Quotes From Football Coach Dirk Koetter's Monday Press Conference

Oct. 7, 2002

Opening Statement:

'Our defensive scout team player of the week was freshman defensive tackle Ali Likio. Our special teams scout player of the week was Josh Brayer who was a walk-on defensive end. Terry Richardson was our offensive scout team player of the week.

'R.J. Oliver was our player of the game for special teams and for defense. Skyler Fulton was our offensive player of the game. Fulton, by far, had the best game of his career. Fulton has been practicing real well and it paid off for him on Saturday. He made some nice plays, not only on balls he caught but he made some nice blocks as well. Our captains for the Oregon State game will be Jason Shivers, Mike Karney, and R.J. Oliver.

'We're very, very disappointed in this loss (to North Carolina). I think the players bounce back much quicker than the coaches do. I think the players are ready to go today, they are very resilient. As disappointing as it is, we have to acknowledge that we had some excellent individual play on Saturday and we're happy with our overall effort against North Carolina. Our attitude was good and we would never say die. I felt that we were going to come back, even on that last drive. Unfortunately we got beat because of three main things.

'One, we were 19-21 in the red zone going into the game, but we were only 5-10 in the red zone against North Carolina. Even after going 5-10 in the red zone last week we're still fourth in the conference in red zone scoring. Our red zone scoring was the difference between the North Carolina game and the Stanford game. In the Stanford game we scored every time we got down there. Against North Carolina we missed out on potentially 35 points.

'Two, we can't miss four field goals, three of which were chip shots. I've never seen Mike Barth have a day like that. I've never even seen Barth miss two field goals in a row in practice.

'Three, our defense played okay for the most part and played well at times, but we gave up two touchdowns in the last seven minutes. In both of those drives in the last seven minutes we had the quarterback sacked and let him get away. We just have to finish better than that. All we can do at this point is learn our lessons and move on. I told the team yesterday that it is very realistic to think that every game from here on out could be just like the North Carolina game. We had numerous lead changes and wild momentum swings. Every team we play from here on out has similar talent and there isn't one team that's a whole lot better than anybody else. An example is Cal losing at home to Air Force and then going to Husky Stadium to beat Washington, which is not an easy thing to do, and Cal was picked to finish last in the conference. The league is wide open. We, like everybody else, are a little beat up right now but we have to learn our lessons and move on.

'Oregon State was flying high but they lost the last two weeks to UCLA and USC. Oregon State has some of the best individual players [in the Pac-10]. Eric Manning is the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10. They're two linebackers, Nick Barnett and Richard Seigler, are outstanding players. Dennis Weathersby is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Steven Jackson is one of the best running backs in the league. Oregon State is very talented. They are in the same boat as we are and they'll come out clawing for everything they can get on Saturday night and we expect to have a great game.'

Did you notice anything mechanically in Barth's kicks that caused him to miss during Saturday's game?

'Coach Osborne, our special teams coach, studies that sort of thing. I really don't know anything about kicking mechanics. Our coaches will study all that stuff, just like any position, like the offensive line, and break down that film. I can tell you that Andrew Walter threw some unorthodox passes as well, but bottom line is that they are either complete or they are not. I think that being a kicker is a lot like a golf swing, some days you just lose it and Mike lost it.

'On the third one right before the half, you can really see that Mike tried to punch it. He did not extend his leg at all and it was a lot lower kick. It had a lot of power on it but Mike just lost his confidence. Mike, the long snapper, and the holder came out early during halftime and took some kicks and Mike said he felt good about the second half. I've seen Mike now for two years and there was no doubt in my mind he was going to make the next one. That is why at the end, the second to last drive, when it was third and ten and we were down, we were trying to go down and score a touchdown to win the game. We threw a pass that was incomplete on third and ten and it brought up a 50-yard field goal attempt. Mike makes those in his sleep. There was no hesitation on my part because I thought we had a better chance of making a 50-yard field goal than we did of making a fourth and ten.'

How does Oregon State's offense this year look different from last year?

'I don't think they've changed their style at all. I've known Coach Erickson since I was a player at Idaho State and he was a head coach at Idaho. He has run the same offense. He is the pioneer of spread offense, which a lot of teams now have put into the shotgun and run it every down. Coach Erickson is one of the guys that has stayed with his offense through University of Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami, the NFL, and now Oregon State. A lot of people change as they go along and he has not. He has stayed with the same basic plays that they ran in 1976, he still runs them today although they have dressed some of them up.

'I think that at the end of last year, Steven Jackson was better than [Ken] Simonton. When we were watching the tape from last year, we were more nervous about Jackson and I know a lot of other coaches in the Pac-10 felt the same way.

'I don't think that their style has changed. I think that they are exactly the same. As Coach Erickson mentioned, they've been inconsistent the last couple weeks, but I think that is due to having to completely juggle their offensive line and losing two starters.'

How important is setting the tone in this game for the rest of conference play?

'It's very important to us. It is important because it's our game this week. We are still one of four teams undefeated in the Pac-10, so we're not going to concede anything to anybody. Even though I'm still down now, Monday at 12 o'clock, come Tuesday at four, when we practice, I'm going to be telling our team that we are going to the Rose Bowl. We have got to back that up on Saturday. Oregon State is now 0-2 in the Pac-10 and they know that if they want to go anywhere, they know what they have to do: they have to come down here and beat us.

'It's important, but I think you're going to be able to ask me that same question every week. From here on out, it's all conference teams. All these Pac-10 teams have nice records right now and we are going to start knocking each other off.'

Sum up how the secondary has done this year so far.

'In our secondary, we play five DB's all the time. I think that we have three DB's that are playing fantastic right now. R.J. Oliver is playing very well at one corner. I haven't seen everybody, but I think that Jason Shivers and Riccardo Stewart are two of the best safeties in the league. Colin Wallace is certainly an excellent player at SC but I think those guys are right there.

'The other two spots, we have had a lot of guys hurt. Al Williams was, during preseason, going to be a returning starter at one of those spots, is now playing with two casts on his hands. He missed a couple games. We brought in Matt Fawley, a true freshman, who plays fine for a true freshman, and he breaks his arm and has surgery. Brett Hudson is a guy that we recruited out of Junior College to be a depth player, to challenge for starting time at that safety spot. Brett pulls his hamstring and misses two or three weeks. We have to move him to corner, and he has a hand injury in the game. We lose Emmanuel Franklin in spring ball, we lose Lamar Baker at fall camp, two guys with a lot of starting experience and excellent cover guys. So we are down and between Adrian Thomas, Josh Golden, a redshirt freshman, and Mike Davis, a true freshman, those guys are competing as hard as they can, all of them.

'Are other teams picking on them? Yes. Would we be doing the same thing? Yes. We were trying to roll the coverage and give them some help when we can, but that's really not our style of defense. They have made some plays, Josh had an interception the other night, Mike Davis had two or three really nice plays in the Stanford game and we have to play our style and they have to grow up. It's going to be good for us in the long run, but it hurts us a little bit in the short term.

'Oregon State is having problems with their offensive line depth, right now our problems are in the secondary. I'm proud of how those guys are competing and giving effort. We can't get down on them because, even with what happened on Saturday night at the corner spot, we still had plenty of chances to get it done. We overcame it and we have got to get it done in other areas.

'We don't play very much two deep zone, where the corner rolls up and the safety rolls over the top. We play very little of it. Somebody asked a question to Coach Erickson, 'Why do we have all these guys throwing for 400 yards?' Because every defensive coordinator in the Pac-10 says we need to stop the run and they put eight or nine guys in the tackle box and, guess what, your corners are covering one-on-one. Every team has at least one really good receiver, it's Newsome for Oregon State, some teams have more than one. With Daryl Lightfoot coming back, we have a couple. Washington has got a great one, Arizona has got a great one, Washington State has got a great one, USC has got a great one. If teams want to start playing cover two and double up on the wide outs, then you'll start seeing teams rush for 200 yards.'

How good is the OSU secondary, and how are they getting all their interceptions?

'First off, they lost one of their safeties last week, and they are good enough right now that the guy that replaced him was the starter last year. That's how good the secondary is. They have two really good shutdown corners. They are a zone team, a quarters team, which enables them to drop their safeties down and help, but, unlike a lot of these quarters teams, they pressure you almost every down. They are going to line Weathersby up square on the nose of the receiver, and they play bump-and-run almost the whole game, challenging you to throw fade routes. Not very many people have hit fade routes, UCLA hit one. People may get one a game, but they are not getting five or six a game.

'Their linebackers have some of those interceptions. Their middle linebacker, Siegler, plays the ball really well, he's got great speed for a middle linebacker and he has some of those [interceptions]. They are a quarters team, but they play a lot of man within their zone.'

How do you see their defense matching up with your offensive guys?

'We are watching the film and studying the tape right now, like we do every week. We have a procedure that we go through for our offensive coaching staff in how we try to determine our game plan. They give you problems. They are one of those teams, and Coach Erickson was exactly like this at Miami, where they don't do a lot. They play 4-3 and quarters. When he was in Miami, he had Ray Lewis as his middle linebacker. Coach Erickson's style has always been to play basic defense, but to play it with good players. They play it really well. They don't have a lot of adjustments and for the most part, they know what they are going to do. They do zone blitz a little bit, they don't man blitz a whole lot, but they are just really solid. They have good speed on defense and all those linebackers run well. The guy that is overlooked is [Nick] Barnett, the strong-side linebacker. That guy is a stud and a really good football player.'

UCLA went to the tight end a lot. Was that something they saw in the Oregon State defense?'Actually, we talked to UCLA's coaches this morning. UCLA's tight end, Sideman, is one of the best players at his position in the league. He is size-wise a tight end but speed-wise more like a wide receiver. I think that's just part of UCLA's structure. They try to get the ball to Sideman, especially the last two games, and they've had a lot of success doing it. He's had over a hundred yards each of the last two weeks, so we are watching that film, and we'll try to learn something from it.

'They did some nice things, using their tight end, and I think the things they did with him, Mike Pinkard is certainly capable of doing. We only attempted two passes towards Pinkard last week and I want to say that Pinkard probably played the hardest he's played all year in the game. Mike did a nice job of blocking and, because Riccardo Stewart was banged up a little bit, he had to go in and play the wing position on our punt team. He did an excellent job and I am pleased with his progress right now. Everyone wants to judge him by how many catches he had, but there are plenty of tight ends out there that are playing at the next level and don't catch a lot of balls. They are not the featured guy in their offense, but they are still very valuable and Mike is getting better.'

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