Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Monday Press Conference

Sept. 24, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. -

On his feelings about moving into the Top 25:

'Not worth a hoot.  It doesn't make any difference to me.  It's nice that you're recognized, obviously.  ArizonaState's out there, as far as the public and all that is concerned.  But it really has no effect on us whatsoever.  You lose one game, you're unranked, so it doesn't make any difference.  But it's nice to be recognized.  That's basically about it.'

 

On this week's game at Stanford:

'Stanford's a really improved football team.  Coach [Jim] Harbaugh has done a tremendous job there.  They're playing extremely hard.  They had an opportunity against Oregon.  They were ahead at halftime.  Same thing when you watch the UCLA game.  It was real close, a play here, a play there, could have been different.  They dominated San JoseState, as we did.  Defensively, I really like the intensity level that they're playing at.  They're playing hard.  They're running around.  They're young at a lot of areas, but they're very solid, very well-coached.  Probably the biggest change is offensively.  Coach Harbaugh has brought in an offense where they're throwing the football a lot.  They've got some good skill guys.  T.C. Ostrander is one of the better quarterbacks around, has been for a long time.  I remember him coming out of high school, I was at OregonState when he came out, was very heavily recruited.  They're doing some things with him right now that really give them a chance to win.  They got a couple of wide receivers, you guys remember Evan Moore that played last year, that was hurt I believe.  He's six-foot-seven, so they get him in one-on-one situations with smaller corners and they take advantage of that.  Their running game has been very good.  Anthony Kimble has played very well for them over his career and particularly now.  Their offensive front really is a veteran offensive front in a lot of areas.  Mark Bradford is an awfully good receiver.  So they've got some weapons offensively and have scored a lot of points.

 

Like any game in the Pac-10, we've got our hands full, just got to prepare this week.  The first time that we've been on the road, so that's something new for us and me as a head coach.  You just got to go play well on the road.  To me, being on the road and playing on the road is something that's a business trip.  That's what it's about.  It's not about vacation.  It's not about a family visit, or anything like that.  It's about being focused on playing football.  We're going to treat it as that.  We've got to play good on the road.  Every place that I've been, we've played pretty good on the road, because of how we look at it.  In this league, it's hard on the road, like any place.  We've just got to play well on the road and really focus on what's going on.  There are things on the road that you've got to deal with.  There's obviously noise in stadiums that you have to deal with, particularly offensively.  So those are things that we've worked on before but we'll continue to work on as we prepare for wherever we're playing.  It's going to be a challenge for us.  Every week's a challenge for this football team.  We're young in a lot of areas.  We're just learning about a lot of things, so this will be a new experience for all of us.'

 

On the defense forcing turnovers:

'Our turnovers have been interceptions more than anything, so those things are created by playing good coverage, understanding what's going on as far our routes are concerned.  Robert James has got a couple.  Our safeties have had a couple.  And there were a couple of those interceptions that people won't notice where the guy was hit as he was throwing the football.  Everybody can talk about sacks, and obviously sacks are very important.  There's no question about that.  But as you look at a game defensively, how much pressure are you putting on that quarterback.  When turnovers occur in the passing game, a lot of time it's because of pressure or a guy was hit when he threw it, and that was the case twice the other night against OregonState.  We put pressure on him, and he was hit or had to hurry something in those situations, and our guys caught the ball.  There's a lot of times you see those things thrown out there and they don't catch it.  It's a combination of all those things.  We preach it.  Coach Bray and the defensive coaches preach it.  Obviously it was a key in that football game Saturday night.  We get six turnovers.  That's a lot of turnovers, that's plus four.  You should win games like that, and that's basically the reason that we won that football game against OregonState.  We got them in situations where they were in long yardage or got behind and couldn't run the football, so they had to throw it and that created some problems for them too.'

 

On LB Robert James:

'He's playing awfully good right now.  You're really talking about a guy that didn't play very much last year.  I've said this before, when we came in as a coaching staff and we watched tape of last year's football team, when he was playing and wasn't hurt, he made all kinds of plays.  He's blessed with a nose for the football, and he's blessed with great speed and acceleration.  When you see great defensive players and great defensive teams, that's what they have, and he has all those things.  He'll get better and better just because of the experience of playing.  He played better in that game than he did in the first game, so I look for Robert to continue to get better every time we play.  He's a great blitzer.  We haven't blitzed him as much as hopefully we are going to blitz him as time goes on.  But like I say, he has a nose for the football and makes a lot of plays.'

 

On the slow starts against Colorado and OregonState:

'I worry about slow starts, obviously, you want to start a game right out of the chute fast.  There's no question about that.  Sometimes that doesn't happen.  That's happened to us twice.  On the other side of the coin, we've been able to overcome them.  But there are teams we fall behind to that we've got ahead on our schedule that can become a real problem.  Nobody plans to start slow, but we have.  Offensively, in both games, we've had opportunities to move the football with our first drive and haven't done that, and then we ended up punting obviously, and we all saw what happened there.  I think to me it's more about trying to, when you have the football early in the game, you've got to get some first downs, and we didn't do that in either of those two games that we started slow.'

 

On the attitude of the team with two comeback wins:

'The players believe in themselves, and they believe in the schemes and what's going on, and they believe that they have an opportunity to be successful.  So then they play.  The thing about coming back, we've been fortunate enough to make some big plays when we were behind in the passing game.  In both situations, we were not running the football very well.  All of a sudden, you start making plays on offense, some big plays like we've been able to do, Rudy [Carpenter] and the receivers, then all of a sudden that picks up the defense.  So now you get a turnover, and you have to have those to come back, because there are times where people are going to take things away from you, and if you're not able to make a big play and you can't sustain drives because of the running game and how they play it, you've got to make big plays.  If you can't make them, then you're not going to have the opportunity to come back.  We've been able to do that, whether it's with our quarterback or our receivers. As those games transpire, then all of a sudden you saw turnovers occur because now the other offense is starting to press a little bit.  The players make plays, coaches don't make plays.'

 

On how much easier it is to make adjustments with a staff that's worked together for so long:

'We pretty much know what's going on.  We've seen a lot of things over the years.  I don't know if that's good or bad, but we have.  When people do certain things to us on either side of the football, we're able to go from A to B.  We're able to do that on the sidelines, just because we've done it.  Does it always work?  No, but we're able to make those adjustments a little faster than maybe a new staff that hasn't been together.  We think alike and know what we want to do in our philosophy of the game, not saying that that's the answer, but we know what we need to do.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.'

 

On S Josh Barrett:

'He played 30 plays on defense.  The problem with Josh right now is that he's got a pectoral injury that really limits how much he can play and it really bothers him.  But he came in and played quite a bit on defense and actually played his best Saturday night.'

 

On the offensive line:

'We did not play, in the offensive front, like we're capable of playing, I mentioned that earlier.  We just didn't play like we're capable of.  It wasn't just one guy.  It was a group.  I thought Mike Pollak played extremely well at center.  We did not protect like we're capable of protecting.  As we go down the road here in our next eight football games, we've got to continue to improve in the offensive line.  Those seven guys are the guys that are going to play.  But as a whole, we did not play like we're capable of playing.  We didn't protect like we needed to, and we've just got to get better at it.  The only way to do it is to just continue to practice.  We've played better than that, and we will play better than that, but it was one of those days.  You don't like to see them, but it happens.  What we did do in the offensive line though is that when we had to, we played well, at the end of the game.  We picked up some things, they did some things different to us, and then we finally made some adjustments, and we gave Rudy some time.  Then we ended up running the football at the end.  At times, you're not going to move the ball in the running game well early.  Teams are fired up on defense.  They fly around, and they stop you early in the running game.  That's why I like to throw it early in the game.  But once you wear them down at the end of the football game, you start running the football a little bit better, and we were able to do that in the fourth quarter, which made a difference in the game.

 

It was a matter of staying after them.  They're [OregonState] a good defense now.  I'm going to tell you something about OregonState, they're going to win a lot of football games.  That defensive front and those linebackers, that's a good group.  One of the better I've seen on tape, and they obviously were against us.  Nobody is going to go in there, maybe other than SC, and run the football down their throat.  I promise you that.  You've got to stick with it.  That's going to happen to us this year.  You're not going to go in the Pac-10 and just run the ball down somebody's throat all the time.  You're just not going to do it.  You've got to be very balanced offensively and do a lot of different things offensively.  But when you do run it, you may get four, you may get three, but if you continue to do it, eventually at the end of the game, you're going to be able to run the football, and that happened to us.'

 

On Rudy Carpenter's scrambling:

'I guess nobody really has a feeling of Rudy as a scrambler.  He's not a Dennis Dixon [of Oregon] that runs 4.5 or somebody like that, or a [Jake] Locker up at the University of Washington.  But what Rudy does is he gives himself a second chance.  To me, great quarterbacks give themselves a second chance.  When there's pressure on them, they get out of the pocket and they make plays.  As I said before, he's a competitor, he's got a big heart, and he's tough.  He knows how to make plays.'

 

On Jim Harbaugh:

'As a player, Jim Harbaugh was a warrior.  He was tough.  I watched him play many times, and he played like that.  They're playing like that.  He's a great thing for Stanford football.  He's fired up, and he knows what it takes to win and be successful, and he's relating that to his players, and that's how they play.  Offensively, he's done a great job with T.C. Ostrander, he's getting better all the time.  As you watch them on tape, they are explosive.  They're playing like his personality.  They're a good football team, and they'll get better all the time.'

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