Pac-10 Football Media Day Quotes

July 31, 2002

Arizona State Coach Dirk Koetter
'We play 13 games this season, adding the Black Coaches Association Classic August 24 in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's too great an opportunity to pass up from where our program is right now. We have an extremely young team, but to play in front of that crowd will be a great experience. It added spark to our spring drills and summer workout program Training for that game instead of something mundane definitely adds spice to life. ... We're starting between 16 and 18 underclassmen, and we have 36 players on our two-deep chart with at least two years of eligibility left. So we won't be a senior-dominated team. We're the only team in the league starting over with a new quarterback.'

California Coach Jeff Tedford
'Our one main objective through spring football was to create an attitude of confidence because of the lack of success last year. Coming from an 11-1 team to team that went 1-10 we can see that and it's very apparent. We've worked hard as a staff to create that environment of success and confidence. The players have done an exceptional job at buying in. The seniors are really taking ownership in the team and are very excited to get things turned around.'

Arizona Coach John Mackovic
'This is my second year in the Pac-10 and I can say without a doubt it's much easier to come in and know the lay of land and what's going on. Not only with my own team, but with the coaches and the style of play in the Pac-10. ... Our highest priority in training camp is to get our defense reestablished. Arizona football has been known for good defense and we did not play even close to that last year. That is the highest priority for my staff, without going away from what we believe - in being a good strong run defense first and foremost. We also have to continue to feed the fire of our offense. We averaged 449 yards through the first few games of the season last year. Had we been able to play that way the entire season, we would have seen a significant difference in our record, been in position to contend for a bowl game and in better position in the Pac-10.'

Oregon State Coach Dennis Erickson
'As I go into the season and look ahead, we have to play really well defensively early on. We haven't been a real good starting team early. We're a little young in experience offensively, but I really believe we do have some talent. ... The biggest question for anybody heading into the season is always the offensive line. Everyone loses at least two or three offensive linemen each year. We lost two starters at center and right tackle, and we have three starters back. The biggest thing with offensive linemen is how they play together as the season goes on. If they don't play well together, you will have problem. Hopefully this group can come together and do the right thing.'

UCLA Coach Bob Toledo
'We don't have as many seniors as we did a year ago, when we had 23, but we have 15 and those 15 are good football players. When you lose a lot of seniors, people think you won't be competitive. We've got great kids coming back and good chemistry. Six starters return on offense, led by right tackle Mike Saffer and Bryce Bohlander at left tackle. At tight end, Mike Seidman in my opinion may be one of best tight ends in the Pac-10 and on the West Coast. ... I've said I'm not going to name a starter (at QB) until the week before the first game. I think that will help (Cory Paus) stay focused on the task at hand. It will also help the newcomers compete and get ready, yet they know they have a chance. If something should happen to Cory, these guys will have some experience and will be ready to go.'

USC Coach Pete Carroll
'We're excited about the up side and the potential of having a good year. We feel as though we really have the chance to step up and make a statement this year. Coming off the end of a season where we made some progress, we know we can have a very productive season. ... Hopefully we're a much better football team. We weren't good enough early last year and we let our opponents get away from us. Fortunately we found our stride and our style we could play with. We have a much better feel for what we can do and how we can play. We're nowhere near the same team. The preparation for the bowl game was instrumental. Then to come back and have a strong spring workout was invaluable.'

Washington Coach Rick Neuheisel
'We have a lot of returners on offense. The question then becomes our defense. At the conclusion of last season we gave up a lot of points, way too many when matched up against the reputation and tradition of Washington defense. We have a lot of work to do in terms of recapturing the defensive reputation that's been synonymous with Washington football. We're anxious to do that and we think we can. We have healthy bodies back, after having 11 surgeries last year. We're excited about the upcoming year. Finishing 8-4 or 9-3 doesn't make a huge difference as you look back, but it has made a huge difference as far as our fervor entering the offseason.'

Stanford Coach Buddy Teevens
'The transition is difficult, considering Tyrone Willingham did such a great job. We're very excited about the enthusiasm level. Our offensive approach will be a little different and the defense will be similar in terms of variety. ... Historically Stanford has thrown the ball a lot and I'd like to have that ability again. Back with Coach Spurrier was a tremendous education, and prior to that at every stop I've thrown the ball a great deal. We'd like to be very multiple. Of course with our offensive line and running backs, we'll also have balance.'

Washington State Coach Mike Price
'You've finally got it right. It took 41 years to pick us the favorite. It's respect for the players and what we did last year, as well as Jason (Gesser) and what we have coming back. It also helps Washington State to have this type of exposure. ... But it's not how you start the season, it's how you finish the season. And with this season as long as it is, we have to make some adjustments. We start Labor Day weekend and end with UCLA on December 7. ... I'm excited about (Jason Gesser's) future. It's so fun to watch him; he's an exciting player.'

Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti
'The glow of last year is still there a bit, however we are ready to move on. Last year was a magical season with key performances by great players. The kids never gave up and found ways to win games in different manners. We know as a team you can't dwell on last year. We need build on last year. He was asked about it and I heard Gary Barnett say they're not going to defend anything this year - they're going to go out and grab another one. I agree with that mindset completely. ... The biggest question for us is who's going to be that No. 2 guy this year to keep Onterrio Smith fresh. ... So much is said about our offense, and we return a lot. But defense is the key to our success. Keeping people out of the endzone is what our people do best and we need to continue that approach.'

Terrell Suggs, JR, DE, Arizona State'I enjoyed watching Oregon (last season). They did a great job of representing the Pac-10. Sometimes we're looked down on in the Pac-10 because we don't have a Miami or a Florida State - until last year with the way Oregon finished. It's great to see the Pac-10 play well in a BCS game.'

Kyle Boller, SR, QB, California
'I weigh about 20 pounds more and I'm just as mobile as I was. I definitely didn't want to get slower. My goal was to play in college at 225 and it took me longer than I thought. The extra weight may help me take some extra hits, although I'm just as mobile as I was in the past.'

Jason Johnson, SR, QB, Arizona
'I don't think there's any substitute for experience, especially at this level with such high competition. The whole team has a year under its belt with Coach Mackovic, so this year we know what to expect and we have high expectations. We've also had a full summer to look back and study what went wrong last year and what to improve on.'

Dennis Weathersby, SR, CB, Oregon State
'After the (2001) Fiesta Bowl we had high hopes, but last season we didn't do too well. It affected us a little bit, but we hope this year we'll improve and be more consistent. Last year was tough. We were used to always being the underdog. This year we need to start early and dominate the game and not let up.'

Mike Saffer, SR, OT, UCLA
'As far as the bowl game last year goes, to finish at 6-4 and not go was kind of heartbreaking. But at the same time we needed to win another game and be invited. We need to put ourselves in the position this year to get an automatic bid. We don't need to pay to play in a bowl game. That's not the way we want to approach the season. We want to go to a bowl game based on our talent and playing the best we can play. Our goals right now are the task at hand - to go into camp and get ready to play Colorado State.'

Troy Polamalu, SR, S, USC
On why he did not turn pro after 2001: 'First, I really didn't think I was good enough. There were so many mistakes I made in college football last year that I could make at the next level. We haven't been very successful since I've been here and I'd like to go out and finish my career with a big bowl game win.'

Cody Pickett, JR, QB, Washington
'I'm still trying to get back to 100 percent, but the thing right now is confidence. My shoulder is as good as it's going to be. Most of it's in your head when you have an injury. So the main thing for me now is to get my confidence back, look at my reads better, just think better.'

Matt Leonard, SR, DT, Stanford
'It's kind of scary because we have new coaches and new players. You always like to know what everyone's doing. In the past I've known what the player behind me was doing and the player in front of me. We've developed a new defense, very much attacking, we'll get in there and get after people. We'll be a lot of fun to watch because we'll score a lot of points on offense and it will be great to get in there and see what we can do on defense.'

Jason Gesser, SR, QB, Washington State
'A lot of people have picked us to win the Pac-10, and I can tell you right now that's respected among you guys. The way things have gone in Washington State's past, we've experienced more than you can imagine. Going from the Rose Bowl to a 3-8 year and another 3-8 year, to losing three overtime games. Then last year being picked to finish ninth and finishing with a 10-2 record, and now being picked to win it - it's experience. You can't teach experience, you have to go out and get it. And if you put all that experience on the field at one time, it will be hard to stop us with what we can do.'

Keenan Howry, SR, WR, Oregon
'We have a lot of people that can make plays, we have a lot of people on offense that return, especially the offensive line. Any time you can sit back there and have lot time to throw the ball like Joey (Harrington) did last year will help out tremendously. We have a great running back with Onterrio (Smith) in the backfield. It just makes our jobs as receivers a lot easier, when you know he is getting about five or six yards per carry.'

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