TEMPE, Ariz. — On the heels of a disappointing loss to San Diego State, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham sent a message of accountability.
To his players. His fans. Himself.
“No one’s more disappointed than I am …” Graham said Monday at his weekly press conference. “As coaches, we’ve got to get our players to perform better than that.”
With the lackluster play against the Aztecs, Graham said he doesn’t blame anyone for criticizing the team and players when they play poorly but also said that type of reaction isn’t productive.
“We try to talk to our guys about controlling the things we can control,” Graham said. “That’s our attitude and effort and all you have to do is go out and perform on the field and you don’t have to worry about that kind of criticism.”
The loss that ASU suffered to San Diego State led many fans on social media to vent their anger on those sites, sometimes even directing the vitriol toward players. The ASU football Twitter account even stepped in:
Graham said he has put his heart and soul into the program and wants to make sure he gets it right.
“I don’t have any negative feelings towards anything negative because you bring it upon yourself by not performing and that’s on us as coaches,” he said. “I’m not talking about the players.”
Among his on-field concerns was the play of special teams.
“What was disappointing was we had two delay penalties and then a couple other little things,” he said. “Obviously some of the kicks were not good but all of that rest on us.”
The punting game struggled as twice sophomore Michael Sleep-Dalton shanked punts that gave the Aztecs good field position.
A traditional right-legged kicker, he has been kicking from his opposite leg due to an injury for the last two weeks.
Special teams wasn’t the only area that needed improvement, Graham said, and pointed to an offensive line that has given up 12 sacks this season. Graham said that the team needs to “get everyone on the same page” and though he believes players protected better than last week, they need to keep working hard and executing better.
Even with all the issues that came from the game, Graham said the team is “on to Texas Tech,” which will present a much different challenge than San Diego State’s pound-and-ground offense.
“Every year they’re the best passing team offense in the country, very well coached on special teams and playing a lot better defensively,” Graham said.
When Graham was asked if his secondary will be ready for the air raid offense, he answered honestly.
“You’re never ready for anything, you just get out there and do it,” Graham said.
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