Erickson Meets The Press
Aug. 27, 2002
(On Eastern Kentucky) 'I'm very familiar with Roy Kidd, the head football coach there - he's one of the all-time great coaches ever in college football. He has about 300 wins or close to it. I had the opportunity to compete against Roy when I was at the University of Idaho; we went down to Eastern Kentucky and played them in the playoffs in 1982 when my hair was dark. We got beat in the playoffs 38-30 by them, and they went on, I believe, to win the national championship that year.
'I'm very aware of their program and of him as a football coach; as I said, one of the greats ever to coach the game. He's been at Eastern Kentucky for 39 years, which is somewhat unheard of, and has done an unbelievable job. Year-in and year-out, they compete for the national championship in I-AA.
'We have our hands full. They're going to come down prepared, they're very well coached. We're going to have to play well. Our record against I-AA early has not been real good, so we're going to have to come out and play the way we're capable of.
'When you look at Eastern Kentucky, they have their starting quarterback coming back in Travis Turner; C.J. Hudson as a freshman last year gained about 1,300 yards and is a heck of a running back. They've got a couple of offensive linemen; their leading receiver is coming back in Allen Evans. They're a football team that has some experience back on offense.
'They've lost some defensive players, but their two best defensive linemen - (tackle) Marcus Adams and (end) Nick Hill - are back, and (cornerback) Sunsett Graham in the secondary, so they've got some good players.
'Year-in and year-out, they've built a program where they just keep bringing them in and keep reloading, and we're going to have our hands full. When you look at them offensively, Roy has pretty much been the same, they're going to run the option and run the football at you. That's what their MO is, and they do a darn good job of it. Defensively, they'll switch up and play four down, then play a three-man front some depending on what the down and distance is. But I know they're looking to have a great season, and it's going to be a good opponent for us and hopefully for them. We're really looking forward to the game.'
(On Oregon State) 'It's the start of the season, and where we're at, we'll find out a heck of a lot more by the time we get done with the game on Thursday. To me, that's what it's all about.
'You look at us offensively, and we've got some inexperience at quarterback. Derek (Anderson) played some last year, and the only way Derek is going to get better is by playing, and playing in games. He's done some great things here in spring football and during fall camp; I really believe he has the chance to be an outstanding player. Again, it's a learning curve for him and he'll get better and better as the year goes on. (Tailbacks) Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall are gone; Steven Jackson, we saw him play last year, and Dwight Wright will carry that load. I feel very good. We've got all our tight ends back and pretty much all of our receivers coming back, so it's a group that's experienced. In the offensive front, we've got three starters back and a couple that have played, so we feel very good about that.
'Probably our strength going into the game, and where we probably know a little more about where we're at, is on defense where we have a lot of our starters back. Pretty much our whole secondary except (safety) Jake Cookus is back; Lawrence Turner will take his place, a junior college transfer out of San Francisco City. We've got (cornerbacks) Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts and (safety) Mitch Meeuwsen as starters, so we feel very good about where we're at there. In the linebacker corps, we lost James Allen and Erik Tuma has taken his place; of course, Richard Seigler and Nick Barnett are returning and we feel very good about that. We've got some good depth there. In the defensive front, we lost (end) Kyle Rosselle, but we pretty much have everybody else back starting with our tackles in Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards, and Noah Happe at defensive end. (End) Bill Swancutt played a lot last year and is the starter at the other end. We've got an experienced defense coming back, and we're excited about that. Again, we'll just see how we play Thursday night.
'The kicking game - I haven't made a decision on who our kicker is going to be. It's either Kirk Yliniemi or Ryan Cesca, they're still competing and they'll compete today and we'll find out. I probably won't announce that until you see who kicks. That's just how it's going to be. The punter is going to be Carl Tobey, who had a good year for us last year and has gotten better and better, and we're excited about him. Terrell Roberts will return punts, along with Aric Williams; and our kick returners will be Rodney Landingham, Terrell Roberts and Aric Williams.
'Again, it's like every year, it's an exciting time for everybody involved - players, coaches, alumni, everybody. College football is starting. It's the start of the season, and we'll know more after this game where we're at; we'll know more after the next game and the next game. I really believe we have the chance to have a decent football team; we just have to see how we improve as the year goes on.'
(Which wide receivers have stepped up to play alongside James Newson?) 'Right now, James Newson is starting at flanker. Ken Farley will be at our slot, at H, he's had a great spring and emerged as an outstanding receiver for us. At split end, Shawn Kintner will start but he's being pushed by Jason Boyd, who had a great fall camp for us. He's been hurt a little bit with a pulled muscle but he's healthy now; I'm excited to watch him in action because he brings something to the table for us as far as the big play is concerned. Cole Clasen is injured, he has a chance to play some, he's about 80 percent and we'll probably hold him out of this game and he'll be ready to play against Temple. Deondre Alexander is a junior college transfer who I'm real excited about; he's improved and shown a lot of things for us as camp has gone on and he'll end up backing up Farley in the slot. That's where we are at wide receiver. Right now, I feel real good about that. Seth Trimmer will probably back up Newson, and he has a lot of experience. We're so far ahead of where we were a year ago at that position.'
(Can you grade fall camp compared to others you've had?) 'It was a good camp. Again, I don't know that you can compare the results of camp until you play a game. I do know this - there's a big purpose in mind, the intensity level of what we want to accomplish, our players are set on what they want to get done. I thought the intensity level was probably better than what it was a year ago at this time, about the same as it was two years ago. But I can't grade it; I think you'll probably grade it Thursday when you see where we're at. But I'm excited about this time. I like this team chemistry, they're really focused about what they need to get done again. None of us were very happy with what happened last year, so that's been a huge motivation for us.'
(Is there less pressure on Oregon State than there was a year ago?) 'There's a lot of pressure because of the expectations, but I believe there's pressure every year. I've been in this business a long time, and if you don't feel pressure, then you probably shouldn't be involved. There is pressure, to win or to lose. You put it more on yourself than anything else. Obviously, the hype that we had last year probably put some pressure on us that we hadn't seen here before, so yeah, I'd say there's less pressure this year, without a question.'
(Will it be easier to focus Oregon State's attention on Eastern Kentucky because of OSU's struggles against some Division I-AA schools the past few years?) 'I would hope so. I believe this is a little different year for us, as far as that goes. I believe we have a point to prove, and we've got to take it one game at a time to get back where we were. We're not there; we're not in the top 35 or 40 in the country, and we probably deserve that. We've got to taken it game by game, and we talk about that all the time - to play hard and to get better and better and to try to get ourselves to where we were. To answer the question, you're probably right; what's happened in the past will probably help going into Thursday's game.'
(Going from fall camp into the season, what do you look for from your team in the first game?) 'How are we fundamentally? How are we in the base things we do offensively and defensively? Where are we, technique-wise? Where are we, execution-wise? Those are things we've got to find out, because practice is obviously different from games. You go into a first game, and you're going to make mistakes; there's no question about that. Hopefully, you can correct them during the game and not make the same ones. But I really believe in the first game, you find out more after the game than you do during the game. Hopefully, we don't have a lot of penalties. Hopefully, we don't do dumb things. We will make some mistakes, but you go in with the idea you're not going to make a lot of them. When you make them, hopefully you correct them.'
(On the depth of Oregon State's defensive line with the injuries to end Dan Rothwell and tackle Henry Anderson) 'When you lose a guy like Danny Rothwell, it hurts you depth-wise, there's no question about it. Those things happen. They're going to happen, as the year goes along, to everybody in college football. Henry Anderson was coming along really well at defensive tackle; he was probably our fourth or fifth defensive tackle. Rothwell, right now, is the biggest loss because he was probably a starter or competing for a starting position. But we have depth. Bill Swancutt started off and on last year and he was competing against Dan for that job. Jayson Jean-Baptiste had a very good spring and was competing against Noah Happe, so we have three we feel really good about. Jeremy Weldon, who is a freshman redshirt, is playing very well for us right there. At defensive tackle, James Lee was our No. 1 backup last year and he's back. Derek Hall is playing very well for us. Alvin Steen we moved from end to tackle, and he can play both positions so we've got some depth there. I just feel bad for those two - they worked so hard during the summer. Danny was here and did so many things, and he was our backup (long) snapper; that will probably hurt us a little bit, too, because we've got to get a backup snapper. But I just feel sorry for those players - and all players in college football that work so darn hard to get themselves ready to play and then get injured during two-a-days, which happens all the time, to where during the season they don't have an opportunity to play.'
(Is Oregon State's offensive line further along than it was at this point last season?) 'We're maybe the same that we were, because we have some inexperienced people. We have Mike Kuykendall and Kanaan Sanchez, who both started last year at guard; Lee Davis started at left tackle and Matt Brock played a lot at center ... as far as experience, we're probably about the same as we were a year ago. I just feel good about where we are. We're a little more athletic than we've been, which creates some more things we can do. I thought they've come together very well in camp. There's been some competition, we've got some depth there. David Lose, Lee (Davis) and Brian Kilkenny at tackle, so we've got some depth that we haven't had. That's probably where we're ahead as far as our offensive front is concerned. But they've got to get better and better as the year goes on.'
(On the competition at tight end and how players have responded) 'Tim Euhus is our No. 1 tight end. He's come off that knee surgery and had a tremendous fall. Overall, he can do it all - he can run, he can block, he can catch, he's very competitive. But we've got some depth. We've got Jermaine Jackson, who played last year; Tyler Ross, who played last year - they played well for us and they've gotten better and better. Dan Haines, who is a redshirt freshman, has got great speed and really adds some things as far as a receiver is concerned. Pat Loney can add some things as a blocker. We've got five of them that we can use in different situations. Probably our strength there is as good as we've had since I've been here.'
(How has Eastern Kentucky coach Roy Kidd's system changed since you faced him with Idaho in 1982?) 'I really haven't looked at the 1982 film (laughter). That's a long time ago, and I really haven't gone back to it. But Roy is a guy who changes with the times and does some things different than he did 20 years ago, because football has changed. That's just how it is, and that's why he's a great football coach. One thing about it, they like to run the football, offensively, and they're going to do that regardless of what formation it's out of. The thing they do is, they do what they believe and they do it very well and they're very well-coached. That's one thing that will never change about their football teams.'
(Coach Kidd talked about an interception in that 1982 game that you claim wasn't, and he also said that later the player admitted it wasn't. Do you remember that play?) 'Oh, do I remember that play. Yeah - it was a tight game, it was a heck of a football game. We were driving down to tie it up or even go ahead, I can't recall. It was at the end of the game. Kenny Hobart was our quarterback and he threw it and the guy trapped it, and they gave the interception to them. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but it's something you can complain about after the game. It was a heck of a football game. It was my first year as a head coach, and it was an interesting experience to go play down there and face a team like that. Yeah, I remember that - you always remember those.'
(How is Oregon State's energy level after fall camp compared to last season?) 'Comparing things to last year - it's just hard for me to do that. Our attitude is there. I really believe that physically, we're fresh and ready to go but I thought that last year. We weren't in full pads as much this camp as we were the two previous camps; we were in shorts and shoulder pads in the afternoon a lot of the time. We never really practiced two times in a row in full pads, which we had done before. I think there's a little less wear and tear in training camp than maybe there was before. We ran around pretty good in practice yesterday, so hopefully we're in good shape and we've got fresh legs and come out and play well.'
(Are you surprised that Roy Kidd hasn't moved up from Division I-AA at some point?) 'I know that Roy has had a number of opportunities to move to probably wherever he wanted to move. I've got tremendous admiration for what he's done. Yet, as I've been in this thing as many years as I have now, I can see why he would stay. Probably he's smarter than the rest of us. He's the only guy in the world I know who's still coaching who has a stadium named after him and he still plays in it. Usually, you have to not be around for that to happen, so I think that's a pretty good deal that he gets to play in his own stadium. I think Coach (Jim) Sweeney did that at Fresno State. But for I-AA, I've got great admiration for all of them. You get 65 scholarships, which is very difficult; we complain about 85 and they have 65. Financially, they don't have the budget in a lot of areas that we have. But you know what? It's a fun level to coach at. Players are players, kids are kids, they enjoy it. Obviously, he's enjoyed it to do it 39 years at the same place, so you've got to admire what they've done.'