Neuheisel Monday Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 5, 2001

General Remarks: 'We are excited about the position we find ourselves in, given this time in November. Our entire focus and concentration now has to be sent in the direction of Corvallis. We have got to play our best football this week. We are going to be playing an inspired football team, a very talented football team, that hasn't quite hit its stride. I guarantee they will this weekend. They will play with everything they've got. Coach Erickson mentioned that this is a game they pointed to even before the season started. It is going to be a very raucous environment and it is going to take the very best that we have. Hopefully we will prepare and improve with that in mind. I am anxious to get after the work that needs to get done in preparation for such a contest.'

On Jerramy Stevens: 'Jerramy has been released by the doctors, so he is set to practice with us and we will see what effectiveness he might have. He will practicing with us today.'

On rebuilding a winning tradition at Washington: 'The pieces that needed to be in place for those things to happen on a regular basis were here. I had been an opponent in this stadium on a number of occasions and always marveled at the passion that existed here. This is about a rekindling of the Husky spirit and has nothing to do with me. We have set our sights, and I mean everyone in Husky Stadium, on being in this environment and relishing in it. It doesn't come at no cost, it requires great determination and effort throughout the year so you can enjoy these times of the season, which are the best of times. Hopefully we will not fall prey to the temptation of beginning to think forward on what might be. We will keep our eyes on the target, and that will be Oregon State this weekend. We are going to play as good a team as there is in this conference because they are going to be amped and ready to play.'

On Beavers' strengths: 'We are focused on stopping the running game. They did what they wanted to against us a year ago, fortunately we were able to have a good game offensively. I don't think Cal or USC, their last two opponents, were able to move the ball with much efficiency, so their defense is playing very well. Add that all to a home stadium environment, which will be raucous, and it is going to be a very tough place to go into. I am not trying to pull a Lou Hultz and embellish, but those are the facts. Our guys have to understand that we are not there yet. We have a lot of work to do. Given how much you invest to play in a season of college football, to have these chances we have 12 days left in our conference schedule we ought to commit everything we have to making sure we play our best in those last 12 days.'

On team's improvements in practice prior to Stanford: 'I saw that our team was improving and our effort level was sustaining even though it was getting late in the season. When you see great attitude in your weight room, when you see great attitude in your training room, people trying to get healthy and keep their bodies in shape, those are signs that coaches can use to realize that the players are into it. The guys are enjoying it and want this badly. Now it's time to use those attitudes and focus them in the direction of us continuing to improve and play our best football. I have said to the guys, teams that play their best at the best times to play are the ones that come away with the best prizes. It is time to play our best and to do that we have to focus on the task at hand, which is to practice on that day or the play that has been called.'

On being in the driver's seat in the conference: 'The team du jour has not been able to hang on, so whether that has do with the team they played or whether they read their press clippings, I don't know. The facts of the matter are, we can't get caught up thinking we've accomplished anything yet. We have to sustain our determination and attitude so we can continue to improve everyday and hopefully play a good football game. I believe it is going take a great football game to be successful in Corvallis.'

On the Beavers' offensive struggles: 'Coach Erickson mentioned that there isn't as many big plays in their throwing game but they are getting productivity out of that. They certainly do have big-play potential. Dennis Erickson has been known as a offensive guru that has found ways to get the ball down the field with a lot of four verticals and a lot of people stretching the field. We fell victim to that last year with Chad Johnson and the 80-yard touchdown pass. They still have those plays and we have to make sure we cover them. We have to keep that intensity if at all possible.'

On UW's defensive line: 'Much like our offensive front we have been forced to go through some growing pains because we lost guys like Ryan Julian and Ossim Hatem to career-ending injuries. We had a youth movement in there, guys like Josh Miller, Tui Alailefaleula, Junior Coffin and Terry Johnson. They all have had to play roles in the front. Larry Tripplett and Marcus Roberson have tried be anchors in the defensive line, but they need help. Then you add Kai Ellis, who is really a first year player for us, who has been nicked. Zach Tuiasosopo, who had to fill in when Kai went down, has done a great job as a first-year player. Sam Blanche has been playing a significant amount of plays. There have been a lot of guys who have had to come through for us. We're not there but we certainly are trying to get better and we will hopefully benefit from all of the experience these kids are getting.'

On Pickett's play: 'He's improving but he's not there yet. Cody has the things that you don't coach. He has the toughness, both mental and physical, he has shown both of those this year. He also has the leadership skills that have been heightened through his ability to play through discomfort and the kids watching how he has responded to those challenges. Cody has made plays in crunch time, so he's proven that he is capable of that. He's managed our offense pretty well, even though he has room for improvement there. He'd be the first one to tell you that. You can't have a delay of game or force balls in at critical times. For the most part he has played pretty well. He's also shown that he's a really good athlete. He's been able to get himself out of trouble. When you lose a guy like Marques you're wondering if you're going to be able to get those plays again, the ones that aren't drawn on any blackboard. Cody has done a nice job making plays that aren't exactly as-drawn and that's an unbelievable factor in the outcome of games.'

On inside linebacker Ben Mahdavi: 'Ben Mahdavi has played terrifically for us. He is a guy who gives everything of himself. He does not squander one bit of his talent, he gets it all out. He plays with great passion and enthusiasm. He obviously wanted to be a Husky, forgoing a scholarship to Utah to come and walk on here. That is the heart and soul of Washington football and has been for years. A guy like Hugh Millen, who could have gone a lot of different places, wanted to be a Husky and found a way to impact the program in a huge way. That is part of what exists in this region of the country, this passion for this program. That is why I talk about it existing long before I came here.'

On last year's win over the Beavers: 'I knew it was a huge win. We were coming off a loss to Oregon, which had deflated our team somewhat given all of the aspirations of the season's outset. I knew Oregon State was a darn good team, they just came off a thorough whipping of USC at their home. I knew it was going to be a great game. I remember walking to the parking lot after the game, elated that we had found a way to win, and a fan walked up to me and said, 'at least you won.' I responded with, 'you don't know how good that team was that we just played.' I think after January, first everybody was pretty convinced about how good a team Oregon State really was. It was a great win and it was a hard-fought win. Both teams played really well and it came down to a last-second field goal that fell on our side of the crossbar. I wouldn't be shocked if we had another game just like it. It is going to be war.'

On Tripplett's big third-down play vs. Oregon State last season: 'That play was huge because if they got that first down, then they were throwing into the endzone, with a chance to win the game and not just tie it and send it into overtime. It kept the clock going. Had they gotten the yard on the play, the clock would have stopped while they moved the chains, which gives them the time to organize themselves. That's probably what they were counting on. In not making it, the clock continues to go and they end up using third down to spike the ball to get the clock stopped, which resulted in the field-goal attempt. It was a huge play in the game, much like the play Larry made against Cal this year on a third down and one in a similar circumstance. Larry is showing up at big times and we're going to need him in a big way this week. Just as all of our seniors need to push the gas pedal a little bit, more as they go down the stretch run of their careers.'

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