October 5, 2006

Devils look to get passing attack on track

After a Dirk Koetter-era record-low 33 net passing yards in the Oregon loss, the Sun Devils are attempting to use the bye week to re-establish some confidence in what has traditionally been the program's strength.

ASU always has a different bye week practice schedule, and players had two days off to recover a bit more physically than they otherwise would be able to before getting back on the field Wednesday.

Koetter said that guys were a bit fresher, even though the weather was hot, approximately 100 degree.

"Up and down, up and down a little bit," Koetter said, giving his thoughts on the workout. "But we're not going to go leaps and bounds in one two-hour session. It was pretty warm out here. The heat got us a little bit."

Perspective is an important thing when a team is going through a difficult stretch and Koetter said he believed his team can and will respond, just as it did last season, when, after a difficult three game losing streak, it finished with four wins in its final five games.

"Everyone wants to take us from a top-25 team to a bottom-10 team," Koetter said. "We're not a bottom-10 team. We've played bad the last two weeks, but there's a lot of season left to be played and these guys know we're going to get back on track. We just haven't played very well the last two weeks."

While Koetter said that he does not pay particular attention to what is being said about him or his program by the media, he admitted that he does consider what impact it has on his players.

"Every team that gets one loss, it's like their season is over because they can't go to the BCS and that's not how competitive athletics are," Koetter said. "You're going to lose some games sometimes. We don't want to lose any games, we don't try to lose any games, we don't prepare to lose any games, but when you do, and you're five games into the year you can't stop."

In order to inspire confidence and help push the program back on track, Koetter said he put together a highlight tape of quarterback Rudy Carpenter's 65 pass plays that went for more than 15 yards last season.

"I wanted to show Rudy that we're running the same plays from the same formations against the defenses," Koetter said. "That's where we get back what we said is the 20 hours you're away from this building when everyone tells you how [bad] you are as compared to turn on the film and watch reality. We're not talking about a guy who's never done it before. We're talking about a guy who's done it and done it very well."

For his part, Carpenter said that he came out of Wednesday's practice feeling better physically and perhaps emotionally than at any time in the last several weeks.

"I think it was one of the best practices we've had in a long time," Carpenter said. "I think other guys got their confidence back. We all relaxed today and kind of got back to the basics and had some fun for the first time in a while I think, including myself.

"I feel better than I have in a long time physically. Coaches gave us Monday and Tuesday off so my legs feel great. I didn't necessarily have Monday and Tuesday off but I feel a lot better and I'm 100 percent."

Carpenter has continuously denied that injuries have contributed to his recent sub-par efforts, and he reiterated that point when asked on Wednesday.

"No. Not at all," he said. "The trainers asked me the same question and I said unless you got anything that can fix my ego, then I'm all right."

With the program emotionally tattered, some frustration was aired out on Saturday following the Oregon loss, when several members of the program addressed the team, including Carpenter.

"I told the guys in the locker room last week at the end of the game, we're too buddy-buddy, we're too much friends with each other and that's causing some guys not to step up and say the things they need to," Carpenter said. "And I definitely did, I got some things off my chest and I let everybody get some things off their chest and now it's all out there and now we can get back to playing football and having fun which is what we do."

In an effort to help re-group, Carpenter said he had a lengthy meeting with the team's wide receivers.

"I said, 'look we're all making mistakes, every single one of us. You guys aren't trusting me and I'm not trusting you guys,'" Carptner said. And I said that you know what, 'let's get back to doing our jobs. You guys run the right route and I'm going to throw the ball. Whether you're there or not I'm going to throw it.' That's what we did today. I just said, 'if you're not there, I'm throwing it.' And they ran the right routes today. They ran great routes. And that's the thing we've got to get back to. I think we did a good job of that today in practice."

"I think what our problem is that we just need to be more in sync with Rudy," wide receiver Chris McGaha said. "All of our guys are talented enough, we just need to have faith in each other and keep it together. "I just feel that we have a lot of young guys and we're just trying to get through our differences with the QBs and we're just trying to get it turned around.

"Technically we're just trying to make sure that all the wide receivers are doing what they're supposed to be doing in terms of route running so we can help Rudy out so it's a better situation with him. We just need to have a better (on field) relationship with him so he'll know that we'll catch the ball if he throws it to us.

"I think it's actually the type of situation where we have more confidence (in Rudy) because we're not doing what we should be doing and everybody is just pressing harder so that we can get it right. I think [struggling] hasn't really hurt us in our confidence, it's just that we have to actually do what we're capable of and not be pressing out there."

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