Tyrone Willingham Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 26, 2001

Stanford, Calif. -

Head Coach Tyrone Willingham

On his impressions after the Arizona State game:
Well, I think that there were really a couple things that really jump out at you coming out of the ball game. One was the fact that we had no turnovers. Anytime you can go through a football game and do that, you give yourself a chance to win, a chance to be successful. Second, we had a stretch of about eight of 11 drives that we scored on, and I think that was an impressive feat. Those two things offensively jumped out at me. Defensively, the fact that we held them to 1 of 14 on third down conversions and we created three turnovers with two interceptions and a forced fumble. When you do those things, you give yourself a chance to be successful.

On the challenges USC will present:
Their defense has always been good. I don't think there is a year I can remember that it wasn't very good and especially with the play of their linebackers over the years, they've had some really talented linebackers. In the secondary, they've had first round draft choices over the years. When you look at this defense they have, this version of their defense, the thing that jumps right out at you is that they are all hitters and they all have great speed - they're very explosive. From the very first clip you watch, they do a great job in terms of team speed, getting around the football, and it seems like they're doing an even better job this year creating turnovers.

On USC's Pete Carroll as head coach and defensive coordinator:
I think Pete is very adept at doing [both roles]. He's probably done it to some degree in pro football. In our system, the way we function, I like to have the ability to step back a little bit and see the ball game and be able to make comments and suggestions as a separate entity from what is going on. In our system, that functions and works very well.

On Stanford's offensive depth and playmakers:
I think to date, we've been very fortunate. In our first game, Ryan Wells stepped up and made some plays and in the next ball game Luke Powell took the star or leading role in the game. So, I think we've been fortunate in our first two games, but I think when you looked at us at the start of the season, I think everyone had to have the same opinion. When you've gone one year with Troy Walters and the next with DeRonnie Pitts, and there didn't seem to be anyone who had done those things to that level, you have to wonder and question to some degree where you are in terms of playmakers. I have been very pleased with what we've been able to do so far.

On comparisons between this year's team and the 1999 Rose Bowl team:
I think when you get off to a good start, and obviously 2-0 is a better start than 0-2, then it is natural for people on the outside to draw those kind of comparisons. What we on the inside are focused on is understanding that what happened last week does not have anything to do with what will happen next week. So, SC doesn't care what we did last week, they're only interested in beating us when we get to the Coliseum. So, we've got to be prepared to confront that challenge. For our football team, we won't be making comparisons. We will be focused on taking it one step at a time, one play at a time, one game at a time. That sounds like coach speak I know, but that is the only way to go about it, and if you do it any other way, you're probably preparing yourself for failure.

On the adjustment from NFL to college football:
There is probably no adjustment. I think going the other way is more of an adjustment. I don't if there is a big adjustment other than that they are still young men and they're still learning and still growing with the process as opposed to being a little bit older and maybe more set in values and set in all the things involved in their lives.

On special practices designed for the USC game:
When you have a team that is more explosive, faster than probably 90% of the track teams in the country, how can you practice or prepare for that? They've got an awesome array of speed, and it's not just at the receiver positions or the running back positions, it is across the board. This is truly an explosive team and given the right opportunity, they showcase it.

On ways to negate USC's speed:
We have to do a great job of playing as a team and not let it come down to one individual having to make a play. If it comes down to that, in most cases, speed is going to win out. We've got to get two or three players around the ball, two or three players to make that tackle. We've got to play as a team, we've got to communicate well. We've really got to fly and hustle to the football. If we're able to play as a team, and in most cases if you can get three players to the ball or three players to that key individual, you've got a better chance than just a one-on-one.

On travel changes:
We're not sure right now. We're trying to get as much information as we can from our carrier, America West, they have done a great job to date. Also, what will impact us is the different regulations at each airport and this time especially because of LAX. We've got figure out what their regulations are and what is different for us. That just adds another dimension to a football game in terms of travel and how it affects your team and how smoothly things go.

On Arizona State's team speed compared to USC's:
I think what I said about Arizona State was that they were an explosive offensive team. I think that was the term that I used. Not only is USC explosive, they are just flat fast. I don't know that we'll face another team quite as fast as this. Everyone nowadays has good speed, but they seem to be exceptional in all areas. They've got big guys that are shot putters, and anyone who knows about shot putting knows you have to be explosive to work in that circle if you do it well. They are an explosive team and also an extremely fast team.

On USC's trouble in scoring points, despite Carson Palmer's skill as a quarterback:
That I don't know, and I hope we don't find the solution to that this weekend. There is no question that he is an outstanding quarterback. His game last week, a lot of quarterbacks never have a game like that in their careers. What is unfortunate is that they have had some turnovers, and usually when you have turnovers, it really dooms a football team. I think somebody has probably calculated that when you have a turnover against you that scores, you have about a 90% probability that you will lose that football game. That's a pretty high statistic, and I think they had one take for a touchdown against them in the Oregon ball game. When you're making turnovers, it is difficult to win a football game. You can be an outstanding quarterback or outstanding runner or outstanding team, but mistakes of that nature hurt you.

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