely going to benefit this team greatly.”

Safety Keelan Johnson
On his job in the new scheme…
“I know (the corners) are going to take care of what they need to do so it allows me to do what I need to do and vice versa.”

On his legacy as a senior…
“It is coming to that last grain of the hourglass and being here I just want to go out with a big bang, take the guys that came in here with me and Corey and go out the right way.”

Running Back D.J. Foster
On the biggest adjustment to practices…
“Just being in shape, the tempo of the practice its one thing to watch, but to actually participate in that it is definitely a big jump. It is fast, everything is faster.”

On the importance of ball security…
“Its 100 percent everything. They stress that. Everything they say is on the ball; offense you don’t lose the ball, defense they want to take the ball from you.”

Defensive End Junior Onyeali
On the new schemes…
“I think a lot of times last year we studied a lot of blitzes but we never ran too many. We practiced a lot but we never ran them in games and I think that sort of took us all off a little bit, so definitely if we can keep what we do in practice in games that will definitely help us.” 

On the simplification of the defense…
“They help us understand the offense, like we know what personnel they are in, we know what formation they are in. Everything like that and knowing that helps us out a lot.” 

Cornerback Deveron Carr
On his role…
“I feel like my role is most definitely from a corner standpoint is just to try to get everybody on the board that I can and try to give everybody that veteran knowledge. I feel like you know we have a lot of young players, but we have a lot of great players.”

On what got him to this point…
“Just spending long hours in the training room, doing what the doctors and trainers asked me to do. Coming in when everybody was on break, coming in the morning and getting the job done. Accountability, discipline and the will and want to get better got me here.”

On this years off season regiment…
“This year’s off-season regiment was actually difficult. I feel like it was very difficult from a workout standpoint. We were used to a lighter workout but this whole summer was a heavy load, 2,800 yard conditioning days. That speaks something and I feel like that did a great deal. I believe that that type of conditioning will weed out the players that want to play here and the players that don’t. The guys that are here, that for sure says something about them that they are all in this year, because nobody would put themselves through that type of conditioning if they were not all in.”

On this years expectation and his hopes…
“I am trying to go out with a bang. I want to have my best season that I have had here. Yet, alone I have had but I am setting my goals high and hopefully I will do everything that I want to do and look forward to laying at the next level.”

 

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