Erickson Meets The Press

Sept. 3, 2002

(On Temple) 'I've had the opportunity to see that program over many years when I was in the Big East at the University of Miami. (Head coach) Bobby Wallace has done a tremendous job - the improvement that program has made in the last five years since he's been there is unbelievable. Their athletes are way better, they do a great job of coaching, they've had great improvement every year. Last year they had great improvement. As you look at them, this year in their first game against Richmond they played really, really well. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of returners in a lot of different areas. They're going to be very competitive in that league, so we've got our hands full, there's no question about it. It's a long trip, a long ways to go. We've got great respect for them; we've got to get some things done. They do a lot of different things.

'They're in a no-huddle offense now, and they do that very, very well. They're in one-back quite a bit, very similar to what we do offensively. But the no-huddle quickens the pace of the play up, so we spent time this week defensively on that. When you talk about no-huddle, it's not like the two-minute offense where everything is real fast, but they just get to the line of scrimmage, call their play, their formation, go ahead and run it; we have got to be alert to do some of the things we want to do defensively as far as our defensive coaches making calls against what they do. We'll see it a lot more - a lot of people are doing it, it seems to be the trend in football now, that and the shotgun and four receivers and so forth. That's just how it is. You've got to deal with that and spend time doing it.

'Defensively, they've got some outstanding players. Dan Klecko - we all remember is father (former NFL star Joe Klecko), but he's one of the better players I've seen as a down lineman. Any time you're a unanimous All-Big East selection in the defensive front, you're talking about a lot of players at the University of Miami who I'm very familiar with. He didn't play last week because of an injury; he'll be ready to play, from what we understand, this week. He's the leader of that defense. They swarm around and play really, really hard. They play what they call a 4-2, which basically is two strong safeties and two linebackers as opposed to three linebackers and four secondary people. Basically, their front is very similar to a lot of things you see all the time. They do a good job of taking advantage of their personnel. They've got great speed; that's why they're playing those safeties. They run to the football and last week they pretty much dominated their game. I know they feel good about where they are. It's a big game for them and it's a big game for us.

(On Oregon State) 'Our concerns right now are us improving. Look at last week, and we played okay (against Eastern Kentucky). We've got a lot of things we need to work on. The competition gets tougher, and we've just got to improve ourselves. Offensively, there were some good things we did. I thought Derek (Anderson, quarterback) played well, our receivers made some plays, but you can't count on the big plays all the time. You've got to be consistent in the running game and being able to move the ball with consistency down the field, which we did. For some periods of time, we didn't. Defensively, we did what I expected in that we pretty much dominated the game. We gave up 10 points on offense, basically, with the fumble recovery (returned for a touchdown) and the turnover that gave them the field goal. But defensively we played well. Again, we gave up a nine-minute drive at the start of the second half; they didn't get any points out of it but hopefully we're better at converting third down on defense so we can get out of there and get back on offense.

'After one football game, we feel pretty good about where we are. Of course, it's just the start, but there are a lot of good football teams out there as you see from watching this week. Temple is in position where they're getting better and better all the time, so we'd better be ready to play.'

(Does OSU's defensive system - which doesn't substitute as freely as some systems - help against a no-huddle offense?) 'It does, because we don't play a lot of nickel (coverage). We feel our linebackers are capable of doing what they have to, so we don't have to do a lot of substitution when they bring people in. That helps you in the no-huddle a little bit. Again, they get on the line of scrimmage and they'll substitute; you can substitute with them, it's not like the two-minute drill. The biggest thing with us, you've got to be able to call what you want to call. If you know what the down-and-distance is defensively and you've got a game plan, you've got to be able to make that call on the field if you feel that's what you've got to do. You can't have your hands tied because of that.'

(On the progress of defensive end Bill Swancutt) 'He played quite a bit last year as a true freshman. With the experience he got last year, it makes him better. He's gotten a lot bigger; he's probably put on 15 or 20 pounds and he's much more physical. He's a very good athlete, which got him by last year, but now he's a lot more physical and understands what's going on. Right now, he's a much better football player than he was a year ago.'

(On gaining exposure on the East Coast by playing in Philadelphia, even though it's a short trip, time-wise) 'It's not all that short a time when you get on that airplane, believe me. I've had experience with that when I was with the Seahawks when we'd go back to play Philly or the Jets or something like that. It's interesting - a lot of our players have never been to the East Coast, like a lot of players from the East Coast haven't been to the West Coast, so it's a different experience for them. I think the exposure of playing back there won't hurt us at all; that's a real positive. To play a team from the Big East is a real positive for us, too. I know our players are excited to go back there. Is it a long ways? Yeah, it's about as long as you can be. But I probably made the longest move in the history of all of football from Miami to Seattle - you can't go much further, unless you go to Alaska.'

(Any phase of Oregon State's play against Eastern Kentucky particularly pleasing?) 'I thought we probably caught the football more consistently than we have in the past year. We had one drop at the beginning of the game which was huge, but I thought we caught the football extremely well, made plays out there that we didn't make all the time a year ago, which to me will make us a heck of a lot better offensive football team because you've got to make plays out there. That helps Derek get confidence and gets the whole offense jump-started.'

(On the progress of wide receiver Kenny Farley) 'A great friend of mine is a guy named Gene Murphy who coached a lot of different places and is down at Fullerton at a junior college. He called me and had a qualifier who wanted to come out after a year, which is Kenny Farley. He called me in the summertime, so we liked what we saw. He knows football players and said he could play, so we brought him in. It was a learning experience for him last year. Since he's been here, he's 225 pounds, he's increased his speed, he knows our offense now. He's a big receiver in the slot who can create some problems for you. He's worked really hard; he was here all summer and you can really see the improvement he's made physically and in understanding what's going on.'

(On the division of placekicking between Kirk Yliniemi and Ryan Cesca) 'All we did was kick extra points; we didn't get ourselves in position where we had to try a field goal. It's the same as it was - Kirk's going to be the kicker probably inside 40 yards, then Ryan would be outside right now and Ryan's kicking off because he's got the stronger leg. We'll see what happens. Hopefully we don't have to make any changes; we hope he's kicking the ball well. With Kirk, we're going on what happened in spring football and fall camp as far as his consistency is concerned.'

(Is Temple's place right now comparable to where OSU was a few years ago - an improving program hungry for a big win?) 'Temple is a very hungry football team. The Big East is basically, I guess, trying to get them out of Big East football and they're trying to prove they should be there, and that's dangerous. They have very, very good athletes and they can make some things happen, which they did last year. So yeah, they're hungry. And when you play on the road against a team that's hungry, that's always scary. We've got to be alert, be focused and just go play our football game.'

(On last week's games involving Pacific-10 teams) 'It was pretty interesting. I watched parts of most of them. The one last night (Southern California vs. Auburn), I had a chance to see a little of that off and on. I saw part of the first half and the end of it. USC has great athletes, we're not kidding anybody when we say that. You watch what they recruit every year, and they recruit players - they've got players. (Quarterback) Carson Palmer, to me, is the key to that. He showed it last night in the second half. They're healthier than they've been. The Washington game, that's a crime that it happened the way it did. Not just the 12 men, but there were some other things that happened before that that could have made a difference. But you look at them playing Michigan on the road, and that's some credibility right there. They're an awfully good football team. Oregon looked very, very good. There wasn't anybody that didn't in our league. You beat two Southeastern Conference teams and that's a good start for our league, and then beat some other people. It's like I said earlier, flip a coin - I have no idea. We'll find out.'

(What happened on the coin toss vs. Eastern Kentucky, when Oregon State won the toss and elected to kick off?) 'If that was the choice, I shouldn't be sitting here, to be honest with you. We just wanted our defense to get more snaps (laughter). What happened is, our choice - and it's the first time any of those four (captains) had been out there - what I told them is, if we win the toss, I want to defer and kick, which is bad wording. I should have said, just defer and they will choose. So when he answered and said 'Kick,' I guess, as opposed to saying I defer. It was a mistake, and it could have been a costly mistake. I've had that happen to me one other time in my career. Thank God, it didn't make a difference in the game. Live and learn, I guess. I've already talked to them about it - a lengthy discussion - so hopefully it doesn't happen again.'

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