Quotes from Dennis Erickson on Media Day.
Aug. 4, 2007
'This time of the year is really exciting for coaches, players, fans, everybody. We're all undefeated at this time. The excitement of college football, going to camp, and improving and getting better and better is what college football is all about. That's what separates it from everything else. So, it's a great time. We've practiced two times so far, and it's been exciting. The biggest thing I looked at as we practiced the first couple days is what kind of retention we had on offense and defense, hat did they do this summer, what kind of condition are they in, and things like that. I was really happy with that aspect of it. I thought that the two days we went through a lot of the things that we went through in the spring and they retained that extremely well, which will enable us to put more things in offensively and defensively. They worked very hard this summer on their own doing a lot of different things. I think we're in very good condition at this point, and those first two practices were fun. Of course now we have three or four more days here, we're in shells today and tomorrow, and then we go into pads Monday and then we have a two-a-day on Tuesday. Then we go up to Camp T on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to that, and I know our players are really looking forward to it, getting up there and bonding, all 120 men up there up bonding. It's a great thing as far as just focusing on the things that are really important, which is getting ready to play their first football game.'
On his early impressions of Rudy Carpenter:
'I thought he had a great spring. He picked up what we do offensively as well as anybody that I've ever had. He's a football junkie. He spends a lot of time studying the game. He cares about the game. He studies opponents. Football is so important to him. I thought that he had an excellent spring. He didn't make a lot of mistakes and he threw the ball very accurately. I haven't seen any difference in the last two days practice-wise. He stepped out on Thursday like he'd been there and hadn't missed a beat. Those guys did a lot together as a group on both sides of the ball in the summertime, so they came out an executed very well on both sides of the football. He's become a leader. We give him a little flexibility. He's our quarterback. That's a comfort level. A lot of people talk about competition, and I think that's good in a lot of areas on the football field, but there's a point sometimes at quarterback where you're the guy and it's your team that you relax and you just play. I'm excited about watching him play this fall.'
On Rudy Burgess:
'Rudy came and played at the end of spring football for a couple weeks after he was hurt, but I thought he really did some good things. I felt with Rudy that it was time to put him in a place where he's going to make things happen. I think because of depth problems that he was moved around from offense to running back to receiver to defense and different places. When he and I had a conversation, I just was very honest with him and said `Rudy you're going to make plays here offensively at receiver.' Whether it's outside or in the slot, we can do a lot of things with him to make plays to make us a good football team. So far from what I've seen, he's going to really do some good things for us.'
On getting to know the team:
'My office is always open and guys come through there all the time. Sometimes in certain programs they are afraid to do that, but they'll come through and we'll talk about anything. I'll go down to the weight room or the training table and just talk to them and get to know them. I don't know that you really know each other until you get into a season, but it's a good group. They've done everything that we've asked them to do. We've asked him to work hard in the winter, we've asked him to work hard in spring football, we've asked them, as a group, on their own because of the rules, to do certain things in the summertime and they did it. They didn't have to, but they've done it. There's going to be some rewards for all that stuff.'
On making defense more physical:
'We scrimmaged quite a bit in the spring. You'll see that in the fall, but the difference between the fall and spring is that you have to get to a certain point where you have to get ready to play the game. But as far as Camp T and up until probably 10 days before our first game you're going to see a lot of contact. It's hard to tackle if you don't have pads on. You'll see a lot of tackling drills. As I've said before, for us consistently to win in this program, year in and year out where we're competing, we've got to become a great defensive football program, not just team on year, but a program. That means recruiting towards that, having that type of an attitude, letting people know how important defense is, and that it's team defense. It's not about being an individual. For us to win, we've got to become a great defensive football team.'
On preseason rankings and expectations:
'As far as rankings are concerned, who cares? I've been enough places where I've been ranked at the bottom that it really makes no difference. The rankings I'm concerned about are what happens in January. My expectations every year, and it's not going to change and it's never changed since I've been a head football coach, is to win every game. Now is that realistic? Probably not, it doesn't happen very often. I've been involved in one, and it was hard, but that's the attitude you've got to have. The old cliché of taking it one at a time is very true, and if you focus that way you'll end up winning a lot of football games. We want to compete for the Pac-10 championship, we want to compete to go to a good bowl game, we want to win more than we lose, and we want to be competitive every week on the field, just make people play hard to beat us. There's going to be some learning curves involved in it, but that's exciting.'
On the team leaving spring practice:
'When we went into the spring we had a couple goals. Number one, in my opinion, was to learn how to practice. Every coach does things different. I don't think there's a right or wrong, but our philosophy is to practice hard, fly around to the football, not be out there for a long period of time, but do it the right way. That was the first thing we tried to get done, and I think we did accomplish that in the spring. Basically we just have to get better as a team.'
On the team's defense:
'As you look at the areas, we've got to find a corner, a couple corners. Justin Tryon is a proven player. He's done it. Now we have to have somebody else step up and play there. Our safeties, I feel pretty good about where we're at there with [Troy] Nolan and Josh [Barrett]. Our linebacker corps, with Robert James back, we've got some good depth there and some guys that can play, with Morris Wooten and Mike Nixon. Our defensive front is an area where we've got to get better and develop depth both at tackle and defensive end. We brought Paul `Unga in, who's a junior college transfer, and the two days that he has been here looks awfully good. I really believe that he can help us at end or tackle.'
On the offense:
'Offensively, we've got to have big-play receivers. We've got some out there, and now they've got to become big-play receivers. The guy that's really been impressive in the two practices has been Mike Jones. He's involved in baseball and he's been in and out, but he's in pretty good condition and he's going to make plays for us. But we have to have some other guys step up. Our offensive front, we've got all those guys returning. We've got a lot of backs that are awfully good, led by Ryan [Torain]. So as you look at those things, as I sit back and look at our strengths and weaknesses and what are we going to do, I think we've got three pretty good running backs, our offensive front is good, they block really well, maybe we should run the football. So, that's how I got to that point.'
On Tyrice Thompson:
'He's going to be a real key for us. He's played special teams around here. When we came, we didn't know very much about him. We can play him in the slot in 3-wides, but more than that, he will be a move guy for us, so when we're in 2-tights, he'll be the tight end that moves. He catches the football and he can be a real threat down the field. He'll be used in a lot of different ways.'
On changes in the Pac-10 since previous stint in the league:
'The only way it's really changed is that when you watch SC play, it's a horror film if you're an opponent. They are good, let's face it. But what I've found is that the teams are a lot better and it's stronger from top to bottom than it was. Anybody can beat anybody on any Saturday. So you better be ready to play or else you're going to your rear ends beat. It's a lot better conference from top to bottom than it ever has been.'
On special teams play:
'Thomas Weber is our kicker. He was very inconsistent in the spring. He's got a huge leg. He can be really good, he's just got to keep plugging away. It's easy to go into a practice stadium and kick, but it's a little different when there are 75,000 people in there. It's a different game. Our punter, Jonathan Johnson, from what I've seen is one of the better ones that I've been around. And our return game with Justin Tryon and Kyle Williams can be real good. A guy that has jumped out is Kerry Taylor, a true freshman, and he can help us in a lot of different areas. Our cover teams have some good athletes that are committed to it, so we'll be a lot better.'
On the rule change moving kickoffs to the 30-yard line:
'That's the NFL, kicking it from the 30-yard line, and those guys couldn't kick it into the end zone, so now it becomes a cover/return opportunity. When you kick it, there's a lot more thought that comes in to what you're going to do with the kickoff. That's why they put the rule in, because they want more returns. So now you have to think about what you're going to do, are you going to kick it in the corner, are you going to kick it high, there's some thought that goes into it. When it was on the 35, a lot of guys that just kicked it out of the end zone, so that will make special teams a little bit different.'