Coach Rick Neuheisel's Press Conference Quotes
Oct. 7, 2002
General Comments: 'After evaluating the game tapes from Saturday's game against Cal, certainly there is a lot of credit to be given to them. I think they played really well. Kyle Boller was outstanding and I think their secondary played very well and aggressively and certainly disrupted our throwing game to where we weren't as consistent as we had been. Unfortunately with their ability to hit us with a couple big plays, a trick play with a flea-flicker and due to some inopportune turnovers that gave them a short field and resulted in 14 points, we were unable to stay with a balanced offense and we got a little one-dimensional. That allowed them to tee off in a pass-rush mode and made the game not what we would like to have as a Washington game. It's disappointing for our fans to lose such a long streak and it is disappointing for all of us here to see such a long streak go by the wayside. But that is what eventually happens to streaks and now you get to start a new one.
'We're eager to atone for last week's loss and see if we can't get back up and really improve this week and put our best foot forward in an effort against another quality Pac-10 opponent in Arizona. I've known Coach Mackovic over the last several years both in the Big 12 and now the Pac-10 and I have a great deal of respect for him and the way he prepares his football team. So I know we are going to get another unbelievable effort out of the team that we play and I hope we can end this five-game home stand on a positive note and get a big win. As Coach Mackovic alluded to, this is going to be a dog-eat-dog conference and the race is long from over. But I don't want to worry about the race. I just want to worry about the next game. If we can find a way to get a victory, we'll be right back in the thick of things and I am looking forward to that opportunity.'
On what concerns him the most about playing Arizona: 'I think their quarterback is very, very good. I think he understands what Coach Mackovic is trying to get done. I think he understands how to take care of the ball and not go backwards. I heard Coach Mackovic talk about the running game. We've got to make sure we can control that running game so they don't get to the point where they can have their cake and eat it too. Bobby Wade is maybe the best receiver in the conference. He's had an unbelievable year. I recruited him and I'm sorry I lost him because he is an excellent, excellent football player that is doing everything for them. So we've got our hands full there, especially after giving up so many big plays against California. We've got to find a way to contain Bobby Wade and that is not an easy task. On defense, they bring a different style of defense. Coach MacDuff was there in the glory days of Arizona defense and he's got great plans. We got off to a fast start last year with 21 first-quarter points, but then we could hardly get a first down. We've got our hands full with finding ways to move the ball efficiently both in the air and on the ground. We are still trying to find ourselves as balanced offense. This is a tough task to do so against a defense that is built to stop that running game.'
On the progression of Cody Pickett as one of the top passers in the Pac-10 and the country: 'I know we are all looking at the numbers and they're outstanding. We are excited for Cody. Cody is a big-time player and we are excited that he plays for us. But we've got to get some help. We can't just leave him back there and have him throw 59 times in a ball game under the duress that we were under and expect him to not only last, but to flourish. That doesn't make sense. We've got to have some other things that are going along with it and part of that is making sure you're not turning the ball over and getting the score out of hand. We've got to do a nice job of getting back to the basics in our throwing game and adding to it some balance with the running game. If we can do that, I think Cody will be outstanding.'
On Reggie Williams' performance to this point in the season: 'I would say that if you look at the numbers, you would say he is having a great year. I still don't think he has reached the level of consistency that he is capable of. I am anxious to see that develop as we go further into the season. He was hampered earlier in the season with some nagging foot issues and he missed much of the Idaho game with a hurt leg which he was able to respond from pretty quickly and get back for the California game. But he can play better than he is playing right now and we need him to. He's obviously gained a lot of respect around the league because people are designing coverages around him. He was harassed by the California coverage. At times, it resembled a mugging.'
On the defense and their progress over the year: 'We're doing some better things up front. Our rush defense has improved. But we still can get much better. The place where we can make some bigger strides is to make some plays in the back end. We're there often times just to make the tackle and we need to knock some more balls down as is happening to us. In watching the film from last week, I almost feel that we are playing too clean. We're adhering to the rules almost too much. I know the rules are always difficult to keep track of and see everything. My hope is is that we can be a little more aggressive in our back end so we can help our front get ourselves up the field a little bit more.'
On maintaining the Huskies' status while playing in one of the toughest leagues in the nation: 'I guess if it were easy everyone would be doing it. What you have to do is you have to teach your people in your program that here is what the expectation level is and there is only one way to maintain that expectation level. And that is to work your tail off. You don't get to rest, you don't get to relax and there are no games in our schedule -- especially Pac-10 play -- that allow that. You have to play your best every week otherwise you are subject to getting beat, especially if that team plays really, really well. Which was the case against California. We had a long streak and it is by the wayside now just because we were outplayed. We've got to practice better so we play better. I should also say when I say outplayed, also outcoached. I don't mean to point the finger at just the players. It's all of us.'
On referees' calls in the Cal game: 'I think we going to see a lot of that. Especially if they let them get away with it. There were a number of calls in the game that we refused because we still caught the pass. Unless they are going to call it sufficiently, people are going to keep doing it. Obviously, we can't throw that many times and put that much pressure on the quarterback It's not who we are and it's not who we want to be.'
On what is missing from the running game: 'Going into the California game, Rich Alexis was third in the conference in rushing. Unfortunately he was hurt. I was convinced that he would be ready by game time and he just wasn't. I made the mistake of putting him in without having much practice time and it resulted in a very unfortunate turnover. I take responsibility. Braxton is a quality player, but he is coming off a long injury. Thinking back I probably should have put in Chris Singleton. But with Chris Singleton and Kenny James, two of our young players at that position, you risk a little bit in the pass blocking mode because then you don't have as much experience there. The plan had called for us to try and take advantage of some single coverage outside because of the way they play. Early we were taking advantage of it, but then we got some holding calls which were uncharacteristic for us. We had gone through the season almost unscathed and then we got four called on us in this ballgame. They took us out of some red zone situations which were very costly. We had a touchdown called back in the first half because two guys on the right side of our offense hadn't gotten set. We were just a little sloppy. I don't know why. I do know the discipline of our offensive unit fell apart a little bit and we've got to get it back as soon as possible.
'If we make the plays we're capable and do what we are supposed to do, if the score stays closer at hand, then the running game could have been very much in line with what we wanted from our running game. If you look at the first half statistics, Joe Igber had 15 carries for 43 yards and Braxton Clemen had 7 carries for 25 yards. We didn't run it as much, but we were in a plan of that we were going to throw. We were 19 of 28 throwing the ball. Unfortunately we had a fumble inside the 10-yard line which resulted in a touchdown for Cal. We we're on all cylinders. The disappointing part of the game for me was in the third quarter was when we went out and just couldn't make a first down. We couldn't find our rythym. After we went three and out, Cal went right down the field and scored. So both sides of the ball on the third quarter let down. Then the defense gave us a spark and got us a big safety. E.T. [Charles Frederick] got the ball and got us over the 50-yard line and the first play we got Paul Arnold going up the streak and we give up a sack. It was just a poor day of execution. It's nothing that we can't fix. We just have to go about fixing it and get some urgency to fix things. I take responsibility for this too. I think there needs to be more urgency in practice. I think we go through the motions and we digest the game plans and we get ready. I don't know if it has to do with five straight home games. There is a monotony that going on right now. We've got to jumpstart that and get some urgency into our practice plan and execute better on Saturday.'
On the monotony of practice: 'You get into routines. All practice plans you go on times and you are going to focus on different parts of your game. Usually you start with individual position drills and then you go into team work, preparing for your next opponent, the looks you are preparing to see and then practicing against them. We've got to get some urgency so that we come out of the week feeling like we've improved. If there is one thing I'm pinning on me is that I have not seen us improve. We did a lot of good things throughout the first five weeks of the season. We're this close to being 5-0. But the facts are we are 3-2, so something's got to be tweaked. I've been in this situation before where I've come off a disappointing loss. This is coaching. This is what should excite you. I tell the coaches that if we were fired today, they would have new coaches in here so excited about being here. Let's get excited about fixing what is broken and getting a great game together and assuming we get a win here this Saturday, in getting that win, we'll be right back in the hunt of things. We're five days away from fighting for our lives and six days away from hopefully feeling good about ourselves.'
On injuries: 'Roc Alexander has got a dinged shoulder but I think he will be fine. Rich Alexis has got an ankle sprain that hopefully will be a week better. I know that I am not playing a guy that doesn't practice.'
On evaluating officials with the Pac-10 office: 'There is a form on which we are allowed to evaluate the officiating and we are allowed to send in our evaluations and then we get a response back from the league office. The officiating didn't lose that game for us. We've got to play better. Ultimately with the talent of margin so close, it's about who makes plays. Cal made plays. Given the same opportunity we didn't. And when we did, we were careless and we squandered them. We were down on the five yard line with six minutes left and we get a personal foul and then we get a holding call. We eventually end up scoring, but it cost us three minutes. If you have those three minutes back, now maybe you don't have to onside kick and the field position changes and you're back into the ball game. We fell a little bit apart and we've got to nip it in the bud before we play again.'
On getting more variety in the offensive formations: 'I think we can do little bit more of that. There is a tendency in life and it's not just football, that when you are doing something well you don't necessarily go to far away from it. We are throwing the ball very well. But 59 times is not something we are going to put up with. It's going to result in too much pressure on the quarterback and that is results in a level of sloppiness that we don't want associated with our program.'
On soul-searching after the loss: 'Yeah, I've done some inspection. There is always a tendency when you are in a crisis mode. At a place like the University of Washington, losing even if it's just one time and now two times, it's crisis. There is a tendency when you get to that when you are over-react. There is also a tendency to under-react. So finding a balance in that is the secret. You just have to keep trying things and thinking about them until you have something that makes sense to me personally. Then you go about selling it to everybody and why it is the right way to go. I know in my heart that we've got good guys, that we've got great coaches. We've got everything we need to be successful here. We just need a plan as to how we are going to do. We just have to implement the plan.'