Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 29, 2001

General Remarks: 'We are excited that we are in the race. Every year the goal for our program is to be in the hunt come November. We certainly find ourselves in that situation now and we are going to find out a great deal more about where we are at the conclusion of Saturday's contest with Stanford. Stanford is one of the hottest teams in the country, let alone our conference, given their last two weeks and the victories over top-five opponents with UCLA and Oregon. They snapped Oregon's home winning streak, which is no easy task, and then to beat what we found out to be a very good UCLA team as handily they did, I thought Stanford played really well. We have our hands full and we understand that. Hopefully our home crowd will be a factor in the game, although it didn't seem as though Stanford was at all bothered by the Oregon crowd. We have a huge task at hand, but we are looking forward to it. This is what we try to accomplish every season, to be in the kind of position to play these kinds of games in the stretch drive. Hopefully we can play our best game on Saturday because I am sure we'll have to in order to be successful.'

On Pac-10 Race: 'You don't have to look back very long to realize that this conference is nip and tuck all the time. A year ago it wasn't five but three teams that had one loss and Oregon was undefeated up until the very end. It is a conference where you have to bring your best every week if you are expecting to be successful. I think Oregon State a year ago was playing the best football at the end of the year. We played pretty good football in the month of November. We played a really good game against UCLA and a really good game against Washington State to close it out. Our Arizona game wasn't particulary a great game to start the month but we played a pretty darn good second half. Again we were coming off a very emotional and catastrophic injury to Curtis Williams in the Stanford game and it was difficult to bounce back and play with everything we had given the surrounding circumstances. You have got to play your best down the stretch.That's what's so frightening about Stanford, they are playing their best football right now. That makes them very tough to beat.'

On Success in Close Games: 'The better question to ask is why are we mediocre in the first three quarters? The point is the games are going to be close. The talent in this conference is unlike any other in any other conference. The western United States has a lot of great football players. I don't mean to snub the other conferences in this part of the country, but there's only one that's guaranteed a BCS berth. The conference schools all do a good job of getting talent. So you play against good players every week, you play against people that can make plays and can change the balance of that particular game's momentum with one play. When that's the case you are going to be in a lot of close games. I think because we have been in so many games we are used to it and I do think there is a certain amount of and resilency in our program that expects that kind of thing to happen. It is hard to win games but we seem to keep finding ways and hopefully our quest to continue to do so will help us win games. Other than that, the games are always going to be close. We just hope to have one more point than our opponent.'

On Fourth Quarter Play: 'We are going to play all the way until they tell us to leave the stadium. We have a fine coaching staff that manages the clock very well and keeps track of where we are. I am blessed to have so many quality assistants that do a good job of not losing their patience and coach all the way to the final gun.'

On Stanford's Offensive Line: 'We played Arizona State last week and they have a quality offensive line and Stanford is right there. Stanford is improving and if you look at the time of possession in our league, they're leading it by a wide margin. They are averaging 34 minutes per game and the ability to do that and wear down an opponent is a very effective weapon. Two years ago, we led the conference in time of possession. We weren't as explosive as Stanford is right now, but it is a way to play. Coach Willingham has done a great job in implementing that style. We watched the USC game in preparation for our own USC game and Stanford got ball back with five minutes left and USC never saw the ball again. That was a very impressive drive. '

On the UW tailbacks: 'In the early portion of the game you give each guy a series and get them both acclimated to the competiton and you make a decision of who's hot. In this last game it was Willie Hurst and he had a great game for us. We are going to need Willie to have another big game this weekend, as well as Rich Alexis. Both scored touchdowns against Stanford a year ago and we are hopeful that we can get them both playing their best football. We all are going to have to play our best football to find a way to gain a victory against this fine Stanford team.'

On Joe Paterno: 'Joe Paterno is one of my heroes. I have gottten to know him personally via some Nike trips and so forth. He is as wonderful a guy as you could ever imagine. He is terrific to talk to, and is very disarming. He doesn't make you feel that you are talking to the deity himself. He is a really impressive coach, and more importantly than that he is an impressive person.'

On Stanford's defense: 'They are a very well-coached group with a lot of experience in their 11 seniors. It is a very well choreographed defensive unit that looks to stop you running the ball, force you to beat them by throwing, and then makes plays on the ball. There isn't a more opportunistic defense in the country. The ball gets tipped and seemingly finds its way into a Stanford defender's hands. They have made lots of plays. You can look at them and think you have a physical matchup that you like, that pretty soon it isn't nearly what you thought. It is going to take a great effort on our part to move the ball effectively against them .'

On Cody Pickett: 'We are really excited about Cody. We think Cody has got all the things that you look for in a quarterback. He's made lots of plays that are reminiscent of Marques [Tuiasosopo]. In this last game we had a third and 10 in the opening portion of that final drive and he pulls a Houdini act and gets himself a first down. On third down and two he pulled a real Tuiasosopo by jumping over someone on an option and pitching to a guy and having us all gasping for air on the sidelines. It was vintage Marques-type play. Cody has kind of evolved into that. His shoulder injury has almost benefited him with respect to his leadership skills. The team will walk down any alley with Cody because of the way he's fighting to participate and fighting to be in the game even though he is in obvious discomfort. It's kind of a neat thing to watch unfold. Fortunately he's able to pull it off and make all kinds of big plays. We are going to need him in a big way this weekend.'

On Cody's leadership: 'I always felt he had it even when he first got here. He kind of had a little bit of a swagger when he got out to the game. It is difficult to express that to his teammates when it's not 'your' team. It is somebody else's team with the respect to the quarterback position. He was not very demonstrative in showing those traits. You can see him growing into that role and the players are willing to follow.'

On Stanford's success: 'Stanford is peaking, when they have beaten two straight top-five teams and two very good teams. They are hot ticket coming in here.'

On falling off the fourth quarter tight rope: 'I don't think there's any question that that's always a possibility but we can't sit around and worry about it. We are too busy fighting, scratching, clawing, trying to get back into the game and finding a way to win. We don't have time to worry about what might be at the conclusion of the game. There is lots of time after the ballgame to figure out what you could have done differently. You don't worry about that during the course of the game.'

On running the ball: 'I felt we ran the ball pretty effectively and I don't think we were given credit for 200 yards rushing. They called the Rich Alexis pitch a pass. I thought it was a tremendous effort by our front. Our kids are improving given that four guys have never played. We are growing, we are trying to improve. The key to this race down the stretch is who plays the best down that stretch. We have as good of chance to play our best as anybody and hopefully we can do that.'

On Jerramy Stevens: 'He is able to do all the running he can do this week, but the likehood is that he will not particpate this weekend. It is our hope he will come back against Oregon State.'

On Washington's defense: 'We felt we played a pretty darned talented offense last week in Arizona State. We did a nice job against their running attack. There were a couple of formations that surprised us, like when they put Pace in as the quarterback. Other than that we did a nice job against the run. We did a really good job tackling, and we're going to need to do that again this weekend. This is a ball control offense that also has big play capability and so we are going to have to do a good job containing those two fine backs, Carter and Allen.'

On differences in Stanford's quarterbacks: 'They are both very talented and have proven that they can win. You always think you might have a little advantage playing the second-team quarterback but all he's done is thrown for 70 percent and it isn't as though he was intimidated by a home crowd. We are going to have to play a great football game. '

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