Husky Football Weekly Press Conference

Sept. 24, 2001

General Remarks: 'The victory against Idaho was exciting and I think it provided some optimism from the standpoint that we improved some but it was also costly in that we lost three top players to the extent that none will be available for this week's game. Jerramy Stevens and Braxton Cleman, their injuries will probably keep them from playing until the last week of the season. Willie Hurst is out for the Cal game, I guess I'd list him as doubtful, but unless there is some marked improvement over the next couple of days it does not seem likely that he will compete in the game this weekend. So, that by itself makes it a real challenge to go down to Cal and find a way to win the game. Certainly there has been lots of comments and conversation about Cal and the beginning of their particular season that makes an imposing coach very leery in that this is a team that has lots of pride, given the games that we have had with them over the last couple of years, and they will fight tooth and nail to get a victory and end a long streak. We have got a tall, tall challenge and hopefully we can continue to focus on improving and the players that are going to be called to be played in place of some of our more veteran players, can hopefully rise to the challenge. The other thing that makes me nervous is that this is our first road game. A lot of our players have never been on the road and we don't know how that will affect them in their preparation to play our first Pac-10 game. There are lots of things that make me nervous, but this is what we have been looking forward to, that being Pac-10 play, and we are excited for the challenge going down, finding a way to win against a very good Cal team.'

On Curtis Williams being at the Cal game: 'He is very excited about coming to this week's game. His brother David has secured transportation that is going to help them travel north to Berkeley. We are still working out some of the details about where he is going to sit during the game, but we are excited that he will be with us.'

On the offensive philosophy against California: 'I don't know that we are going to deviate from our offensive philosophy much. In watching California they play a lot of man coverage and they have given up some big plays, but we have to be who we are and we don't want to put too much on our offensive line or our young quarterback. If you look at the numbers we threw 22 passes in game one and Cody threw 20 in game two. We are trying to be conservative, and yet we do believe we have some weapons outside. You mentioned Reggie Williams, our freshman wide receiver and certainly we believe that we have other guys that can make some plays. We are hopeful that we can be productive both running and throwing.'

On the running back situation: 'We have got some flexibility. We have proven in the past, we are willing to move the shells around to create a full team. Rich Alexis will be our starting tailback and then we will work with Chris Singleton and Ty Eriks, who are our true freshman tailbacks. But we can also move Paul Arnold back there. As you know, Paul is a very team-oriented guy and happy to do whatever he can to help. I think he likes being on the outside and playing wide receiver and he has put a lot of investment in to doing so, but I think he is willing to do whatever it takes. We will tinker with him at tailback as well.'

On Willie Hurst and his hamstring injury: 'Well, anytime you have a hamstring injury, you are nervous because it is impossible to know how long you need to heal. People can say they are fine, we have had times where a guy thought he was fine, but all of a sudden he tweaks it again. You want to error on the side of conservatism. Given that, I think it would be wise to not hurry him back. It does not have anything to do with who we are playing, but it is usually a little longer injury than what your body tells you.'

On Paul Arnold's practice schedule this week: 'Not exactly sure about that, we haven't worked out all the details of that. He has been the workhorse of all our wide receivers, he is the only one who hasn't missed a drill. He has been unbelievably reliable from a physical standpoint. As I said, he is extremely willing to do whatever he can do to help our football team.'

On backups stepping up into starting roles: 'It is not a perfect world, but sometimes you have to make do, given the circumstances you face. Braxton was having a great game, he will receive the player of the game on offense, but he is out and so is Hurst. Now we have got to decide who are best weapons are at each position and go forward.'

On special teams: 'We are excited about special teams and that is the reason we put such a high priority on speed when we are recruiting. It certainly makes the offensive coordinator's job much easier when he only has to put together a one-play drive that results in a touchdown. Although, he was wondering if he was still going to get paid when there were three in a row and he was unable to call a play, in however many minutes. It has been fun and hopefully we can continue to be explosive in that department.'

On North Carolina upsetting Florida State and if there is any relation to this week's game: 'I really don't study the landscape of college football, other than right here. For those of you who are just looking at it as a fan, I can see where you get the analogy. For us, we are just trying to improve. We have pointed to this weekend the entire preseason because this is now the beginning of Pac-10 play. It is critical to be on all cylinders as we prepare to get into a Pac-10 race. The goal every year is to be in the hunt every November and we are starting that process now.'

On losing Jerramy Stevens: 'Well, we are minus a weapon. I thought Joe Collier played really well, in fact he was the other offensive player of the game. But he is not Jerramy Stevens in terms of his ability downfield. He can handle the line of scrimmage and do some neat things in the passing game, but we are minus a weapon. We have to put our thinking caps on and utilize our weapons on offense.'

On Joe Collier and John Westra in terms of blocking: 'They are both capable blockers and now given the current situation we are going to have to improve as rapidly as possible. There is great pride in this program that when someone goes down, someone else picks up the flag and runs with it and both guys find themselves in that position.'

On competition this week at the tight end position: 'Absolutely. There will be great competition, as I hope there is at all times. Certainly given our wide receivers and how they played, they are going to be competing for playing time, especially now that Justin Robbins is available. It makes for a healthy situation.'

On Charles Frederick: 'It was neat to have him enjoy that success, especially following the fumble. He is growing, as all young players do, and hopefully he can evolve as a receiver. Certainly he handled some kick returning duties, but I think he is immensely talented and he can make some big plays in the receiving area too.'

On the offense and any advantages of facing Idaho before Pac-10 play: 'The biggest advantage is to get out there and play. When you don't get the ball for four series, and one of them is at the10 yard line going in, you don't get very many opportunities to actually play. Those last two drives of the first half were critical, not so much in terms of the outcome of the game, but for our offense to get some momentum. I thought we had a nice drive to start the third quarter, but we mishandled an option pitch and ended up having to punt. Then Taylor Barton got a chance to knock one in. But we still have work to do as an offense. People say that it has been an advantage not to play Miami at the time. Although as a coach you want chances to win games, you also want the opportunities to practice and play, and we missed an opportunity there and we are a little bit behind.'

On the schedule of Stevens' return: 'Well, it really is a function of how fast it heals. The normal healing process is eight weeks. Eight weeks from now is about the end of our season. Now, if it heals faster than that then perhaps he gets out there too soon and it breaks again, now it is even longer. You just kind of have to let things take their course. The same thing with Tyler Krambrink right now who is trying to come back from a wrist injury. Unfortunately, we thought it would be 4-6 weeks, but it is looking more like 6-7, and that is just a function of how fast the bones heal. He is about ready to drown from all the milk we are giving him, but it is just not working.'

On Idaho's game plan against Stevens: 'There was certainly a real emphasis of keeping him on the line of scrimmage and there was real effort to bang him off the line of scrimmage. Down the field there were some schemes to double cover, but it is not usual to double cover tight ends because that leaves wide receivers open. There was a lot of 'Pachinko' being played with Jerramy when he was trying to get open inside. I thought he played really well. The catch that he made for the touchdown, he made with a broken foot. He hurt his foot on the first catch of the game, went out of the game, said he was fine and went back in. He made a spectacular catch on the touchdown that was called back. He has already red-shirted so hopefully we can qualify for postseason and have him back for that.'

On the possibility of using both freshman tailbacks: 'I'm still kind of debating it over in my mind. I'm not sure that Chris was that ahead of Ty, we just decided that Chris was going in. Then I was waiting until I found out the extent of Willie's injury, because you just don't really know with a hamstring injury. We are going to practice Ty, but I haven't quite figured that out, that is why I want Paul to be ready. Matthias is another option and might be a viable alternative as well.'

On the grade of the team thus far: 'We like the fact that we are 2-0. We like the fact that we hung in there and beat a really good Michigan team. We are not on all cylinders and yet, I believe we have weapons that are new to us, given Reggie's emergence and the depth at wide receiver. We are minus a weapon with Stevens. Willie not being able for this game is a negative. The real nice thing is that the offensive line has hung in there and the other thing is that Cody Pickett has played so well. He has played within himself and made good decisions. His only interception was supposed to be a touchdown pass, but Willie dropped it. The bottom line is that I think we are on track, we are not there yet , but we are on track. If we continue with a sense of urgency I believe we can become a good offense. I thought we made real strides with defense, in terms of tackling. We have to make sure a good a good back like Joe Igber split us as Idaho did on three runs over 15, 20 yards. We have got to keep that from happening.

On the Cal players: 'They have had a lot of good players. Coach Holmoe just mentioned two great ones on the defensive front in Andre Carter and Jacob Waasdorp that were definitely difficult to maintain. Deltha O'Neal played on that team, he is in the NFL. They have had great players at Cal and I think they have some quality personnel this year. They gang up on you, if you don't have weapons outside it can be a long afternoon. Two years ago, we only had 10 completions, but they were for 300 yards. Last year, they kept us from making big plays and then our defense rose to the occasion and created some turnovers. We know all too well that this is a capable football team, especially on their home soil they will be excited to play us.'

On any fears of flying after last week's national tragedies: 'I'm sure there will be those with some anxiety, given the events of the past week. But it is a charter aircraft, we know everybody onboard. It's kind of the old saying 'we gotta get back on the horse.' We need to get back to a normal style of living and go through things and hopefully our kids will be in the sprit of that.'

On Roc Alexander: 'He has made some big plays in his first two games. He has two interceptions, two touchdowns, one off of a blocked field goal and the other off a kick return. He really should have had a third touchdown on the opening kick of the second half. If he would have brought it inside I think he would have been gone again. He is an exceptional talent and is maturing into a very good player, in terms of experience level. I think I will enjoy watching him while he keeps getting better and better.'

On recruiting speed: 'We certainly emphasize it in our evaluation process. We try to get legitimate track times on guys. We make sure that we are also recruiting football players who also run track, rather than track guys who play football. There is no perfect science to this, other than putting them into positions where they can use their speed. We try to impact the game as much as possible, especially in the special teams area, in raw running ability. The term that coaches use a lot is 'burst.' We want to see burst, especially at the corners, catch-up speed. Everyone is going to get turned around because wide receivers are well-coached and they are gifted and get scholarships too. But how well they can get back on is a tell-tale sign that we look for in recruiting those atheltes.'

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