Erickson Meets The Press
Oct. 1, 2002
(On UCLA) 'They're a football team that is very, very talented - they always are. They're very phsyical; they're probably the most physical team we've faced all year. You look at them defensively, and they're very big inside. Rodney Leisle is probably as good a defensive tackle as you'll face all year - he was last year. Marcus Reese is an athletic linebacker. And their secondary is playing really well; Ricky Manning, to me, is one of the best corners in the country and has great cover skills. He'll hit you; they do a lot of different things with him as far as putting him in a position where he'll man-up and they'll do some other things to the other side of the offense. They're very, very talented. They're similar to the way they were last year.
'Offensively, they've got basically their whole offensive front back from a year ago. They're a very physical team. (Quarterback) Cory Paus is playing very well, making a lot of plays. Tab Perry and Craig Bragg, their wide receivers, are very talented - they've got good speed and good size. Their running backs, Akil Harris and Manuel White, are both playing real well. They're a football team that had a temporary setback and came back last week against San Diego State and dominated the football game; they dominated the game against Oklahoma State. This is their first Pac-10 game, and their goals are like everybody else in this league - to win the Pac-10 championship - and I'm sure they'll come in here and play to the best of their ability, and that's what we've got to do.'
(How as OSU reacted to its loss at Southern California?) 'I haven't seen them since Sunday; we give them Monday off. It was a very emotional loss. When we came in Sunday and looked at the film, it wasn't a picnic, by any means. We went down there and we didn't play very well; I thought we did play well defensively and did some darn good things defensively. But when you perform like that offensively, you're not going to win very many games, particularly on the road. We had some opportunities early and didn't take advantage of them, and the game turned out the way it did. But all these things are correctable. It's only one loss, and we're 4-1; we've got a lot of games left. The bottom line is, we've got to look at the mistakes we made and try to correct them, and get ready for this football game. I've been in this business a long time; I've been in situations like this way too many times in my life, I'm afraid, but I think every coach has. You look around the country, and there aren't very many teams who haven't been in this situation already. Good football teams rally back, and I believe we're a good football team and we'll rally back.'
(On UCLA quarterback Cory Paus) 'Cory has great experience. He's been playing for a long time, he's a very accurate passer. He understands what's going on; he know coach (Bob) Toledo's offense. He makes the throws he needs to, he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, he's matured a lot over the last couple years and he's playing really well. He's kind of the leader of that offense and he makes things happen.'
(On injuries to Brian Kilkenny and Lee Davis at offensive left tackle for OSU) 'Lee Davis may not be out for the year, but he'll be out for at least a month, anyway. What we've got to do right now is take Mike Kuykendall and move him (from left guard) to left tackle; he played both tackles as a freshman, redshirt freshman and sophomore. Our next guy that we think has played well when he's had a chance is David Lose, so we'll move him into guard and move Mike out to left tackle, and Jake Pratt will back him up there. Matt Davis will have to back up both guard spots. That's the situation we're in right now. Those things happen; that's part of the game. You've just got to rally to it and find out what we've got to do to get better. We've got to make some changes; our players will rally. A guy gets hurt; you've got to bring in somebody to play. That's all you can do.'
(Is this a critical week for OSU?) 'Yeah, it's critical. I hate to say one week is critical to a whole season - I mean, that's kind of ridiculous to say because it's not necessarily true all the time. But I expect our players to bounce back. This team has good chemistry and has good character, regardless, and I know they'll react to it. Again, when everything is going well it's easy to be positive and it's easy for things to go well in that locker room; when you lose a game, that's when it's a test. And the test isn't necessarily winning or losing, it's do you bounce back and play hard and make the adjustments that are needed to make. And if you do that, you have a chance to win. I expect this team to bounce back. It's not any different team than it was a week ago when I was sitting up here.'
(On OSU quarterback Derek Anderson) 'Derek was like everyone else on offense (at USC) - if you look at the offensive video and evaluate it, it wasn't just Derek, it wasn't just one thing. You get pressure, you don't run the route correctly, you don't run it the right distance, you hold the football, you make the bad throw - all those different things constitute what happened in that football game. Early in the football game, we have a couple of plays that could have been made that would have made that thing a little different ballgame. When you're on the road, whether you're ahead or behind makes a difference. In this league, that's how it's going to be; I've said that time and time again, that nobody's going to go through this league undefeated. If they do, God bless 'em - and I'm not sure you can't win it with two losses; that's just how this league is this year. The easy thing to do is panic - 'Oh, man, we went down and got beat' - but this is still a good football team and we're not in any panic mode. We just have to make some corrections and go play the next football game, because we've got eight of 'em or six or whatever we've got left. Derek didn't play his best game, there's no question about it. But I'll guarantee you, he wasn't the Lone Ranger - there were a lot of people who didn't play their best game.'
(On OSU's dropped passes at USC) 'I don't know that it was pressing, but we dropped some balls. In our offense, timing of things is so important that when you take a drop, and you expect somebody to make a break at a certain distance, and he's not making that break at that distance, and you end up holding the ball - the timing of it; that happened to us. We dropped a ball or two. When you best players aren't making plays all the time in a particular game, it creates problems and that's what happened. It happens all over, and it happened to us Saturday. We can't sit around and feel sorry for ourselves; we've got to make adjustments and get going.'
(On offensive tackle Lee Davis' MRI results) 'He had an MCL sprain; a little bit of a torn, partially-torn ACL. He's got a chance to come back. We've got to wait about three weeks to see what happens as far as it tightening up and so forth, but there's a chance that he'll be back. It's not totally torn like we thought it might be right afterward, so the news we got is better than what we thought after the game. He won't have surgery for a month, if at all. They've just got to look and see what happens.'
(On OSU defensive tackles Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards) 'They're the key to our defense, our tackles are. How they play frees linebackers up, frees everything up in our defensive scheme. Dwan and Eric played very well Saturday, they had good games. They've been pretty steady the whole season. As long as they continue to be steady and play like they are, we've got a chance to continue to be good on defense.'
(How do you find out about a player like Dwan, coming from Columbus, Mont.?) 'I've been to Columbus many times. I knew the coach there. Sometimes when you go to a place like that, you've got to do it by ear because it's not a normal stop on the recruiting trail.'
(On OSU playing on artificial turf as opposed to natural grass) 'I've been asked that a few times this week. We spend more time on grass than we do on turf; we practice every day on grass and spend hardly any time on turf until we play the game, or the day before. Obviously, turf is a little quicker. Our team speed on defense showed up on grass, too. I don't know if you're asking me if that's a factor, but it really isn't.'