Spring Football Question and Answer with Head Coach Dennis Erickson
March 18, 2002
Corvallis, Ore. -
DENNIS ERICKSON, OREGON STATE HEAD COACH, HAD THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ON BEAVER FOOTBALL PRIOR TO THE START OF SPRING PRACTICE.
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS SPRING? 'Going into the spring we want to continue to improve offensively and defensively. We will have a new quarterback, so that will be critical for us at this time. During the spring someone needs to emerge at quarterback, whether it is Derek Anderson or Shayne House or someone else. Having a quarterback emerge is going to be a very important part of spring football. Improvement of our offense in general is going to be important. We have a couple of new offensive linemen who must step in, and that aspect of our offense must be settled in the spring. Improvement by our wide receivers and tight ends will also be important this spring. Defensively we are fortunate that we have a lot of players coming back, but again, we need to develop some depth in our defensive front. Our linebacking corps is mostly a veteran group, but we need some young linebackers to step up to become the third starter and to be backups. We have our starting corners coming back in the secondary, but we need to develop some depth at corner. We need to fill our strong safety position and that will be a real key this spring.'
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS/QUESTIONS AS YOU HEAD INTO SPRING DRILLS? 'Any time you go into the spring with a new quarterback it is a concern. Any time you don't have a veteran quarterback coming back like we have had the past two years it is a big concern. How Derek Anderson improves is a real key. Overall, I feel pretty good about our offense. We need to develop some depth at center, guard and at one tackle position on our offensive line. How we come together as an entire defense will be a priority. Basically, we only need to plug in a new safety and linebacker because everyone else is pretty much coming back.'
QUESTION: WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE STRENGTH LIES WITH THIS TEAM AS YOU HEAD INTO SPRING DRILLS? 'Our strength on defense is our tackles. Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards are returning as starters and we have some depth. With Richard Seigler and Nick Barnett we have a pair of linebackers who have played a lot. Our corners, Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts, have to be as good as anyone in our league as we head into spring practice. I like the looks of our secondary. Offensively we have all of our receivers returning. Last year this might have been an area with a little bit of weakness, but now it has become a strength for us because we have some depth coming back. Our tight ends are all back and that is strength. Our guard situation is very good with Kanan Sanchez and Mike Kuykendall returning. Steven Jackson had a good year for us as a freshman tailback. Now we need to develop some depth at running back.'
QUESTION: WHERE WOULD YOU ANTICIPATE YOUR BIGGEST POSITION BATTLES THIS SPRING? 'There are going to be some battles. The top battle could be at right tackle on offense with Doug Nienhuis and Isaac Aronson, a transfer form Cal State Northridge. There will be battles at all of our wide receiver positions. James Newson is coming off a great year and if he continues to improve that will be a big plus. Cole Clasen and Kenny Farley will battle at the slot position and Shawn Kintner, George Gillett and Josh Hawkins should have interesting competition at split end. We should have an interesting battle at kicker with Ryan Cesca and Kirk Yliniemi. We haven't had competition in the spring before at kicker, so it should be interesting to see who winds up as our kicker. On defense, the battle at strong safety will be a real key with Lawrence Turner, Shamon Jamerson and Brandon Catenese battling for that position. There will be a battle for the other outside linebacker spot. We have Erik Tuma coming back, but we also have Seth Lacey, Chaz Scott and Jason Jacobs competing for that spot. I also believe there will be some battles at defensive end with the depth we have at that position.'
QUESTION: WILL YOU HAVE ANY POSITION SWITCHES FROM LAST YEAR AS YOU START SPRING DRILLS? 'Not really. Right now we are pretty well set with where we were when the season ended. We have moved some receivers from outside to inside and inside to outside, but other than that, we haven't made many moves.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT HOW THE QUARTERBACK PICTURE WILL PLAY OUT THIS SPRING? 'Derek Anderson has the opportunity to be the starter. He had a good fall and really improved. Shayne House will push him, but a lot will depend on how Shayne's shoulder responds. His shoulder has obviously been a problem for the past two years. Now we need to find out who else will be in the mix, whether it is Adam Rothenfluh or Ryan Kanekeberg.'
QUESTION: YOU HAVE TALKED BEFORE ABOUT EACH TEAM HAVING ITS OWN PERSONALITY. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU CAN FIND OUT DURING SPRING DRILLS? 'You can find out a lot during the spring. With the strength and depth that we have coming back on defense, that will be a big personality of our football team. We have a lot of guys coming back who played very, very well on defense last year. Offensively I don't know that we will know what our personality is going to be until we end spring practice and see how Derek comes along, and how our offensive front responds. I do believe that Steven Jackson probably is as good a running back as we have had in a long time. He compares favorably with Ken Simonton. Who knows, maybe our running game will be our strength. We will just have to wait and see how everything develops this spring.'
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 2002 SEASON? 'It is hard to say until we conclude spring football. Our expectations every year at Oregon State University is to compete for the conference championship and go to a bowl game and that will never change.'
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OFFENSIVE UNIT OVERALL HEADING INTO SPRING? 'First of all, we need to find out where we are at quarterback. There are a couple of spots to fill on the offensive front, but other than that, we have some experience coming back. We just need to see how we develop this spring and that will give us a better idea of where we are at offensively.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR RUNNING BACKS. 'Steven Jackson played a lot last year. He is big and strong and really adds a lot to our offense. I believe Dwight Wright has a great chance to be an outstanding player. It is his time to step up this spring. We are moving Cory Williams from wide receiver to see what he can do at running back. It will be interesting to see how Ryan Cole, who is coming in as a freshman, fits in this fall. Josh Farrell (knee surgery) will not be involved with spring football, but he will be ready this fall. We do have some depth and we have some good players at running back.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR RECEIVERS AS A GROUP. 'Our receivers as a group have really improved over a year ago. Obviously the experience they got as young players makes a difference. They are all bigger, faster and stronger. I think James Newson at the end of the season might have been as good as anyone in our league at wide receiver. He has had a great winter. As I said earlier, what may have been little bit of weakness because of inexperience last year now becomes strength for us.'
QUESTION: YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE? 'We have starters returning and we have some others who have played. Matt Brock at center has played and he will be replacing Chris Gibson. We need to see what happens at right tackle. I like this group. It is a group that is very athletic and we have some depth.'
QUESTION: OREGON STATE'S DEFENSE HAS BEEN VERY STRONG FOR THREE YEARS IN A ROW. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DEFENSIVE UNIT OVERALL AS WE HEAD INTO SPRING? 'If everyone does what they are suppose to do, and I think they have in the off season, this group should take off from where they finished last year. With our defensive scheme you start at the corners. If you have corners that can come up and play man coverage and do those types of things then we have a chance to be real good on defense. We have those types of corners in Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts. Once again, I refer back to our defensive tackles. We have two guys (Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards) who have played a lot. We have a lot of depth and a lot of experience coming back on defense, and that makes a big difference.'
QUESTION: IS THE DEFENSIVE LINE ONE OF STRENGTHS ON THIS FOOTBALL TEAM? 'Our defensive front four is without any question one of our strengths because we have some depth, maybe not as much at tackle as we do at end. If we can stay healthy it is a real strength for us.'
QUESTION: YOUR THOUGHTS ON LINEBACKERS? 'We have two guys that played all last year in Richard Seigler and Nick Barnett. We need to find a third starting linebacker. Between Erik Tuma, Seth Lacey, Chaz Scott and Jason Jacobs, someone must step up and be the guy. With Richard and Nick coming back this is a real positive area for us.'
QUESTION: YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SECONDARY? 'We have solid starters returning at corner in Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts. Mitch Meeuwsen returns at one safety and we must find out who the other safety will be this spring. We have Lawrence Turner, Shamon Jamerson and Brandon Catenese battling for the third spot. I believe this will be a very solid group.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR KICKERS/PUNTERS. 'Carl Tobey is the No. 1 punter right now but we need to take a good look at Ryan Cozzetto who is a punter we brought in last year. Ryan had a bad leg (knee surgery following his senior prep season) last year and was unable to compete for the punting job. We will let them compete this spring and see what happens. Ryan Cesca and Kirk Yliniemi will compete to be the kicker.'
QUESTION: WHAT IMPACT DO YOU EXPECT FROM JUNIOR COLLEGE TRANSFERS? 'The junior college transfers hopefully can come in and help us. Isaac Aronson is a transfer from Cal State Northridge and has a chance to come in and play. Brent Bridges is an offensive lineman who can give us some help. I really believe at the safety position, Lawrence Turner and Brandon Catenese are two guys who must make a big difference for us this spring. We have three players coming in this fall in Brandon Lockheart (offensive tackle), Harvey Whiten (safety) and Deondre Alexander (wide receiver) who I believe will help us this year.'
QUESTION: THOUGHTS ON THIS YEAR'S RECRUITNG CLASS, AND IS THERE A CHANCE ANY FRESHMEN WILL PLAY THIS FALL? 'It was a good class, a strong class. It was a little different than last year because of the positions that we recruited. It is a very athletic class that can run real fast. Our defensive linemen and secondary players will be a real strength from this class. We were able to get an outstanding running back (Ryan Cole), receiver (James Finley) and tight end (Joe Newton) in this class. I like the class but we will have to see how they develop when they get here. It is hard to say if any freshman will play in the fall. I don't know if you will see near as many freshmen play as you did last year, and you may not see any of them play. '