Erickson Meets The Press

Sept. 4, 2001

(On New Mexico State in general) 'They're a team that's played two football games and started against an awfully good Louisville football team and played them very well, they had a chance to win it in Louisville. Then they played Texas at Texas last week against an awfully good football team and played well against them. They don't have any wins, but like last week, it's the first game they've played at home and they're a football team that has talent.

'Offensively, they're like Nebraska in that they run it right at you. It's a football team that is going to run it first, run the option, do some of the things that we haven't had an opportunity to deal with and don't deal with a heck of a lot in our league. They do some different things, so defensively we have to shore things up as far as the running game is concerned and see something that we haven't seen.

'On defense, they're very similar to Fresno State in their scheme. They'll blitz you a lot, play a lot of eight-man fronts. Against Texas, they probably blitzed three-quarters of the time. Again, it's something we're going to have to prepare for. Obviously, they're going to try to take the running game away from us, which is what Fresno State did last week and it worked very, very well for them. It's something we're going to have to deal with, we're going to have to learn to block some of the line movements better than we did. Hopefully, with a game under our belt, we're going to be able to do that in our offensive line.

'It's a game where we have to go down and improve. That's the biggest thing for us right now - improving and getting better. Going down there and getting beat as convincingly as we got beat, there are no ifs or ands about it, they outplayed us in all aspects, they played with more emotion, they kicked our rear ends. There are no excuses, it just happened. Fresno State should be congratulated and is a good football team. Now we have to deal with the circumstances we're dealing with and have to come back and continue to get better all the time. And we will - we have some talent on our football team and we have a lot of perseverance and leadership, so I expect us to get better this week down in Las Cruces.

(What was the first thing that went wrong at Fresno State?) 'There were a lot of things. No. 1, we went into a place that was a buzzsaw. We knew that when we went in there, and they were very motivated, it was a big game for them, and they played with a lot of motivation - probably more than we did, for whatever reason. That's how it was. They played with tremendous enthusiasm.

'There were a couple things. No. 1, we couldn't run the football and that was a real key. We went in there with the idea, like we have the last couple years, that we were going to run the football and do that first, and hopefully get ourselves in situations that we could throw it. That didn't happen. We didn't block in the running game like we should have and it got us into long-yardage situations, and put us in situations throwing the football where we had some success doing it, but we got behind and probably had to do it more than we wanted to. Then they got pressure on with the blitz.

'And offensively, they got the big plays on our defense. They got three long touchdown passes - probably more than we had all last year. When that happens, (David) Carr threw the football well and they made some plays. We made some mistakes as far as some of the things we need to do defensively. We didn't play downhill and do some of the things I know we're capable of which are correctable. They made plays on offense and we didn't make plays on defense, and that's basically what happened in the game.

'We got to 31-24 and had an opportunity and didn't take advantage of it. There were a lot of things, you can go on and on. We had 19 penalties, and six of them were offsides on defense. There were five times on third down that we stopped them but had a penalty and kept their drives going. We had another penalty when they turned the ball over. You can't have those things and expect to win anyplace, or against anybody, and all those things happened to us on Sunday so the game ended up like it ended up. That's pretty much how it is in a nutshell. Is it correctable? Sure, they're correctable. We just have to make our mind up that we're going to correct them.'

(Did you see similarities between the energy and enthusiasm of Fresno State on Sunday and the way OSU played in 2000?) 'They ran to the football, their front seven played extremely well and they have some good players. That Alan Harper is probably as good as there is in the country at his position. But they ran and played with a lot of enthusiasm, and when you do that and you play defense like that - which is what we did last year and hopefully will start doing - you're going to stop people, and that's what happened. But their down four played extremely well. If they keep playing like that, they're going to win a whole bunch of games.'

(On the play of OSU's receivers) 'I thought our receiving corps was a bright spot, if there was a bright spot ... I have trouble at night thinking of bright spots. I thought Seth Trimmer played well and made some big plays for us, George Gillett, Shawn Kintner made a big play for us in the first half that sort of got us going on a streak route, James Newson played well and made a lot of big plays. So that was a real plus for us. I thought that was going to be a real question mark, one game doesn't make it, but I was happy with how they played.'

(Do you think OSU's confidence is shaken, and how do you deal with that?) 'Any time you lose, your confidence gets shaken, and we've been there before. That happened against Washington last year and we came back and played well. Our players know we didn't play like we're capable of playing, we know we can play better. So is your confidence shaken after one football game? No, I don't believe that. But we just have to come out and play better and play like we're capable of playing. I don't think our confidence is shaken, I think we'll come back and play better.'

(On Monday, you said you thought maybe OSU's defense had been thinking too much. What did you mean by that?) 'Instead of just reacting to things like we normally do - stunts and blitzes and so forth - we were thinking instead of just running them like they're second nature. We did that, we just didn't have a lot of energy out there for whatever reason. It's not anything like the team I saw in two-a-days and during the spring. Again, we've got to simplify things, maybe, defensively and make sure we know what we're doing every time the ball is snapped and then do it with a great deal of speed. That's what we're all about. We run just as fast now as we did two weeks ago, we've just got to put our players in position where they can do that.'

(Will cornerback Terrell Roberts make the trip to New Mexico State?) 'No. Terrell Roberts is out. He's going to have surgery on his hand today or tomorrow. He may be able to play against Montana State, but for sure he'll play against UCLA.'

(On the performance of OSU's secondary at Fresno State?) 'We played okay at times, poor at times. We didn't make the plays we needed to. It's a combination of things. We get beat deep a couple times, you've got to give credit to the quarterback and receiver, but also our technique wasn't quite like it was on a couple of fade routes, so we gave up the big play. But if you get pressure on them, it doesn't make any difference what you do, so it's a combination. Our secondary did not play like we're capable of playing.'

(What did you think of the hit on Terrell Roberts as he waited for a punt that resulted in the broken hand?) 'The rule is a bad rule, to start out. It's open season on punt returners. You tell me he didn't know he was in the zone when he hit him? No, he did, he knew it, he was trying to make a point, whatever the reason. Now all of a sudden you get a broken hand because of it. I think it's wrong, and I think what he did is wrong. But I also think because of the rule, it opens it up. They've talked about this rule and they haven't done anything about it, although they did give him a 15-yard penalty, which is what it should have been. But in games like that, there was no stop when he was coming off the football field, so you can take that however you want to take it.'

(The rule is that the coverage team has to allow a two-yard halo around the return man) 'It's a bad rule. I'm not sure how to change it, but it's a bad rule. It's a five-yard penalty, but it's a 15-yarder if it's like it was Sunday which was obviously done purposely. It depends on how you want to coach it - you can take your guy and say 'forget the halo, go ahead and make a point. Five-yard penalty, big deal.' It's open game on kick returners. It depends on how you coach.'

(Will you make any changes regarding the offensive line, or was Fresno State just that good?) 'We pass-protected seven guys a lot of the time. You can't keep any more in that that, a couple of times we protected eight. We'd have to play with 13 guys and put two more in the offensive front. It was part them and part we made some mistakes up front, as far as our turns and so forth. We've got to get better, we've got some good athletes but we've got some inexperience there. None of them have really played a lot other than (Chris) Gibson and (Vincent) Sandoval. Lee Davis is new, Tyler McClaughry hasn't played very much, Mike Kuykendall hasn't played - those guys will be better as time goes on.'

(Was Fresno State stopping OSU's running game the biggest surprise?) 'Yes. That was the biggest thing, we felt we could go in and run it, we've got to be able to run it, and they shut it down. They put a lot of guys up there and blitzed and did some different things that weren't surprises, but we didn't block them like we need to block them.'

(Any injuries besides Terrell Roberts?) 'No, that's the only one. We've got a lot of bumps and bruises. When it's physical like that and you're at the end of the physical part getting hit, you get those.'

(Watching New Mexico State's defense against Texas quarterback Chris Simms, see any similarities to Fresno State?) 'They play real well together as a defense. They've got a couple people - their nose tackle, Joe Olivo, is a great pass rusher and they've got a linebacker by the name of D'Wayne Taylor who is an outstanding player, and their secondary plays pretty well. But they do a lot of blitzing about like Fresno State where they don't man up, they give some zones up and if you don't find it, they'll hit you. They try to get seven-, eight-man pressure - seven-man, most of the time, six- or seven-man. They're a defense that's very physical, and I'm sure their plan ... if I'm playing us, I would probably spend a little time looking at the Fresno State film and seeing what worked and probably try to attack us somewhat the same way.'

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