Rose Bowl Media Conference
Dec. 28, 2000
Rick Neuheisel, Washington Head Coach'Despite this lingering cold, I am having a great time and so is ourteam. We are enjoying all the sights and sounds of the Rose Bowlhospitality. Had a great time at Lawry's last night. I want tocompliment you on the new design of the watches. I thought the oldwatches were a classic, but the new one is spectacular. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs from our team. They're enjoying everything. We'll go to the Jay Leno show tonight and after that, I think we'll realize thatwe're here to play a football game. We've practiced well. Yesterday was the first time we had some lethargy in the effort and only because we've been on our legs. There's plenty of time to get rest and get our legs back and explode on Monday when it's time to play our best.'
(On Purdue's similarity to other Pac-10 schools)
'We see a variety offormations. When we break down via computer the different offenses, you notice there haven't been a lot of different formations played against Purdue, meaning that the Big Ten is a little more 21 personnel, meaningtwo wide receivers, two backs, one tight end. Pro formation, 'I'formation, smashmouth football. Purdue is the odd soldier there, withtheir own idea of how to play offense. We've seen those formations, but do we have an answer how to stop them, I'm not sure, especially when the triggerman is as talented as Drew Brees.'
(On fourth quarter play by UW)
'I don't' know if I can put a finger onit. There's an old axiom in coaching that you achieve what youemphasize. When I first arrived (at UW) after the 6-6 season I lookedat the different statistics to figure out how to take our program from 6-6back to a place where we can win a Pac-10 championship. The one statthat was glaring was the lack of success Washington had that year in the fourth quarter. It was a great disparity. My opening comments in spring before the 1999 season, we said we wanted to win the Pac-10championship, but then you have to say how we're going to do it. I said if we couldjust turn around what we did in the fourth quarter and just flip thosenumbers, to get ourselves to score those 100 points and hold ouropponents to 30-something, we can win all those close games that gotaway from us and put ourselves back in the Rose Bowl picture. Last year wehad a definite change for the better and this year we were dominant inthe fourth quarter.'
(On Pac-10 tradition at the Rose Bowl and BCS)
'If we can get Dunkel and Billingsley to start watching some Pac-10 football, we might be in thisposition again next year. Every year, you line up and try to when thePac-10 championship. There is great reward in that. Where you go fromthere obviously for many years has been the Rose Bowl. Next year itdoesn't guarantee that, but there will a great reward regardless ofwhich BCS game you get to go to and for one year I don't see that as a majorfaux pas in the history and tradition of all this. The Rose Bowl to meis the greatest of all the games and for it to be the site of a nationalchampionship game, I think the Rose Bowl deserves it.'
(On being underdogs)
'We've been underdogs almost since I arrived. We're comfortable in that position. I don't make a big point of it to the team, but I think there are people out there who aren't sure about, one, Pac-10 football and two, the Washington team, how talented are we, did we just get lucky in these fourth quarter comebacks. Until we have theattention of everybody who deals with college football we've got to keep proving ourselves and that's really the case for the teams who are favored. It's all decided on the field so how people perceive the gameup to that point is of no consequence.'
'No question that it's arbitrary. I made light of Mr. Dunkeland Mr. Billingsley only because they don't seen to believe that we'reeven in the top 10. Until we want to do things differently, it's goingto be arbitrary. West Coast guys believe there is an East Coast bias,whether it's true or not really makes no difference. I was in thelocker room following the Washington State game and I saw how thrilled ourplayers were and that's all you can ask for, to have your team go andplay a game with as much tradition as the Rose Bowl, we're right wherewe want to be.'
(On returning to the Rose Bowl as a coach)
'I have not brought up my own personal experience as a player from a game standpoint. I've certainlybrought up how much fun you can have. I made lots of comments aboutwhat they had to look forward to just so the kids would understand that it'sa big, big deal. Everything pales in comparison to running on the field. That is absolutely a magic carpet ride to run out through the tunnels onto the field amidst the 100,000 people watching. It doesn't getbetter than that.'
(On defending Purdue's offense)
'It's a difficult chore. You've got aguy who definitely understands the offense from top to bottom. You seeit on film but you also see it in the statistic that he has been sackedonly seven times. When you throw that many times in as many formationsas they have, it's astounding that he's only tackled seven times behindthe line of scrimmage. That means he knows where all the buttons are.He knows how to get off the hook, how to call in for protection, he cansee what you are doing. We're thankful we've had a month so we canhopefully keep him a little bit off balance because that's really theonly way you can stop him. Three and outs will be preciouscommodities.'
(On his growth as a coach)
'I don't know what I have done differently.Certainly I've learned. At 33 years old and never been a coordinator,certainly there were detractors to the decision (to make him head coachat Colorado). We ended up having a great start, 10-2 and 10-2, andeverybody was excited about what the future held. Unfortunately we hadthat poor season where we went 5-6, but in my own personal growth as acoach it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Youfinally realize what this job entails. After that season I made changes and self-analysis that made me understand my role as a head coach a lot more clearly. It doesn't mean I can't have fun, it just means thatcan't be the focus. It has to be on the team, not me.'
(On Curtis Williams)
'Curtis is doing as well as he can possibly do.It's a severe injury, a C-2 injury that obliterated a ligament in hisneck that causes paralysis from the neck down. He's been unable tovoluntarily move anything from the neck down so you can imagine puttingyourself in that position how difficult it must be. Our players thinkof themselves as 10 feet tall and bulletproof. When you think of CurtisWilliams pre-injury, you think of a warrior. He was one of our bestplayers, maybe the most physical players on our team. This is a guy who really loved to play. To see him in this incapacity is a very frightening reality for a lot of our guys. Not from the physical nature of the game, but regarding each and everyone's mortality. You're not quite as invincible as you once perceived. I'm very proud of our team for being optimistic about Curtis. Curtis will make the game. He'll be flown down here and sit in the press box during the game and I think they're gonna try to get him down to the locker room so the players cansay hello. It will be an emotional time because this was one of theleaders on the squad.'
Joe Tiller, Purdue Head Coach(On moving from Wyoming to Purdue)
'We had a lot of confidence in our system and I did feel like going into the Big Ten at that time. Youcertainly don't advertise that up front, but I did feel going to the Big Ten, that we might have a little bit of an edge on the competition in terms of the newness of the offense and the fact that they hadn't seenit. The first couple of years the schedule was very forgiving, not having Ohio State and Michigan on the schedule, I thought this would give us a chance to maybe get to the postseason. Once you get there, you've got a chance to make anything happen to your program because recruits all ask the same question--what bowl are you guys going to this year, coach? If we had a plan, it was to do the same thing we did at Wyoming. Would what we did in Laramie, Wyoming work in West Lafayette, Indiana? We thought it would and certainly it has.'
(On the 2002 Rose Bowl being the national championship game)
'I'm a supporter of the BCS. It's the best we can hope...the best possiblesolution to getting to a national champion without a playoff on thefield. As a coach at Purdue, I am concerned that unless it is a bigpool, it would end up being the same teams (among the top-rated BCSteams). I guess you can argue it's the same teams right now, but Ireally don't believe that. Dennis Erickson and his staff have done agreat job at Oregon State and getting them to a BCS game. If theyhadn't had success last year and gone to a bowl game, who knows where theywould be. I like the situation the way it is as long as we're not going tohave a playoff on the field--and I don't see us having that and I'm nota supporter of that as a coach at Purdue. As far as a Big Ten team notbeing able to come to the Rose Bowl (in 2002), if that were Purdue, wewould have long faces because this is certainly the epitome of anopportunity to be involved in post-season play. But you have to play by the rules and if the rules prevent a Big Ten team from playing in the Rose Bowl, so be it. We would work extremely hard at making somethingpositive out of wherever we were going, if we have the same success wehad this year. We may not like it but we would live with it and make it a good experience.'
(On Purdue tight end Tim Stratton)
'He may be a media darling, but he's not my darling. I get along with Tim well, he understands me, heunderstands that there's a light side and a serious side. When theserious side is up, he better not be light, and vice versa. I like themix of personalities on our team and as a coach I've never put a gagrule in or closed our locker room after a game. Whether it's a great win ora heartbreaking loss, I think players need to know how to deal with thatin life, and quickly after the fact. I've never called a player in to say'don't say this or don't say that.' I have called a player in to besmart about what you're saying. Try not to be so cute to be silly. Ihaven't had any discussions with Tim Stratton since 7:57 this morning.'
(On attacking Washington's secondary)
'The problem with attackingWashington with the passing game is not necessarily the way you chooseto attack their secondary, which is a concern, but providing the protection to let your quarterback get the ball off is a real problem. We haven't faced a player the likes of Larry Tripplett. He's the best defensivelineman we've faced, maybe since we've been at Purdue. I single him out because he's such an exceptional player, but I'm very impressed with Washington's front seven and it's ability to force a negative yardageplay. That has been a point of emphasis for us. I don't know if we'llbe successful or not, we've already struck upon that theme to keepnegative yardage plays to a minimum. They'll get them, because they'retoo fast, too athletic, they come from different angles and they'llconfuse you at times. We're concerned about our protection scheme morethan we are about attacking their secondary.'
(On defending Washington's offense)
'Our plans are to contain him (Marques Tuiasosopo), not stop him. I don't think you can stop thisguy. He's too talented, too good of a runner. He's much to physical of arunner. You have to be cautious about assigning X number of defendersto stop this guy. You try to contain him, he'll gain his yards, he's gonna throw the football some and you guys around guys when they catch it, to disrupt it. He's too good for us to set a goal that we must stopTuiasosopo. I have not seen a team that has been so good in the fourthquarter. Look at their fourth quarter scoring and forget the rest ofit, that tells you a lot about this football team. We want to be in aposition in the fourth quarter to win the football game.'
(On Purdue CB Chris Clopton)
'We've tried to replace him, to put another guy in there. Clopton is our undersized (5-7, 171) corner--that waspretty well-put--actually I call him a munchkin, he's not much biggerthan a hiccup and he's out on the edge by himself all the time. He hasvery good speed and that helps him and he's experienced. He's one ofthree players that we recruited in that first class who will finish infour years. The others are (Drew) Brees and (Vinny) Sutherland.Clopton is a smallest guy on our roster and he played his first year. He's soexperienced it's hard to fool him, hard to beat him. We've got sometalented players behind him, but they can't wrested the job away fromhim. Rarely is he out of position. You might be able to out-jump him,but the games we struggled in this year, Chris Clopton at cornercertainly wasn't the reason. He's played extremely well. Sometimespeople go after him and that can prove to be a mistake.'