Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 1, 2001

Press Conference QuotesWashington Head Coach Rick NeuheiselOctober 1, 2001

General Remarks: 'We're excited that we find ourselves 1-0 in the conference. A year ago it was just the opposite, so we are thrilled that we are off to a decent start in the conference although we are a little bit alarmed the way California moved the ball so easily on us and so easily stopped us the first half of the game. So we've got a lot of improving to do and preparation for a very talented USC team. This is as a fast a college football team I have seen and sometime their win lost record is not exactly what they would liked. And they are certainly an explosive team that can play with anybody in the country. Given our situation we must, must improve if we expect to be successful this week so I am hopeful that everyone will batten down the hatches and have a great week of practice. And a great week of preparation and will play our best on Saturday, because we will have to be successful. '

On USC: 'You hit the nail in the head. This is a very frightening team especially given the athleticism that they have. A number of there players I personally tired to recruit so this is a very talented team with a new coaching staff, and with all that is learning there way and they are going to have a break out game here soon, and I hope it isn't this Saturday. '

On Injured Players: 'We have been fortunate that the kids we have asked to go in and play have done a nice job. I thought Joe Collier played really well. Kevin Ware made a big play at the tight end position in the absence of Jerramy Stevens. I thought Rich Alexis started to become a force at tailback in the absence of Willie Hurst and Braxton Cleman. And hopefully we can keep ourselves glued together so to speak and hang in there throughout the season. It has been a tough year on our program with injuries. '

On Cody Pickett: 'Well certainly we have not got all the offense on the table that we know or have used a year ago. We have tried to give it time to mature before moving on to new things. That's not because of Cody but certainly because of our inexperienced offensive line. But I think Cody has been very, very good in his first three weeks given all that he's seen. This last week he wasn't as sharp as he might have been in the first two weeks but he did have the experience of coming from behind to win the game. He did have the experience of getting the ball down the field and think those are going to be great stepping stones for his development. '

On the Offensive Line: 'Well as I said at the outset of our season our offensive line is going to be a work in progress and that is probably going to be true throughout the year. There is just no way to gain the experience without going through it and having the opportunity to play. And each week I think we improve and that's the focus of our staff is to make sure we are improving and that we continue to teach the same principles and teach the same scheme and try to get better. '

On Wayne Moses: 'Wayne is an excellent coach. And he and I were coaches at UCLA prior to our relationship here at Washington. He does a great job with the running backs he not only is a good motivator but he is a great teacher and it is obvious that he is doing a great job again with USC backs. And as they mature within a new scheme a new offense they will become as prolific as ever. I think the other thing Wayne did for us here is he was an alum and he has a great relationship with the former Washington Husky players and made them feel very welcome. You can't ever underestimate the value of that. '

On Norm Chow: 'I think they are probably a lot like us offensively. And that while our problem is injured players their situation is a new scheme and that takes awhile to develop. It just takes awhile, you have to be patient. And I know that Pete Carroll, given all his experience and his wisdom will do that. As I said they are going to have a break out game and hopefully it's not this weekend.'

On come from behind wins: 'I think number one is the belief that things will happen and that's not unique to our program. I think every coach in the country teaches that. Tries to get the team to believe that things are going to go well and we are going to find a way and not to get down. Number two you have to have some success in the fourth quarter and fortunately we have had some and so there is a confidence factor hat goes with that. You've seen it happen before so you expect it to happen again. We talk all the time about wanting to make a big play in the fourth quarter not waiting for someone else to make a big play expecting yourself to make it . When I first arrived there was a big emphasis on just turning the fourth quarter around. In 1998 we had not had success in the fourth quarter. SO as a way of how we were going to get competitive again in the PAC 10 Conference and find a way to try to compete for the Championship was if we could just reverse the numbers in the fourth quarter in 1999. We did a good job in 1999 in the fourth quarter so we improved on 98 and were in the PAC 10 race we had a chance, we didn't get it down but were in the hunt. And then obviously last year we had a tremendous fourth quarter effort, and hopefully can continue that, and have that become something the players and coaches can find pride in.'

On Conditioning: 'Well certainly we're fresh enough to be making the plays you wonder if we are saving ourselves because of our performance in this last week's first quarter. The point of the matter is that conditioning is always going to have some component in that. We've got to be a little more urgent about our preparation and our start of football games. '

On Carson Palmer: 'As a good as a high school quarterback that I have ever seen. Very accomplished, very poised , big arm, great mobility, great ball speed. I mean really had all you look for. He was in our camp in Colorado and I was even more impressed having been around personally. So I know what he is capable of.'

On first three games: 'I think the thing that pleases me most about our first three games is that somehow, someway we have inherited this find-a-way attitude and a willingness to keep fighting even though the odds look long. That is easier said than done, and we have done it. We have come from behind against Michigan, we've come from behind against California and found ways to win games. That is a good thing to build upon. Another thing that pleased me about this particular victory was there was no pointing fingers at half time, there was no defense angry at the offense or offense angry at the defense. Two years in 1999 we had a little of that. At the same venue against Cal and we tried to nip it in the bud at half time. I remember that being the pivotal game in that season, maybe the pivotal game of that season. Because we had lost the week before to Arizona State and we were 3 and 3 in the season we were down in Cal and down 14 points in the third quarter and we found a way to come back and win the game and erase what had been a little back-biting at halftime. And since that time that has dissipated so that I am very proud that our team has trusted each other knows that everyone has given their best. Now we have to develop some maturity of preparation. With a very young team and inexperienced guys, week to week there has to be a great urgency to prepare and to take each and every week very precious. And hopefully we learned a very valuable lesson of that this last weekend. '

On leadership: ' I think we have a great group of leaders on this team. I'm not sure that they understand that leading isn't just leading by example on the field that they have to take some of these younger guys, the guys that made their first road trip, I think somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-25 guys made their first road trip to Cal, I haven't counted it out yet , it was their first time on the road with our football team. We've got to take those guys under our wing and give them study sessions if you will. Some guys are really chomping at the bit to play because we were not ready, and I have to take responsibilty for that. It's clear that that's my job and I want to fix that immediately.

On sensing that: 'It would be impossible to say that I sensed that. I watched our kids warm up and they looked a little fatigued. Whether it be the heat or whether it be the first time we played on grass, whether it be the first road trip. I don't know. It just looked like we were a little step slow. I am going through all of that in my mind to try to make sure we don't repeat that.'

On preparation: ' I point to the week. If you have a great week of preparation it is unlikely you will fire a blank on Saturday. If your tempo in practice isn't what you're hoping for on game day then you're running the risk that you're going to be less than your best on game day. We had some injuries a week ago, pivotal players didn't practice because of injuries and the tempo of the practice slows down because of their absence. So it is imperative for us even if we have to have some front guys not participate that the tempo stay where it needs to be. So then we have to trust as coaches some of the guys that are in back up roles to go in and play and play well. We've got to be willing to do that.'

On Willie Hurst: ' That is our hope. The training room seems to think that will be possible and that will be the way it will go.'

On Cal: 'Give credit where credit is due. Cal came out and executed flawlessly in their first two or three drives. It really was a sensational performance by them. They came out and got us with a couple of short passes and kept moving the chains. The first down was the biggest deal. They were able to average to six to 10 yards on first down. And anytime when you are second and short you are ahead of the down and distance game you can put the defense on its heals because you've got extra downs to deal with. So when we finally got it sorted out and made our checks to some of their formationing that they sprung on us I thought we did a nice job of getting in there and tackling, keeping things down to a minimum and putting them in a second and long situation which then puts the down in our favor. Two years Joe Igber ran for 150 yards maybe even more than that , last year he again had a big day and this time we held him to just about two yards a carry. I think that was indicative of the intensity that grew from our defense, we didn't start that way. And so we have to figure out why and make sure everybody in our program understands that we are a PAC 10 team. We can't allow one to slip away , if we get beat we get beat, but we can't allow one to slip away because of lack of intensity.'

On tackles in the red zone: ' I think we are getting better in the red zone, I am more worried about the black zone. The black zone being inside the 10 yard line. Our throwing game down there has been minimal, I don't think we have hit a pass down there. And sometimes we get the ball, first and goal at the seven, eight, nine, it is hard to take three plays and bang it in there when no one had to back up, there is extra guys in the box because of the geography of the situation. You've got to have the ability to create some throwing games down and we have not been efficient there. That is going to be a focus.'

On improvements: ' There is all kinds of areas we have to get better at. Offensive line communication has to improve, defensive line our stunts has to improve so that we can get some more pressure on the quarterback. We have to do a better job of playing man to man coverage on the corner so that we don't give up easy 12-13 yard gains. There's lots of things. Kick off coverage was poor. This particular week it has been kind of a strength, gave up too many long runs and field position. John Anderson on a kangaroo kick, kicked it too far one time. And so we gave up a big play there. When the talent level is so close as it is in our league the game of field position has got to be pivotal. So we have to be make sure we address those opportunities to affect the field position with great urgency.'

On USC: 'You talk about the major powers in college football and USC is always in the conversation. I know they are disappointed that the last couple of years they haven't been in that mix. But I guarantee you if you study recruiting like I study recruiting they have all the tools that they need to be a power and a power as early as this Saturday. So I am very leery of the contest and yet I am more focused on our team. I want our team to take a big step this week and improving and learning on to prepare for a big time opponent.'

On field goal: ' From my vantage point on the sideline it was more of the snap. And we are going to address that this week. Elliot Zajac has been our snapper, he's been very reliable but this is the first time he's had to snap and play every snap on offense. We are going to see if that is an issue. Elliot said there was some people pawing at the ball and so forth, I'm not positive that was the case, I know it was a hot day and they have just been fatigued. Cody and John have to trust one another and we've got to get it through he uprights. That could have been disastrous.'

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