Tuesday's Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 14, 2003


Opening Comment
'We played a very strong USC team Saturday night, a top five program, and they were very physical on both sides of the football. They were impressive in all facets of the game and as a result we came out on the short end. But, I was impressed with our guys rebounding in the second half. I thought we played harder in the second half. It was an eye-opener to see how we adjusted in the second half and competed in the second half, but obviously not enough to make it a competitive contest.'

On the Resilience Of Stanford's Team
'Resilience will be important and our guys have been very productive in that regard. They see what happened and they understand what they need to do to move forward. It's been interesting this season because I think each successive week we face a stronger opponent. It was difficult to prepare for a team like USC that is so potent in so many different areas, and a lot of guys haven't played a team quite like that. Now they understand what it takes to compete at that level.'

On The Game Against USC
'Their defensive front was very strong. End-to-end, their four down linemen were impressive. They got off the ball very quickly, so it was certainly a challenge to our offensive line that hasn't faced that type of firepower. Their linebackers were very solid and the secondary was very capable athletically. They put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks with their four down linemen, and then they throw in a linebacker or two, and that created some tough situations for the quarterback. Their offensive line protected their passer very well. One of our strengths has been pressuring quarterbacks and getting to him with a fifth or sixth defender, and they did a sound job of getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands. He did a nice job unloading the football, and they have some talented receivers in (Keary) Colbert and (Mike) Williams. It's tough to double up one and single up the other because they can both hurt you. (Dominique) Byrd, prior to his injury, is a very gifted athlete. Matt Leinart unloaded the ball quickly, so it was tough to get him, and he was quite accurate. They had receivers who made yards after the catch, they went a bit deeper, and they did some very nice things with play action. They blocked us, picked us up front, doubled up on some of our down guys and made throws one-on-one in the secondary. They were good players that played well and executed well, so that made it difficult. Their running backs were very strong ... solid, physical ... and our tackling was not as crisp as it needed to be against people of that caliber. It's tough to simulate that in practice, and we hadn't seen a back quite like the ones they sent out, so that was an adjustment, but I thought in the second half we made positive strides.'

On Scoring Two Straight Touchdowns Against USC
'When we scored the two touchdowns back-to-back it put some points on the board, but they came right back after that and scored. They were a very solid outfit. I've been around some very good conferences, and they are as good a football team as I've seen. There is not a weak point, no chink in the armor. Their kicker, their punter, their cover teams, the team speed, the offensive front, the defensive front, linebackers, secondary players, and wide receivers are all very solid. They do a nice job, they are well coached, well prepared, and they play hard. I thought our guys came out, were prepared and played hard, but it was a little bit of a shock when they came out and drove the ball down the field and shut us down right off the bat.'

On The Differences Between The USC-Cal Game And The USC-Stanford Game
'They (USC) gave a different presentation. They played up to their level. It was probably as good a game as they've played. They played well against Auburn, but I thought, all told, it was as solid an effort as I'd seen on tape.'

On Stanford's Run Defense Versus USC
'There was a greater awareness of their wide-outs, and they mixed in the run very well. They also came off the ball and were very physical, and their backs ran hard. They broke more tackles. We had initial hits on a number of occasions where we just couldn't get their backs to the ground. I credit their backs because our guys can tackle, but they broke a few. Again, these are things that can be improved upon when you experience that level of speed and athleticism, and we'll find the same against Washington State this weekend.'

On Stanford's Offense Versus USC
'We faced a very good defense. They have not given up a lot of yards or a lot of points, and they didn't do it Saturday night. We progressed with our protection against the best people we've seen to date. A lot of young guys were playing inside, and it was a wake up call to see that kind of athleticism and speed. We need to run the ball productively, and again, facing what we faced, we were not as productive on the ground. From a passing standpoint, there was pressure, and we were not as productive in the pass game either. They're a very good football team, a very good defense, and they beat us in that regard.'

On Quarterback Trent Edwards
'Trent Edwards continues to progress. He's a redshirt freshman, so each time he sees a different or an accelerated group he's going to learn something from it. He's been very strong mentally, not frustrated or distracted. He continues to execute and makes good plays and decisions. At times there's things he'd like to have back, but I feel like he's progressing. We're going to push him to practice well, and given the situation, we're going to give him the opportunity to play, which we did.'

On Stanford's Younger Players
'I think it's significant to see true freshman like Evan Moore, (Mark) Bradford, (Patrick) Danahy and (Michael) Okwo playing as well as they have, and they'll continue to get better. They're ready to play, the (red) shirts are off, and let's make sure we have opportunities to watch them perform. There were some positive things that were done, and also some things that can be corrected. We're playing a lot of young guys, and it's good for all of them to get playing time. They learn more the more they play. Four games in and the guys are getting a grasp of what we like under the game environment, so they can probably play more as time goes on.

They're gifted athletes and they're picking up the system, and I can't say it often enough, but the best guys will play, the guys that will give us an opportunity for success. Bradford has shown some nice things getting off press coverage and working against secondary players. Marrero has good vision and some speed and slashing explosiveness, and he's feeling more comfortable in that capacity. (Brandon) Harrison has played a little bit in the secondary, and has played well the times he's been in there. Trevor Hooper, who's not a true freshman, learned a lot Saturday night. He's a physical player and the speed was a little different, so he made adjustments as the game went on. Okwo has been fairly prominent in special teams. Danahy has been fairly involved in special teams. They're confidence levels are where they feel they can compete productively at this level. And when they reach that level, their athleticism allows them to do some good things for us.'

On Washington State
'They're just like USC, they're well-coached on both sides of the ball. They have a lot of experience, a lot of older senior players who have been through the wars. They're a big physical team. The quarterback (Matt Kegel) really impresses me, he's a good decision maker, and he seems like a leader back there. The running back (Jermaine Green) is a very productive guy, a hard running back. They have a slew of wide receivers that they're not hesitant to throw the ball out to. They keep you off balance offensively and defensively as well. They're ends are different than USC's, probably faster over all, maybe not quite as big, but very athletic. They have two pluggers inside, their down tackles are physical guys who take on the double teams. The linebackers play very hard. The secondary guys are not afraid to play man-to-man. They're a complete team as well.'

On Washington State's Defense
'It seems like a continuation, a number of coaches have remained on staff. Bill's (Doba) been running the defense very similarly to what they've done in the past. And obviously I think there's a comfort level there as well. They have a lot of seniors that have been around for a long time.'

On Stanford's Offensive Line
'We've seen the strength and athleticism of our young guys on the offensive line. In my opinion, those four guys (USC's defensive line) will all be NFL players. I think they understood what happened Saturday, they saw their mistakes and understand they can play better. They had a kind of wide-eyed response, and I don't think we'll see that again. WSU is very gifted and very similar, but we've seen it already, and now we'll be prepared to see it again.'

On Drew Caylor
'Drew Taylor went in for Brian Head and did a very nice job. He hasn't had a lot of snaps from the center spot, but did an admirable job on Saturday, and he'll get all the snaps this week. Behind him we'll have Tim Mattran, Josiah Vinson, and we may have another redshirt freshman in there as well.'

On Playing At Home
'It'll be nice, yeah. We're looking forward to it. It's important for our players to be back on campus. We've traveled for a while and it's just nice to have some regularity. We'll play next week and for the next seven Saturdays, and we'll know exactly what to look forward to, and I think that will help in terms of continuity and consistency.'

On Luke Powell
'People are aware that he's the guy we look towards, and maybe they try to change his significance in the offense. His reps are about the same, the calls are similar, and the quarterbacks have the same options, but as the defense focuses on Powell, maybe the ball goes to other players.'

On Improving Stanford's Defense
We don't play USC again this year! I think it was an eye-opener. Right off the bat from the opening kickoff they did a good job of moving the ball right down the field. Their physicality and their speed kind of shocked us, and it took our guys a little while to get through that, but they did.'

On Stanford's Special Teams
'(Special teams coach) Tom Quinn has really done a great job. We put a lot of time and effort into special teams. We put our best players in the special teams roles, and that's paid dividends. (Washington State kick and punt returner) Sammy (Moore) is a gifted guy and you try to keep the ball away from him as best you can, but he'll have his opportunities. We need to execute and be aware that he can break a game all by himself.'

On Stanford's Passing Game
'We've had a number of different zones you try to attack and different schemes to attack each zone. We hit a number of short zones on Saturday, but we hope to take advantage of deeper passes and passes up the middle.'

On The Pac-10's Strength
'You look at some of the upsets week by week. I think the Pac-10, historically, has been more balanced than the SEC, the Big-10 or the ACC with the have and have-nots. It seems everyone is a have here. I think USC and Washington State are kind of special with their speed and experience, but everyone is very close. And Oregon State is right there. You go right through the Pac-10 and everyone can play, and everyone can beat each other on any given Saturday.'

Opening Comments
'My experience for a first year guy has been awesome. We haven't gotten shut out or humiliated. I haven't had to stand in front of the press and try to justify a bunch of mistakes, so we're still kind of on the honeymoon. It's not like I'm some kind of a genius, there was a darn good football team here left by (former Washington State head coach) Mike Price. So when I got the job it wasn't like the cupboard was bare. They've come together as a team worked hard in the offseason. We had a bunch of kids stay over the summer. I think (quarterback) Matt Kegel was our question going in this season, and he proved to me in the spring that he could do the job. Matt, entering this season, was sort of like a redshirt sophomore. He'd been around here for five years, but he hadn't had a chance to start, but now it's his football team, and so each week he seems to get better and better and more comfortable in that role. Defensively, we've been playing very well, and we expected to play well. The third phase is our kicking game, and you have to have all three to have a good football team. Our kicking game with Drew Dunning, who's leading the nation in field goals. Unfortunately, you lead the nation in field goals when you don't score touchdowns in the red zone, and I think that's one of our problems. Our punter, Kyle Basler, has been excellent. I think we've got the three phases of the game pretty well covered. I think we need to improve on the running game and become a little more proficient there, especially down in the red zone. We had the off week here to take some time to back up and go back to some fundamentals and get our linemen back on the boards and get some one-on-one blocking, and get some more push on the offensive line. I think we stayed pretty healthy over the bye week. Our Arizona game was very physical and our kids were pretty bruised and sore, and we gave them Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off, and then came back to work on fundamentals on Thursday and Friday and introduced Stanford on Saturday, then we had a scout team scrimmage.'

On This Season's Low Expectations
'I don't want to say the media got it wrong, I don't want to get in trouble! I can see why the media thought we would do poorly. We lost Mike Price, one of the best coaches in the country, and Rien Long and our quarterback Jason Gesser, the most valuable offensive player in the conference. And Marcus Trufant left, a corner who's starting now for the Seattle Seahawks. That's three big player losses and a coaching loss, and I can understand that with those big names gone and the head coach gone, why you would pick us sixth or seventh. But we did have a lot of starters coming back, and we had more defensive tackles than we would normally have. Therefore Rien Long was a loss, but we had a good kid in Tai Tupai who has really stepped it up in the offseason. I think he saw the light at the end of the tunnel now that Long was gone and that this was his chance to start. He really spent extra time getting himself in shape and getting ready to play the season, and he's been having a great season for us so far. So we lost some good kids, but we also had Isaac Brown coming back. Isaac and D.D. (Acholonu) were our sack leaders, and Jeremy Williams is back. Will Derting was coming back at linebacker. We had to fill one spot in the secondary and Karl Paymah has done a good job of picking up the slack there and taking over where we lost Marcus Trufant. But, you know, the ball bounced our way a couple times, our kids got some confidence, and hopefully we think we're on a roll.'

On Offseason Transitions
'We've got tremendous leadership on the defense, and we lost two kids on the defense, Marcus and Rien. But we had some depth at the defensive back and defensive line positions, and our kids stepped up and said we're not going to let this beat us. Guys like (Al) Genatone, Erik Coleman, and Jeremy Williams gave us great leadership, and they made the transition work. And Matt Kegel, as soon as that bowl game was over, was in our office asking how he could help out with recruiting. He took the bull by the horns and he organized the offseason scullies and called defensive players to make sure they were there and took over that leadership role. So, we were fortunate to have those kids. And I was lucky to hire some great coaches. Kenny Green, former alum, is an excellent secondary coach. We hired George Yarno for the offensive line, and he is a very demanding and a well-respected coach. He was a former player here also. I was able to hire Leon Burtnett to coach our linebackers, and Leon's been a head coach at Purdue. So we hired a staff of guys like Kelly Skipper, who was UCLA's offensive coordinator. And Pullman's a neat place to live, especially if you're a family man, so we were able to get some good guys. And we hired Timm Rosenbach, who played here and in the NFL, and he's taken Matt under his wing and has done a great job of bringing him along. So the transition was hiring some good coaches and having some great leaders who stayed here after the other kids left.'

On the win over Oregon
'I still think Oregon's a good football team. I don't know what happened after our game. Going into it, I thought they were a good team, and I still do, the have good players. But it was one of those days when everything went right. It was unbelievable to me, standing right there on the sideline. We tipped the ball and it would fall into one of our defensive backs' hands. Probably one of the reasons (we won the game so decidedly) was that our defensive backs and whole defense was fired up and running to the football. When you run to the ball and you get 11 hats to the ball, good things happen. They were flying around the ball, and our defense and tackles got a few tips. I think three of those interceptions were off tipped balls by the defensive line, and if you get seven interceptions in a game and two punts blocked and two fumble recoveries, I mean that's unheard of. I'd like to say it's all great coaching and great players, but honestly there's a whole lot of luck involved and a whole lot of bad luck for Oregon.'

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