Tom Holmoe Press Conference
The Arizona State Sun Devil football team is a very good team. In the preseason magazines, they were picked to finish in the middle of the pack due to the number on the guys they lost . Their staff has done a very good job with the players in this transition period.
One of the big successes has been at quarterback. Ryan Kealy has done a very good job of filling the shoes of Jake Plummer, who was probably one of the better quarterbacks to ever come out of there. Going from a four-year starting senior to a redshirt freshman is a dramatic change. But he has been the big difference for them this season.
They've also had a number of other players who have come in and done a marvelous job. They have a lot of big play kids and their defense is playing well. They also have a very solid secondary. You hear a lot about corner tandems, but they have two safeties that are very good. Mitchell Freedman is a big hitter and a very solid player, while Damien Richardson is a very smart, sharp player who does a lot to tie their defense together. He is both a good run defender as well as a good cover guy. They lost two very good linebackers from last year but have been able to find good replacements to fill in.
Arizona State really showed what the experience of making a championship Rose Bowl run can do for a team in last week's win over Washington State. They didn't panic when Washington State grabbed the lead, they just slowly went in for the kill and came away with the win.
I think they see themselves now with an opportunity to finish high in the conference and the national rankings if they take care of business over the next there games. We are the first order of business for them.
As far as our side of things, we had a good win last week. It's great to be back on the winning side of the ledger and now we have an opportunity to carry on. We know we are facing a team that is very good, but I think that we have some confidence built up. It's a home game and we know that if we win our last three, we'll end up with a 6-5 record and who know where we can go from there.
Q: Is ASU's freshman quarterback prone to the typical freshman mistakes?
A: No, he really isn't. I was looking through the Pac-10 Conference statistics and there is not one quarterback that's a senior. So it's amazing that all of them are doing fairly well. A lot of the talk goes to the top three where they talk about Brock Huard (Washington), Ryan Leaf (Washington State) and Cade McNown (UCLA). But Ryan Kealy is a pretty darn good quarterback. He has played very well this year. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes, but he's young and has a lot to learn. He has the tools, but he doesn't have to carry the team on his shoulders. I think you could compare him to Brock Huard in that they are not asked to carry the complete weight of the team.
Q: Because ASU has such a good secondary, do you have any concerns in that area this week?
A: Washington State threw the ball very well against ASU, but what you saw in that game was that they went to more than one receiver. And that's key. Washington State has many weapons and a lot of guys caught balls which enabled them to throw for a lot of yardage. That is a pretty good example of what we need to do. It was good to see Dameane (Douglas) come up with a big game last week when Bobby (Shaw) was a little down. Hopefully Bobby will be back to full strength and will increase the output of Bruce Pierre, Phillip Pipersburg and Deltha O'Neal.
Q: Are you sensing a defensive turnaround?
A: Well, it was certainly a good start to a turnaround. Turnarounds have to endure through weeks. If we can prove it again this week that would be a good sign because Arizona State possesses a very formidable offense. I'd like to think that we corrected some mistakes. There were a few things that happened that in the game that weren't to our liking, but it was much improved over the past few weeks.
Q: Do you anticipate a change in the kicking game?
A: Yes. We are going to start out with Tim Wolleck doing the kicking. We believe that he deserves the opportunity. We've been struggling the last couple of weeks in that area ,and it's time to make that change.
Q: Caleb Brown got his first start last week. Can you talk a little about him?
A: Caleb Brown was a highly recruited player who got the opportunity to play relatively early after arriving here. Unfortunately, he has had a lot of injuries. That has hurt the team because he is a guy we have counted on to be a player. To have him back in the line-up and play well very positive for our team. I think moving Jeremy (Newberry) to the guard position is good. Jeremy at center was good -- I think he's one of the most dominant centers in the nation. But it's nice to have him at guard with John Welbourn next to him at tackle.