Bay Area Football Media Day Press Conference Quotes

Aug. 9, 2001

Press Conference Quotes from Stanford's head coach and players:

Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham

On the start of the season:
'We are very excited to get going. We believe there are some very positive things in our program and at the same time we have some fresh blood coming in. We have three new coaches on our staff this year. They offer some new ideas and it forces the coaches that have been here to revalue everything that they have done. It is important that we are on the right foundation, and we are very excited. I think our young men are excited and for the most part they stayed here over the summer and enjoyed themselves, but at the same time they have done a great job training and preparing for the season.'

On the number of seniors:
'I don't know the exact number of seniors, but as my job as a coach I am going to coach whoever is out there. Most of the seniors are on the depth chart, so that means that they have been through the wars. They really understand what it takes to play and to play well at this level. They have been in your program and should understand your program, so they have greater internal knowledge than a new player coming in.'

On Randy Fasani:
'That guy can be absolutely the best that he can be. Randy has great size, great athletism, excellent speed, strong arm and a great mind. When you put those characteristics in there, it becomes very clear. You expect him to perform at a level and believe that he has the ability to be one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10.'

On Coy Wire:
'We are blessed to have a great football player in Coy. When you say something about him as an individual, that usually means you are shining away from him being a great football player. That is not the case with Coy, he is a tremendous football player and also happens to be a great person. He loves life, he is emotional, yet at the same time he is very cool and collected. He loves to hit, loves contact and wants to make things happen. You could go on and on talking about Coy and what he has brought to our football program. Without a doubt, there is a picture of Coy under what I would want a Stanford football player to be.'

On candidates for a receiver to step up:
'We have some players that have played solid football for us. Ryan Wells has been a very solid performer for us at receiver, as well as Luke Powell and Jamien McCullum. When you say step up, I imply that we want someone to step up and really become special, not be solid. We need the exceptional athlete, not just consistent. That is the dimension that we have to add because that translates into big plays. It is big plays now that characterizes most offenses at every level. Luke Powell has a chance to be that special receiver that we are looking for.'

On challenging players to take that next step:
'I am always a believer that you use everything you can in your conversation. You want guys to know what the history and tradition is here at Stanford and with Stanford receivers. You want guys also to be the best that they can be, so you find little things that motivates each one of them individually.'

On defensive line:
'Marcus is going to be one of our leaders and a guy that we are going to be counting on. Austin Lee, Trey Freeman and other guys that I am not mentioning. We are going to have to get a lot of guys to step up and perform at that next level. That next level varies from one guy to the next, and we have to have all of them step up.'

On the defense sacking attack:
'I think it is going to have to be a collective effort right now until one person emerges. There is nothing wrong with it being a collective effort. A team having 40 or 50 sacks over the course of the year, as opposed to two individuals having that number I believe there is nothing wrong with that. I think in the past we have been dominated defensively by two guys in Willie and Riall. Hopefully the Marcus Hoover's, the Coy Wire's and Tank Williams' will give us probably collectively the best defense that we have had at Stanford.'

On the running back situation:
'I am happy, pleased and comfortable with the young men that we have returning as our running backs. I think Kerry Carter is an excellent running back and we also have Brian Allen and Casey Moore. We have got some outstanding guys at this position. Our strength may not be an individual as much as it will be the collective ability of the entire crew. Playing time depends on how well they play and who is hot. We will feed the hot guy, and it all depends a great deal on how well they perform. We are pleased and very confident in any of those three guys and even the young guys are starting to come along.'

On the offensive line:
'They may be as talented as we have had, but that is one of the areas that I don't feel we have much depth in. We have to have some of our underclassmen step up and really raise their level of play.'

Senior Offensive Guard Eric Heitmann

On the possibility of playing in a Bowl game this season:
'When I think about the season, we have to be optimistic. Three years ago we had a 3-8 season, but the experience was better and we had a successful season the following year. This year we can't help but look at that as an example and build on it. We have 16 starters returning, and like Coach Willingham said, having a senior quarterback returning is a huge benefit. We have our entire offensive line attack that has a lot more confidence, strength and athleticism than we did a year ago. We are excited about this season and we have high expectations for the year.'

Commenting on how last year's experiences make the team better this season:
'Last season we were coming off a Rose Bowl year and traditionally in the Pac-10 the team that comes off a Rose Bowl year, usually does not have a great next year. I think what we wanted to do last year was to be a more aggressive team, even though we were younger and inexperienced. I think we were sort of on a wave last season, at times we were really successful and others not. At some points we did not come out on top, or someone would get injured and that would set us back. But by the end of the year, I think we finished strong and had some great victories. I think last year was a great season for experience, which got many players ready for this year.'

'I think if there's anything that we can take out of last year, it's that we finished fourth place in the Pac-10 behind three top-10 teams. So I really don't think last season was a complete flop. This year we're looking to convert that extra play that gets us over the top in those kinds of games. I think last year we were a couple plays away from a bowl game, and maybe even a few more plays away from being a contender. I think we all have that extra motivation knowing that we've gotten so close.'

On what it means to have a returning quarterback:
'I think it means a lot. For one thing it helps build our confidence when we are going out onto the field because we know that we have a guy in the backfield that keeps his composure and knows how to run the offense. That does a lot for our confidence and makes us play harder.'

Senior Inside Linebacker Coy Wire

On the team beginning to come together as a unit:
'I really think you can tell we're starting to bond. We've been hanging out a lot together- a couple barbecues, pool parties, getting involved in functions around the community. The one thing you can begin to see is the look in everyone's eye. When you're conditioning and you can look at the guy across from you and see the look in his eye and the excitement from that- you know the focus is there. I've been on good teams in the past, and I can begin to sense this team has some chemistry.'

Talking about his role on the field:
'I'm the kind of person who likes to live in the moment, so I feel pretty comfortable about whatever situation I'm in. I'm very excited about defense and the opportunities that are presented to me. I think I'm going to have the chance to be part of a defense that can do some really great things this season.'

On making the transition from offense to defense:
'As a linebacker, I'm basically the counterpart to the running back. That's what the way I look at it- that the offense and the defense have to counter each other in some way. Having played running back before, I find myself being able to feel where that running back is going to go or where the ball is on the field and I think that's a big advantage.'

Senior Defensive End Marcus Hoover

On having to play top-caliber teams in the Pac-10 each season:
'We love that because it shows the strength of our schedule. It just puts us in a position that we love to be in, and that's as the role of an underdog.

'I think we're going to open a lot of eyes this year. We have to realize now that we have to work as one unit. Before we had the main guys and then the supporting cast. Now that supporting cast are people that have to step up.'

On the Pac-10 media voting Stanford to finish in the middle of the conference:
'If you would ask that question to anyone on this team, they would tell you that the media is wrong in placing us anywhere but first.'

On what it's like to play for head coach Tyrone Willingham:
'Coach Willingham backs his players in every possible way. Five years ago, I would have told you that he's a great coach, and today I can stand here and tell you he's a great role model. The love that he shows for his players is unparalleled, and I just don't think you can question the decisions he makes.'

Talking about how the team gets better as the season continues:
'At the beginning of the season, guys are getting familiar with their new positions and stepping into new roles. If you look at our team now, we've got guys coming back who are comfortable and know what they have to do. There is a lot more confidence now than any of the previous years., and I think that is going to come from the leadership that we have now. There are 20-plus senior guys that are leading their spot at that particular position. There is so much positive talk going on in the locker room and during our workouts. We are all really eager to get the season started just to see what we can do. I think we're going to start fast and finish even faster.'

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