Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference
Sept. 29, 2008
On how the team responded during the bye week:
'This is a good group. They are no different than when we started the season. Unfortunately, we lost a couple games and now the resiliency of our players and coaches is going to be tested. That is exactly where we are at right now. Sometimes it is very difficult to realize for us as coaches and as players, and for you as fans, that we have eight games left. It is not the end of the world at this point. We have a lot to play for. We did a lot of work on that bye week to get better, because we are just starting our league and that's what it is all about. It was good preparation, and our players realized that. They realize what is ahead of them and we are going to practice well this week and see what happens this Saturday against Cal, one of the best football teams in our conference, and our first game on the road. So, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us.'
On Gerald Munns:
'Gerald has some personal issues that he is dealing with right now, so he won't be at practice tomorrow.'
On Keegan Herring:
'Keegan practiced yesterday. I wouldn't say he is 100 percent, but he is getting closer. I would anticipate him playing in the football game.'
'First of all, they are very well coached on both sides of the football. Jeff Tedford does a great job with a very innovative offensive mind. Their offensive front is probably one of the better ones we have seen and faced. Their center, Alex Mack, is probably the best center in football and I am sure he'll be a No. 1 pick a year from now. They run the football extremely well. They went to Maryland and didn't start real well, but dominated the game in the second half. So they're a good team. Defensively, they've changed their philosophy. They were a 4-3 team and because of personnel, they are now playing 3-4 and they have guys who play extremely well. Zach Follett has been there for a long time and he is a heck of a player, as well as Worrell Williams. So, they have some good football players and good down guys that play very well. I think they lead in our league against the run. They're a good football team. You look at them year in and year out over the past five or six years in our league, and they are one of the top teams, so we have a huge challenge ahead of us.'
On how Cal running back Jahvid Best compares to other running backs they have faced:
'He has better speed than anybody. He won the state 100 meters in California. I think he ran 10.3 or some gaudy number, so he just has great speed and accelerates through holes, catches the football, returns and he is an extremely good player.'
On if Omar Bolden is playing as well as he did last year:
'At times he has. He's probably not having the year he had a year ago, which doesn't mean anything, because he has a huge challenge ahead of him right now. We have to do a better job of getting him into position so he's more comfortable, but again he is playing OK. He's not playing and being as dominant as he was a year ago, but obviously that can change and hopefully it does.'
On Bolden's ability to deal with adversity:
'Guys like that are competitive. Guys like Omar Bolden, who have been great players, and still are great players. are very competitive. The reaction that I see from guys like that is that they come back and get better and better because that is the kind of athlete they are. He is one of the best and he will get better all the time and work on whatever it takes to play better. He is just so competitive and every player that I've had like that has reacted the same way.'
On their special teams against Cal:
'We better shore it up. They block punts, they return punts, and they've scored I believe, three or four times on special teams this year. They blocked one last week for a touchdown, returned one for a touchdown last week against Colorado State and same thing against Washington State. They are very explosive on special teams, in all areas. We just have to play like we are capable of playing. The one that we got blocked wasn't anything other than we weren't focused on what we were supposed to do. They got us, we stepped, took the wrong guy, the guy came inside, unblocked and almost beat the snap there. So, things like that can just happen. Now, that was a mental mistake more than anything. We get it off, Tommy Ohmart is snapping very well and Thomas Weber gets it off. We get it off under two flat all the time, and that is very difficult to block, unless you come absolutely free and there is a mental mistake up front, which is exactly what happened against Georgia. Punt cover, punt return; those are the biggest parts of your special teams, and you have to be good at it. We've been good at it for the most part, but that obviously was a costly mistake in that game.'
On four of the top 10 teams losing this weekend:
'Nothing surprises me, it really doesn't. It's like you tell your team all the time; there are a lot of opportunities out there for everybody that you play and the teams that you play. Anybody can win and that has been proven week in and week out. If you're supposedly the favorite and you're not ready to play then your going to get your rear-end kicked. That is just how it is and it happens all the time. I mean, those are just the ones in the top 10; there were probably seven or eight other upsets, at least, that happened. You talk to your team about things like that all the time and we've talked to them about it for years. Sometimes the only way to get their attention is for them to see things like that. In our league, obviously anybody can beat anybody. You just have to be ready to play and there will be some next week and the week after that.'
On who will start at right tackle:
'We haven't made a decision. If we were going to start tomorrow, [Tom] Njunge would be the starter, but [Matt] Hustad is pushing him. There are a lot of different options. We've played Shawn Lauvao out there and he's pretty good. We haven't made any decisions on what we are going to do yet.'
On Zach Schlink:
'He is going to play. He's backing up both at right and left guard, so he's our third guard. He played on a PAT and field goal. We had to solidify that up a little bit too from another game. It's amazing what you learn as you play. Zach will be our first substitute in at guard, so there is no way we can even consider redshirting the guy. He'll end up playing and helping us.'
On Clint Floyd:
'Clint is a football player. I guess that is the best way to describe him. You look at him on special teams and he makes plays all the time. You look at him at safety, he's probably not as big as you want him at this point, but he's always where the ball is and he always tackles well. He's really a great athlete. I got sold on him when he went to Crenshaw High School in L.A. I watched him play basketball and when you start for Crenshaw High School in basketball, you're a pretty good athlete. He just has that athletic ability, which is I guess the best way to put it. He just has a feel for the game.
On the team's struggles in the running game:
'Against Georgia we didn't run it. It's that simple. If I had a do-over, if I had a mulligan, I would just go in and run it more to give us a chance to run. I don't know if it has anything to do with anything other than saying, `let's make a commitment to running it more,' and we are going to do that now. How successful we are really depends on, not how many yards a game that you run it, but that you are physical and those kinds of things. I think we made a mistake not thinking we could go in and run it against Georgia in the game. Really that's the only game we never ran it. So, it's just about doing more and believing in what you're doing. Obviously we have to get better up front, but it's harder to run the ball if you don't run it. We made an effort last week to run it more and to give our guys a chance to do it, so we have to balance our offense out. That doesn't mean we are going to run it 40 times a game by any means, but it does mean that we have to be somewhat effective running the football.'