Arizona Football Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 10, 2003

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Mike Hankwitz's REMARKS

ON THE USC TROJANS:

'We have a great challenge this week. This is certainly one of the top teams in the country. They have great talent, they utilize that talent, they play hard, and they execute. You don't see them up and down; they lost an overtime game to Cal, but they are not ranked second in the BCS for nothing. This will be the fifth team we play this season that is ranked in the top 10 right now. We have the sixth-toughest schedule in the country to this date and by far the most difficult in the Pac-10. I know this will be a tremendous challenge because of where they are ranked in the BCS; they have a lot at stake. I look forward to seeing how our players respond, and they have to be excited about going out and playing. We are learning, and we are finding out what we are capable of doing.'

ON USC'S 'WILD BUNCH II' DEFENSIVE LINE:

'They are excellent. They have great team speed. The one thing I have found out over the years is that what separates a good defense from a great defense is the talent of your defensive line. When you have big guys that are athletic and can run, it just adds another dimension to you, and they have those kinds of guys. They are going to be a tremendous challenge for our offense.'

'They don't try to trick you; they don't need to. They line up and play a lot of fundamental things, and there is a lot to be said about that. They don't blitz and throw a lot of things at you, but what they do, they are going to do so well, and they are so good at it that they make it extremely difficult. They don't make a lot of mistakes, and they have such great speed.'

ON USC'S RUNNING BACKS:

'They do it by committee. They don't have one guy with 1,000 yards, but between (LenDale) White, (Hershel) Dennis and (Reggie) Bush, they have three guys who have over 1,400 yards combined. If you look at their yards per attempt - 5.8, 4.9 and 5.7 - those are obviously outstanding statistics. They all have long runs because they have great speed, and they utilize them in different ways. What makes them dangerous is that if they hit a crease and they get past your linebackers, they are in the secondary so fast that sometimes they get a chance to split the defensive backs. Then, they will throw to them out of the backfield using their speed either right down the middle or on wheel routes down the sideline where they feel they have a chance to get a mismatch. They have done a nice job of utilizing their abilities.'

ON USC QUARTERBACK MATT LEINART:

'He obviously has learned their offense extremely well because he knows where to go with the ball, and they give up the least amount of sacks in the Pac-10. There is not a lot of indecision; he does not sit there and hold the ball and let the rush get to him. He has made very few bad throws; he only has seven interceptions, so he has done a great job. They do a lot with their offense, but you don't see any indecision in where he is supposed to go with the ball. He gets the ball to the right people, and he has enough mobility to escape and get out of some problems. He has executed extremely well. He has played so consistently that with their great running talent and great receivers, he has allowed them to utilize all of their talent.'

ON USC'S ONLY LOSS OF THE SEASON:

'In the first half, Cal controlled the ball and kept it away from USC. They built up a lead, but USC came back and sent the game into overtime. You have to give Cal credit because they did a nice job of attacking their defense and getting rid of the ball and exploiting minor things. USC obviously has learned from that.'

ON ARIZONA'S WIN OVER WASHINGTON:

'It was just as much fun watching the video again as it was Saturday night. I was so happy for our players and our coaches because they have continued to work hard. When I look back at the game, I think the key thing was that we overcame adversity. We weren't playing as well as I had hoped early on defense; we missed tackles, and it was 14-0. I knew we could play better than that, and then Mike Bell broke the run, and then that gave us a tremendous spark. Then, we had a blocked punt, and Washington took over on the 20 yard-line, and we went out there and held them to nothing. I knew then that we had a chance to win that game.'

'We came out and outscored them 21-8 in the second half. To come from behind and overcome that type of adversity made it even a more gratifying way to win. Our offense did a great job; we ran for 250 yards, the most Washington has given up all year. One of they keys to the game was the little extra effort that our players gave. All in all, of course there are things we would like to improve upon, but I am just happy for our players, and I am very proud of their effort.'

ON SOPHOMORE HALFBACK Mike Bell:

'Mike Bell had a great game. He has established himself as one of the best running backs in the league. He has 811 yards, so if we could get him to 1,000, that would be a great accomplishment for him.'

ON TRUE FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK Kris Heavner:

'Kris Heavner played better in the second half. In the first half, he was a little tentative, and the interception he threw was an end-zone blitz that Washington had not used, and the corner made a diving interception. He was 4-of-11 in the first half with some drops, but in the second half, he was 6-of-9 when we really needed it.'

ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE:

'The offensive line continues to do a good job. John Abramo gets better each week. And, we only gave up the one sack against a good defense. On one of (Mike) Bell's long runs, (John) Abramo blocked two guys. He came down, blocked one, came back and blocked another.'

ON THE WIDE RECEIVERS:

'The receivers had four drops, but they are young, and they are getting better. They are playing hard, and they did a great job blocking down field. On two of those long (Mike Bell) runs, our receivers were down the field blocking, and I thought they really gave extra effort out there. I think we can continue to get better each week in that area.'

ON THE DEFENSE:

'One of the keys to the game was that we adjusted to the speed of the game. I was very pleased that we overcame the start and adjusted to the speed. We really got better as the game went along. We tackled better as the game went along, and we got up under them and challenged in our coverages man-to-man and did a good job. They made a couple of catches; there were a couple of times that I thought we could have prevented a play. But, Reggie Williams did not beat us; he had 13 catches, less than 10 yards per catch and no touchdowns, so we did not let him beat us. Our ability to pressure (Cody) Pickett was key because I thought he was a very competitive and poised quarterback, and yet we were able to pressure him just enough that he wasn't as effective as he had been in some other games. We had four sacks and missed three other ones, and we pressured them other times, too.'

'Joe Siofele continues to anchor us there, Darrell Brooks played solid again, and our corners did an excellent job of covering them. Marcus Smith had 10 total tackles, three for losses, and two sacks. I really think he is coming on and emerging. Earlier in the year, he had ruptured some ligaments in his thumb, and he had to play with a club for a while and then a cast, but he still couldn't use his hand. And, with offensive linemen playing the way they do now and the way they can hold legally, it is hard to play with one hand on defense. In the last two weeks, however, he has been able to play with both hands, and he is just playing better and better.'

ON THE SPECIAL TEAMS UNIT:

'On special teams, our kickoff coverage was good overall, and out punt team punted the ball well. We had a breakdown, however, when we had the blocked punt. They had a return where they clipped us twice. With our returns, we are misfiring; we are not getting a key block here or there, and we have not broken anything. We bobbled the snap on the field goal, which was a little high, but one we think we can still get down. We missed a field goal.

ON ENJOYING THE WIN OVER WASHINGTON:

'That's the tough thing about football because you can't enjoy a win for very long; you have to go to work and get focused on the next opponent. I would like to think that our guys will come out tomorrow excited about practicing and working hard, knowing that is what helped us get the win over Washington. They know how good USC is, so they know it is a great challenge. Our whole thing all along has been to do something that we can look back on and be proud of, that we finished strong, and that we did some things at the end that we can point to and be proud of. Obviously, if you could knock off the No. 2 team in the country or beat your archrival, either one of those would be something you could look back on and be proud of. We still have great things that we can accomplish, and that win (over Washington) helps give us a better chance to do those things.'

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