Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 18, 2002

General Comments: 'It's Apple Cup time, which means it's a big game and we are looking forward to it.'

On Kai Ellis this season: 'Kai has actually stayed pretty healthy this year, which is fortunate for us because at the beginning of the season there was a lot of concern as to whether or not he would be able to go at all this season. He is a great team player. I know he would have liked to play linebacker in his career, but given our depth at the REB linebacker, especially when he first arrived, it was just a prudent thing for him to play there. I hope he is going to get a chance at the next level because I think he can play. Hopefully, he has a great game left in him.'

On how Kai Ellis was kept involved with the team during the injuries of his junior year: 'He wanted to be involved, so it wasn't a real chore to ask him to continue to be part of everything. He wanted desperately to be in the game. He is just that kind of person.'

On how he gets the team to stay focused on the upcoming game: 'We're 6-5. I think we've realized what happens when we don't play well. The bottom line is, we have to go play a great game. They (Washington State) are No. 3 in the country.'

On the team's postgame celebration at Oregon: 'First of all, we're not the first team to celebrate a victory. I think that is something that kind of goes with the territory. I don't understand all the commotion about a celebration after a win, especially when it is in a rivalry game. Secondly, when you've struggled and you've had to dig deep to become a better football team, certainly to see the fruits of your labor pay off, or to enjoy the fruits of your labor, isn't an abnormal thing either. We've got lots of work to do this week, though, and hopefully we will be up to the task.'

On Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser: 'He is a good player.'

On Derrick Johnson and his performance towards the end of the season: 'He's gotten healthy. I've always thought he was a good player. He is obviously playing better.'

On how he would describe the Apple Cup rivalry to someone who has never experienced it before: 'It's a big game. You work to play the best, and I know that is what is happening in Pullman. We are certainly going to do our part to do our best, too.'

On the emotions that are behind the Northwest rivalries: 'When you are in the situation we find ourselves in, you don't have a choice. Emotionally, I think there is a lot left and we're going to have to muster up everything we've got to go and play a very good team.'

On what the turning point of last week was: 'Victory. We played better field-position football. We figured it out. We punted well with limited turnovers. We played good pass defense. We ushered up some running game. When you do all those things, you're usually a pretty good football team.'

On Reggie Williams: 'Reggie is a very talented player. You can obviously see the impact he can have on games when he gets into a rhythm in the offense. I think our offensive coaches have done a nice job of getting him included in it. It also provides great opportunity for our other wide receivers. Reggie gets most of the attention, but there were huge plays made by Paul Arnold, Charles Frederick, especially on third down. Patrick Reddick had a good game for us. We've got a nice group of receivers. We'll show up.'

On Cody Pickett's performance against Oregon: 'He did a nice job in terms of seeing what Oregon did. Oregon did not blitz an incredible amount, but when they did, Cody put the ball where he needed to put it. Cody has played within himself during the last few weeks. We have not gone backwards. These last two weeks, we've had three penalties as an offense. We have not gone backwards and that is the key. You can't take big sacks, you can't make it third-and-forever, but we are playing better football. Simple.'

On how the Huskies have overcome problems: 'We just kept working at it. I don't think it is a secret as to what our problems were. We're not there yet. We're 6-5, but we get a chance to finish the goal we set for ourselves at the conclusion of the UCLA game, which was to win the Northwest championship. We've got a chance still to do that.'

On Nate Robinson: 'Nate has some swagger to him. He's also got some immaturity to him. That is to be expected when he hasn't even taken midterms yet. He is a great young player that is going to get nothing but better.'

On which players are more of his own: 'I've never thought of it that way. I was grateful for both of their efforts. I've never thought of it as my guys and Jim Lambright's guys. I worked hard to make sure that Jim was and is still a valuable member of the Husky family. I didn't want there to be a division in the ranks as to who was with me and to who was in the former regime. It isn't like that. It is about the University of Washington and I'm privileged to be a part of it.'

On the competition between two great quarterbacks this weekend: 'I think they have actually got a little bit of a relationship. I certainly think there is a healthy respect for one another. Both are important to their respective offenses.'

On what Paul Arnold and Ben Mahdavi have meant to the program: 'They've been terrific. Paul Arnold was one of my first recruits. He was a huge name at the time. I think Paul has been a terrific team member. He's had some terrific games. I know he would have probably liked to have bigger numbers when it is all said and done, but the truth of the matter, he has never blinked one time. He just tries his best and does whatever you ask him. I am going to always consider him a great Husky. With respect to Ben Mahdavi, his story about leaving and coming back as a walk-on, earning the scholarship as a special teams player, becoming a MVP of our defense as a junior, a captain as a senior, that is a great story. That is what Washington football is built on, kids that grow up in the state of Washington and dream of playing here and make it happen and do good things while they are here.'

On Washington State head coach Mike Price: 'I have a very healthy respect for him. I think he is a great coach and obviously he has done a great job at WSU.'

On if he anticipated Cody having such great statistics: 'I certainly thought we had a good player in Cody. We never envisioned what numbers that means. You just hope he is the kind of guy who can be a leader, the kind of guy who can pull off a drive when you need it most. Those are the kind of intangibles you look for in a quarterback position and certainly he has responded to those.'

On the challenges facing the Washington defense this week: 'Matching up with those wide receivers. They are all so tall and they have got a running game going with it too.'

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