Coach Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes
Nov. 11, 2002
General Comments: 'We are looking forward to our game with Oregon. As you know, we did not get to play the Ducks a year ago. I know that is a game that is anticipated for each and every year. Having a year off makes this one all that more exciting. It will be the second time in a row that we have been to Eugene. It is always a formidable place to play, but thankfully we are coming off a victory. Hopefully we can use that in some form of momentum in playing a very good game against a very good team at Eugene. I am looking forward to going down there and competing. I know there is going to be a lot said because of the rivalry, because of the feelings that exist between the two programs. Ultimately it gets down to two football teams that are going to go out there and fight in an honorable way and hopefully create a great game for the fans to enjoy and hopefully the best team wins.'
On the factors of noise and field position gain at Eugene: 'It doesn't sound like we are going to be able to do much about the noise. That is part of the environment there. It makes it difficult for your offense, but it will come as no surprise. In respect to field position, we have to do a better job of impacting it in a positive way. We really stressed that last week in doing a much better job in field position. Fortunately we won the turnover battle and that had a direct impact on the final score. All facets of our game, offense, defense, special teams, have to be ready to impact field position in a positive way. Two years ago they did a great job of punting. They got us down inside out ten-yard line a number of occasions. We were unable to generate offense to get ourselves out. We kind of rallied at the end, but we fell short. It turned out they were two pretty good football teams playing that day. They each ended up winning ten or more games. I think they ended up 10-2 and beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl. We went on to win the Rose Bowl. We're not quite at that caliber this year in terms of the programs, but I guarantee it will be a hard-fought game.'
On Derrick Johnson receiving Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week: 'I'm excited for Derrick. Derrick has fought his way back from a career threatening injury when he hurt his foot and had to have surgery and was out for a full season and full year. He obviously needed to acclimate himself as he came back and get back into feeling comfortable. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. He certainly is a great kid and I am excited for him to have more and more success as we continue to go forward. He is only a sophomore, so hopefully he will have a productive career.'
On the rivalry between Washington and Oregon: 'Heading into the last three weeks of the season, we set goals for ourselves. Obviously our goal is to be reorganized given that we were going to fall short of our beginning season goals. The Northwest championship is one of those goals. We got off to a good start with the victory over Oregon State. There are still two opponents to go and this week we have to focus all of our attention on Oregon. We understand it is going to be a hostile environment. I mean that sincerely when I say they are great fans. They love their Ducks. We've got to go in a play a great game.'
On Oregon quarterback Jason Fife: 'I'm impressed with Jason Fife. I agree with Coach Bellotti in that he had big shoes to fill, much like Cody Pickett a year ago when he had to step in for Marques. I think he has done an admirable job in stepping in and doing some good things. He has had some success and I think they feel very strongly about how they are playing at that position.'
On Cody Pickett earning the all-time passing mark at Washington: 'I think Cody would trade all those numbers for more wins. We're really focusing on that. Maybe sometime down the future we'll have some time to reflect on that. But right now we are just trying to do everything we can to seek out victories.'
On the noise level at Autzen Stadium on game day: 'The day we played there they had those thunder sticks and I am sure they will be there this week. It sounded like a helicopter taking off. It was difficult. But now that we know what to anticipate, I think we will be better prepared. You always hope that. You have to wait and see how it turns out. We had seen the film of the game against UCLA the week before. You could see that UCLA was struggling to hear. We felt like we had prepared in a way in taking the noise into account. The noise was such that we couldn't even communicate between the press box and sidelines. That is a tremendous home field advantage. We just have to do a great job of being comfortable in that environment. We aren't going to change that environment, we have to be comfortable in it. We have to be able to work effectively. But you look at the tape, Fresno State was in position to have a victory, they played well there. Arizona State had a great second half and found a way to win and USC played well there. Maybe they weren't as excited about played them as they were about playing Washington. But I as I said, they are great fans. I think they show up each and every week. One of the things is we have an indoor facility where we can turn on some loud noise. We didn't have that two years ago and hopefully that will prove to be some benefit.'
On how has Dan Dicks proven himself this year: 'Danny has been a very valuable player for us. He was not penciled in a starter when the season began, but because of injuries had to play a lot and for the most part, has played pretty effectively. He is a try-hard guy who came in highly recruited and has worked himself into being a Pac-10 offensive lineman. This only being his sophomore year, I think there is still a lot of upside for him. He responds. There have been times when technique wise he could have done better. But the bottom line is he is in there trying, he is in there fighting and for the most part he has played pretty darn well. Remember he was our center in spring ball because Todd Bachert wasn't available. He's a pretty valuable player in terms of being able to play strong guard, weak guard and center.'
On using trash talking as motivation for the upcoming game: 'I guess young players get excited about stuff like that. My experience with that is that it is very overrated. It comes down to blocking and tackling and making plays. Hopefully given where we are as a program and given the chance we have this weekend, that will be enough for us to go out and play our very best. If a player's comments can help bring about that kind of spirit, then I guess that is okay. I think there is plenty of motivation without any of the talk to be able to play your best.'
On goals and singling out Oregon as a more important Northwest rivalry: 'It's the most important game this week. They certainly are a propaganda machine with respect to they promote. They've got billboards in New York City, they've got billboards in Los Angeles. They seemingly have an endless budget to do so and more power to them. Until the rules change, who is to keep them from doing it? The bottom line is, they've been promoting themselves and building their program and if you look at the success they've enjoyed the last couple years, you've got to say that it's worked. Ultimately how we get back to being the team in the conference is that we have to play better and we have to go about doing our job on the field especially in head-to-head competition. I've been here four years and we are one and one with them. We won when we were at home and they won when they were at home. Both programs have been very successful over those three years.'
On acknowledging that Washington isn't the best team in the conference: 'We're not in first place right now. There are a number of things we can point to in the program if we start to look back. If you're looking at what is going on right now for the Huskies, you can get a little blinded what has happened here and what is going to happen here. It's up to us, who are the caretakers of the program, to build that positive picture and show exactly what s going to happen. We haven't had the best of seasons, but we are coming off a very big win for us and are looking forward to rebuilding on that and getting another victory against another Northwest opponent. There is no one in the league who can top the success that we've enjoyed if we go back ten, 20, 30 years.'
On how he evaluates Washington's run-defense: 'I thought that our run-defense did some things well on Saturday. We did give up some yards. We were able to keep the field position in check when they had to go long distance s to get their yards. We've to do to do a better job on first down runs. If we can do that, then we can put more pressure on other facets of their offense. Onterrio Smith (of Oregon) is the best back in the conference. I think Steven Jackson (of Oregon State) will have a great career .'
On Oregon's running back, Onterrio Smith, having an advantage because Washington did not play Oregon last year: 'I don't see that as an advantage. We've seen a lot of tape on him. Eventually you have to tackle him, that is what it comes down to.'
On the attitude of the Huskies at practice this week: 'Everybody feels better. I said this at the post-game press conference that you play this game to win. When you invest of yourself like players and coaches do every week to create an opportunity to play your best and you come away with a victory, you feel better about what was put in and you have a little bit better disposition in anticipation of next week's goal and work. We're excited about the victory, but that doesn't mean we are going to work any less hard. We've got a huge hurdle in front of us and we've got to figure out a way to get over it.'
On preparing for a road game after two games at home: 'We haven't played well on the road. It's obvious we struggled at Arizona State. It was probably our worst game of the year. We got beat by a very good USC team. We've got to figure out how to go in and play well in the start of a game on the road. Even Michigan, where we probably should have won the game, we were down 14-0. We've got to start out strong and play good football at the beginning of the ball game. That takes away a lot of the crowds edge, but we are not going to take away the crowds noise this weekend.'
On how he would characterize his relationship with Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti: 'You have to understand in this business, it's difficult to be buddy-buddy with guys because we re all wanting to be the best in our conference. I have a healthy respect for him. I have a healthy respect for what Oregon has done to build their program. The bottom line is, he's doing his job, I'm doing mine. Right now we are professional and I've got nothing but respect for him.'