Tuesday's Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 7, 2003


Opening Statement
'We're excited to get back into our season, had a productive two weeks with the open week, and are certainly facing a formidable opponent in USC.'

On Saturday's USC Game
'It'll be a team effort right across the board. Field position will be very important. Special teams obviously come into play heavily. They've got a great kicking game, their punter and field goal kicker are ranked nationally, so our returners and return teams will need to do a good job. Offensively, they are very explosive and productive, with big play guys (Kearly Colbert and Mike Williams) on both sides of the wide-out position. They've got a slew of running backs that can all play, and they're physical and aggressive. They run hard inside and their offensive line is playing well, especially in the most recent ball game. The quarterback (Matt Leinart) can put the ball on the money and is making real good decisions. I know he was rolled up a little bit, but he did come back, showed some guts and toughness, so we'd assume that he'll be back full power and ready to go. He really does a nice job spreading the ball around. I think they do a nice job with their offense ... it's unpredictable. They get the ball to the backs, to the tight ends, the fullback. (Brandon) Hancock was very productive after the catch versus Arizona State.

'They're very thorough offensively and what the means for our defense is that we have to play responsibility and assignment football, and we can't go chasing people. They do have big play capability. Can you eliminate it? Obviously you can try, but no one's had success doing that against Williams or Colbert. (Applying) pressure and keeping them off balance is important. On the opposite side of the football, their defense continues to gain strength. Their four down people are the best that we've seen to date. Terry Johnson is a very productive guy at Washington and I think they've got four like him at USC. (Matt) Grootegoed is probably one my favorite guys in the league, he just makes plays all over the place, a very exciting guy to watch. They put him in a position to execute and make plays. Their secondary is very talented. I know people have thrown the ball on them, but I think that's more a matter of them pushing people up front, shutting down the run, pressuring the passer, and yet people hit some fortunate plays against them. But, I see them across the board as very talented and athletic secondary people. Offensively, we have to try to keep them off balance. We need to be productive with the run, we'd like to control the ball as effectively as possible, but also mix in the pass productively as well. Those will be the keys to the ballgame. All facets of our team need to perform against a very talented opponent.'

On Quarterbacks Trent Edwards, Chris Lewis and Ryan Matter
'We don't have a pre-designed plan to give him (Chris Lewis) a series or two. His attitude has been tremendous ... very supportive, very conscientious in his preparation. He's worked hard, and he's practicing well. Physically and mentally I think he's prepared to play. But we're pleased with the progress Trent (Edwards) continues to make. He makes better decisions and gains game awareness the more snaps he takes. His arm strength is something we continue to work on and see where he can benefit us throwing the football. There's no real design at this point, but we have two guys, and I would add Kyle Matter in there as a third individual, that we feel could run the offense productively.'

On Trent Edwards' Progress
'I don't know if I would say that the game against Washington was a big step, as much as I'd say it was a continuation. Every snap he takes as a redshirt freshman and seeing three different defense styles in the first three games has been productive for him. He's had to acclimate and adjust to things we can't really simulate in practice, and he's doing that on the field. I think he's come through. If he gets rattled a little bit he kind of resolves that and continues to play. He's a very confident young man and has demonstrated his ability to make plays the more snaps he takes.'

On The Difficulties Of Getting Into A Routine With Two Byes
'I give a lot of credit to our staff and players. The mindset has been to come and work, and we may not play on Saturday like everyone else, but we still come and prepare. The benefit has been more snap opportunities in a non-game situation for our younger players, and also from a health standpoint. The guys with the nicks and the bumps heal up effectively. I wouldn't advise this for everyone, but for our program right now with a lot of young players it's probably been productive.'

On Learning About Stanford's Young Team
'Certainly, the more you play, the more you learn. What I saw was resilience in all three games. There was a great effort and a real good focus in all facets of the ballgame. There are things to improve upon that the players are aware of. There's a great accountability to hold each other to a high standard and a real commitment to being productive and successful. So you look to see that continue during the season. We want to avoid being an up and down emotional team. We'd like to be consistent regardless of whom we play, where we play, or when we play. I see progression with a lot of players through the three games.'

On Defending USC
'They're a hard team to pressure because the quarterback doesn't hold the ball for a long time. They have a lot of three-step or quick five-step drops to get the ball up and out, and that's a hard thing to attack. If you stop for just a moment, the quarterback gets the ball out of his hand. Not many people have had success pressuring Leinart. They have a neat scheme offensively. They have a great tight end and two wideouts, so it's tough to double up on anyone. And they run the ball well, so there's not an aspect of the game that they're lacking in. Against USC it will be a team situation where field position becomes important. You can't turn the ball over and give them good position. Offensively, you have to control the ball with short passes and by running the football. That gives you the opportunity for long passes and keeps their offense off the field. Defensively, we have to force them to make plays and not allow them to exploit our mistakes. They have big play capabilities.'

On Goals For Improvement
'There's not one particular aspect of the game we're looking to improve. The running game with a lot of new faces up front can improve; our pass protection continues to improve. We can improve the short passing game, hitting people underneath productively, the intermediate and long zones, really all the things we've been working on all year. There's nothing where we say, 'this is the focus.' The focus is what we do, and to do it a little more effectively and productively in each successive game.'

On Coach Teevens' Impressions Of The Pac-10
'It's the most balanced conference I've been around. There are have and have-nots in the SEC and the Big-10. Here, on any given Saturday, people really need to come to play.'

On Stanford's Running Backs
'We like to mix them up, but Kenny Tolon has had a hot hand. J.R. Lemon actually played a little more fullback against Washington. Colin Blackhurst was out so he stepped forward unselfishly and assumed the role inside for us, so when we did run the two-back set, he was blocking for us more than anything else. But both of them have the ability to play and David Marrero is progressing also. We play all three of them, and I think that helps each of the guys play a little bit better. I'd like to get a few more carries to the other guys, but if Kenny keeps carrying it the way he has, we'll keep pushing it his way.'

On Stanford's Schedule
'Really, we're excited to get back into game mode, but the approach won't be that different from our off weeks. We'll practice the same; we'll have the same structure and strategy offensively, defensively, and on special teams. It's nice that we don't have to wait so long between contests.'

On Special Teams
'We train a lot of people in special teams. We feel comfortable, we won't be hesitant to use Marrero out there as a kick returner, as a punt returner ... (Will) Svitek as a kick returner, We'll put T.J. Rushing in there or any other guy that can help us. On occasion, a guy may need a break, and we'll put another guy in. And the nice thing is the next guy will step right up and play like the first guy.'


Opening Statement
'We're really excited to be coming back to the Coliseum. It seems like it's been a while since we've been there, and we know it's going to be a while until we come back so we have to make the most of this opportunity.'

This is a critical Pac-10 match-up with Stanford. Stanford is off to a nice start. They're playing good football, and they've changed a great deal from a year ago. We're kind of scrambling to catch up with all of their new stuff on offense and defense. They've had good play from their defense early on and they have had real nice play from their young quarterback. They're rolling and this is a big opportunity for us. We have to make the most of it. We're looking forward to it.

We have a situation at quarterback, and we don't know yet how Matt Leinart is going to be. We did not let him run around yesterday, so we'll see how he does today and tomorrow and then we'll try and make an assessment. He had a minor ankle sprain with a couple injuries from last week. Other than that we're in pretty good shape. Chauncey Washington looked real good yesterday. Winston Justice also ran around yesterday. So we're hopefully getting stronger.'

On Matt Cassel and Brandon Hance's position on the depth chart
'(Brandon Hance) has not played enough for me to know what would happen if he got an opportunity to start. We've said all along that we would play both (Matt Cassel and Hance) if the opportunity arose. It didn't really happen that way last week, but Hance would have played in the second half had Matt Leinart not returned. We'll just stay on course as we planned because they both deserve playing time. They both deserve the chance to show what they can do. So it is still the same status.'

On the changes at Stanford
'They've changed their coordinators and their play-callers. They come out with a real interesting style on defense. Very aggressive, very attacking and it caught the first couple of teams totally off-guard because they did not know what to prepare for. They did very well against Washington. Very aggressive ... 3-4, 4-3 ... both schemes mixed in their styles. Offensively they've come out running the ball well, and they've done more than you think they would have done with a first-time starter. The QB has done very well.

I'm sure they're very excited about the start of their season. They only lost to Washington in Seattle and played a very competitive game. We're concerned that they're coming off a bye. I'm sure that they're going to have new things prepared for us in an attempt to keep us off balance. We're going to go in expecting the unexpected, and we will have to make some adjustments as the game goes on.'

On the Arizona State win and the depth of the program
'I think it's a good statement. The fact that John Drake can come out and do well and Eric Torres can come back from an injury and play and also do well ... obviously LenDale White was a huge contributor ... Dallas Sartz came off the bench and played linebacker and safety ... Greig Carlson did a very nice job ... so yes, it's a good statement for us. If we can continue to draw on that and show that guys can come off the bench and help us, then that's really significant for us.'

On third wideout spot
'We're still leaving that position wide open in terms of competition. Steve Smith has done fine with the chances he's had. Justin Wyatt has done well. Chris McFoy was coming on before he hurt his ankle and Jason Mitchell has worked real hard so he deserves some more playing time. What it amounts to is a very competitive situation. These guys are working real hard and it gives us good depth. We like letting a lot of guys play, and they deserve to play. I think it's becoming more of strength for us.'

On the improved defensive performance in the second half
'I think we really played well in the second half and got stronger as the game went on. For one, we're seeing Shaun Cody at full speed now. He has not always been 100 percent since he's been back and has not always been able to hang in there through practices and games. But the last two weeks have been his best two weeks by far. He helps everyone else play well.'

On running back situation
'I didn't say much about it last week, and I'm not going to say much about it this week. We're just going to wait and see how the week develops. The plan is to make sure that we run big and get the big guys in there. We want to make sure that we hammer the ball. We need to hammer the football to make our offense most effective. It was really clear last year, and we've been waiting for this factor this season. I'm anxious to see how (Chauncey Washington) contributes when he comes back and how Whitney Lewis continues to develop at the spot. All of those guys are about 230 pounds and they all pound the football. It helps give our football team attitude. I'm really excited about that part of our game.'

On LenDale White
'He has been a factor from the first time he carried the ball. He's really big. He really runs heavy and runs thick. He wears on you at practice. He's had big plays and runs through people just like he did in that game at practice. None of those runs were runs we had not seen. We've worked a lot against him with the top defense, and he has been very effective. It's just the fact that it took us a while to get everything sorted out. It really was not a factor that we had missed him in the weeks before. It just didn't happen last week, and we were a little frustrated by that. We also blocked well the week before but you could not tell. I'm just pleased that we made this step because it will make a big difference for our team.'

On weak first half against Arizona State
'Well, it was 10-10 at halftime, and I really didn't mind that. I also didn't mind it last season at Notre Dame or against Iowa. If you look where the football was ... we were on the two yard line, then on the four yard line ... but we just didn't get the right opportunities. We were just taking our time getting going and making sure we didn't make any critical mistakes. Defensively, both games were similar. The other team moved the football better than we would have wanted them to. However, we sacked them a couple times and got them on third down plays, so I'm not really concerned about that. I'm more concerned about the loose yardage in the running game and a few loose plays in the passing game where we missed tackles.

'The difference this year is that we're not controlling the ball as well as we would like, or you could say we're not getting off the field as well defensively. That is a factor that a lot of areas can contribute to. We are keeping the score down and we'll play better. We'll have better games.'

On Brandon Hancock
'Brandon Hancock played great. He did a nice job, and it was great to see him contribute. He played a lot of plays ... he blocked well ... he'll catch more balls in the future ... he's a really, really good football receiver. He'll come out of the backfield and make plays down the field in the short game. He'll turn it up, and he's as fast as any fullback around. I'm hoping that he can be a big factor. If we can keep the fullback alive in the receiving game as well as blocking, and Dominque Byrd continues to make plays that draw your attention, then we make a pretty well rounded offensive.'

On Mike Williams and team coverage
'We have not seen any major difference in the coverage of his area. We haven't really seen anything out of the ordinary, only what you should expect of a guy that's got the kind of abilities that Mike has. (Stanford) is a team that can do things that are a little out of the ordinary than other college teams, so we'll see. They might try some things on him. The good part about it is that your tight end becomes a factor and we have Keary Colbert, who is definitely a factor. If they really take Mike out of the game, then that doesn't mean we still can't move the football.'

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