Simonton Meets The Press
Oct. 2, 2001
(Can you talk about the mood of OSU's team right now?) 'No, I can't - I can maybe tell you tomorrow after we get some practicing done today (OSU does not practice on Mondays). As of right now, I can't.'
(Do you see in Washington State this year some similarities to Oregon State last year? Not much expected of them and starting quickly?) 'Yeah - they're playing with our offense. They've always had a great defense, they've always played us hard. They've had some injuries the last couple seasons so some guys have been missing. Some of those guys are back like (free safety Lamont) Thompson, so they're a strong team. Changing offenses has been working for them, so - yeah.'
(Has OSU's confidence been shaken?) 'We can't be shaken. This week is just as big as every other week, we've got to come out and get a win against somebody.'
(A couple of weeks ago, you said 'talking wouldn't get it done.' Does that remain true, or has there been a need for senior leaders to say some things?) 'Things definitely need to be said, and we still need more senior leadership on this squad. But right now, talking is just that. We need to realize - everybody needs to realize - you learn more from becoming a champion than being a champion. We're back in the position that we need to learn how to become a champion, we need to go through those growing pains. Talking is one thing, be we really need to go out and so something.'
(Do you feel you're running as well as you did a year ago, or as well as you did earlier in your career?) 'I don't know - it's hard to say. I haven't really had a chance to sit down and gauge myself. There are some things - I don't start sharp enough some games, last week, I started off with good intensity ... it's just really hard to get a feel right now. We're just not having the success we need to have running the ball. We're getting behind in games. It's hard for me to sit down and assess myself, so I'm just looking at a lot of little things I could do to help lead us to get better. If it means blocking, whatever - it's hard to gauge it right now. Everybody's looking at themselves and saying, 'Am I where I need to be?''
(As a senior, what are you telling your teammates?) 'Smile. Quit listening to y'all. Play ball - that's what we came here for. When I got here, it was a situation where nobody paid attention. The Cinderella story is over, it's time to just get back to playing ball. Enjoy it. Do it for one another, smile. That's all I can tell you. You're here to have fun, you're not here to feel somebody else's expectations and to provide a story for somebody to write about, you're here to play ball, so play.'
(Has the play of the offensive line been a problem?) 'No unit on the offense has played a solid, full game yet. That's the running backs, the wideouts - as a core group, we've all had weak points. I don't do well, Pat comes in and doesn't do well, J. Smith missed some reads ... for us to sit here and kick the offensive line in the mouth would make us cowards. We've all had points where we just haven't been sharp enough, where we haven't stood up to what we've been asked. I'm not going to sit here and kick the line, we've just got to sort of kick each other. That's the nature of the game - if you've got 10 people doing their job and one man takes a play off, it's not going to click. The line has its responsibility to perform, but there's been times they've performed and we haven't been on the same page, and it hasn't clicked.'
(Is there an increased sense of urgency this week?) 'No. You can't keep mounting on pressure when you're not standing up to the pressure that's already facing you. If we haven't found our niche, if we haven't learned how to come together with the degree of pressure we've been holding, to keep looking at each other and getting tense ... all I can do is tell dudes, 'Have fun.' The pressure is off now. We don't have to worry about national championships, forget it. Let's go out and do what we came here to do, which is have fun and play ball. The pressure is off, we can let go of the girdle a little bit, let the stomach hang out and enjoy life. I'm just trying to tell them 'Enjoy it', let these freshmen know that you came here because you saw something, and what you saw can be reached again but you're going to have to go through some growing pains. You're going to have to stand up and say 'I will. What did I learn from last week? Where did I go wrong? What can I do to build it back right?''