Tuesday's Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 11, 2003

Opening Statement
'It was a nice win last Saturday. We played three very solid quarters and would have liked to have finished stronger in the fourth, but I was pleased overall with the performance, especially coming out of the blocks the way the team did. It was a team win. Our special teams contributed, the offense moved the football, and the defense did a nice job as well. It was a good win, and now we're looking towards Oregon State.'

On Oregon State
'They're a very talented football team, and they're nationally ranked offensively and defensively. They have a lot of talented athletes. Their quarterback, Derek Anderson, has done a nice job for their offense. He's throwing the ball well, leads the Pac-10 in passing yards per game and is ranked nationally. The offensive line has protected him well, and they're a very solid group. Steven Jackson, their running back, is probably at the top of the list in the Pac-10. He's as good a back as there is nationally, has big numbers and is an effective player in all facets of the game. He catches the ball; he breaks tackles; he has real good vision inside, so he's a force. James Newson, their wide receiver, is the number one receiver in the league. So, they've got a lot of weapons on the offensive side, and they play well as a group and have a nice scheme that they operate effectively.

Defensively, Richard Seigler is as good a linebacker as we've faced, ranking way up there with tackles. He has good speed and a good eye for the game. In the secondary, they've got a freshman on the corner, (Brandon) Browner, who's done a really nice job. I'm very impressed with him; he's a big, longer-limbed guy who runs very well. And then there's Aric Williams, who we've seen before. So they've got two talented corners, the safeties are effective, and they do a nice job with their people up front as well. Dwan Edwards is really a force inside. They're solid on the special teams as well. They've had great success this season, and it's obvious why. They play well as a group, and they play hard.'

On playing in the rain versus Arizona State
'(The rain) really didn't affect us. We chose not to throw the football in the fourth quarter, but I thought the ball security was strong. We work on that, we work wet-ball drills and we do that with regularity, so it's not a big deal for us. Defensively, I thought we tackled effectively through the course of the ball game. They had a couple of throws late in the game, some very nice throws. I said it before, Andrew Walter, in my opinion, is one of the star quarterbacks in the conference. They protected him well and when we put pressure on him, he adjusted his speed and made some key throws with a wet ball, which I was very impressed with. But I don't think the rain will affect us (in Corvallis, Oregon). Playing on an artificial surface, the footing will be a little more secure, whether it's wet or not, so that shouldn't be an adjustment for us.'

On ball-sharing at running back
'J.R. (Lemon) and Kenneth (Tolon) will both see time, and (David) Marrero will be in there as well.'

On right guard JosiahVinson
'He came out of the chutes since spring practice a year ago, and we've been very impressed with him. He had the ankle injury and had surgery and missed basically everything. He did his strength training and upper body work, and as cardiovascular workouts he did a very good job with an exercise cycle, but it was limited. Coming into preseason his ankle was still somewhat tender, so he didn't practice with the regularity that some of our other players did, and that put him a little behind. He's a very conscientious young man, and he worked hard on what he could do. He's a student of the game and a very intelligent individual, so he's made great progress jumping in. He's seen spot duty throughout the year as he did on Saturday. If you look at the number of reps he took, he's not quite in game shape yet, and certainly getting more time during the week will help him appreciably. But we feel very comfortable with him, like Jeff Edwards, a redshirt freshman, and there's a lot of things he has not seen before, but he's acclimated quickly. When he's been in the ballgame he's been productive for us, and I thought he finished the game on a strong note Saturday.

On the offensive line
'It's been an ongoing progression. (Offensive line coach) Steve Morton has done a great job with a lot of inexperienced guys. (Kirk) Chambers is the only one who's taken a snap before this year. So [Morton's] really developed these guys. It's just consistency. The attitude of our players is very solid, and they see progress though it may not have been reflected on the scoreboard. They're pass protecting a little bit better and run-blocking a little bit better, and finishing off blocks. That's allowed us to hold the ball a little bit longer at the quarterback spot, which has allowed us to disperse the ball a little bit more amongst the tight ends and wideouts. Now we can push the ball down the field deeper and with greater regularity. That gives us greater balance for the run scheme, and certainly (last) Saturday was the best performance. We have a back that rushes for 100-plus yards, and we threw the ball around to a variety of people. That helps everyone. It's a progression with the offensive line that's had the greatest impact.'

On holding blocks
'A lot of it is technical. You look at the redshirt freshman that are playing, and even Mike Sullivan and Drew Caylor, who have never really played offensive football, and you see that pass protection is that hardest thing to teach an offensive lineman. You look at the NFL and there's even a transition from college to the pro ranks because of the speed that they face. Look at a redshirt freshman such as Jeff Edwards, who is a four-point wishbone offensive guard, and he'd never taken an offensive pass set in high school. To go through that transition without the experience or the time to gain experience, they were thrust into the fire and they did a tremendous job learning quickly. But there were some times guys were cut loose, and they couldn't maintain or sustain a block for as long a period. Their footwork was still developing, the same as the running game. It's a feel-type deal when you have two guys blocking one, and then working to a linebacker. When one leaves, one overtakes the block, and it's all timing and experience. Then you throw in a blitz package, and we saw a lot of pressure early on from most people, which was the prudent thing to do against a young quarterback and an inexperienced line. There were just an awful lot of looks they had to observe. So the progression has been tremendous. Again, they're intelligent people, they work hard, it's very important to them, and Steve Morton's done a great job with them. It's just acclimating to things they'd never seen before and things they'd never done before. Now they've done it seven or eight games in, and they're just better than when they'd never done it before prior to the first game.'

On quarterback ChrisLewis' passing with a more experienced offensive line
'Chris can throw passes now that he couldn't throw earlier in the season because the offensive line is holding blocks longer. And because of some of the things we've done, we're not seeing as much pressure as we were seeing earlier in the season. People were increasing their blitz package by 30%-50% against us and just putting great pressure on the offensive line to hold blocks and to make the quarterback get rid of the ball more quickly. We had to run more precise routes more rapidly as a wide receiver, so it's kind of a snowball effect. When you're able to sustain blocks a little bit longer you can do a little bit more and that makes people play a little bit more honestly. It opens up different aspects of the game. Saturday you really saw what David Kelly and the offensive staff working towards multiplicity and taking advantage of the talents that we have.'

On plans for the offense
'We want continued improvement across the board: more precise routes, more effective views from the back end in terms of cuts, running consistently in a physical nature, the offensive line, the pass protection, the run-blocking schemes, the quarterback decision-making process, the actual passes, so we can continue to improve every area of the football team. But the satisfaction of seeing the execution and the work they've put in come through with productivity is certainly very encouraging to (the players), and it doesn't come as a great surprise to me. I knew we had that capability, but it was also a continuing work in progress.

On quarterback ChrisLewis
'(Quarterbacks coach) Bill Cubit has done a tremendous job working with Chris, playing within himself and his decision-making capabilities. He doesn't try to make all the plays, but making the plays that are available to him. He tucked in the ball and scrambled, picking up a couple of key first downs. Rather than waiting and hanging on a receiver, he threw the ball away and avoided a loss of yards. He did a nice job of looking off receivers and dropping the ball underneath. He did that a couple times with Alex Smith, looking off a linebacker. So it's been fun to watch that kind of progression, and I give great credit to him. He was in a tough situation where he wasn't seeing a lot of time, but he never backed off in his yearn to learn, digesting what we're asking of the quarterback situation and believing in himself. And the opportunity arose and he's taken full advantage of it.'

On Stanford's moral after winning the last two games
'You talk about continuing and pounding the rock, as the players say, having the resiliency to just keep on working. We saw bits and pieces of that, but the bottom line is that people want to see wins. It's an affirmation that what we're doing is productive, and that we'll be successful. To go out in consecutive weeks and prove ourselves in consecutive weeks has been a plus for us. There's a sense that we're making progress, that it's coming, but the thing that was most impressive to me was that they weren't giddy and joyful in the locker room that we got a win, but that they were hard on themselves. They were saying that 'we could have done a better job, we could have played at a higher level, we could have shut them down, we could have put more points on the board,' and that's really what you're looking for ... a team that is never completely satisfied. They appreciate what they've done but are never satisfied with the end result. That's the mindset we've talked about throughout. We've had great leadership from our players, it's continued through practice, and I'd expect a strong practice week this week in preparation for a great opponent.'

On playing teams coming off a bye week
'It can be a huge plus, or it can be detrimental. The continuity from week-to-week is difficult. You don't have someone to prepare for. You adjust your schedule and your team is a little bit out of sync because it's not what they've been accustomed to. On the flipside, the healing process is helped out if you have guys who are bruised and banged up. From what I understand (OSU was) not in that situation. So, it can go both ways. They have more time to study what we've done and how we do it, and we don't have quite the same preparation period, but it's sufficient and it's the norm. It's interesting to see how teams respond. Some are real high. Oregon certainly played tremendously well (after a bye week before the Stanford-Oregon game). Other teams struggle at times. We don't know until game day.

On Oregon State running back Steven Jackson
'He's a very talented guy. You don't shut him down, and no one has. He's a physical runner, and he breaks tackles. The big thing that struck me is that he is a patient runner. He sees things, lets the blocking scheme develop, lets people flow, and then takes full advantage of the creases created. He trusts his line and his line has done a nice job opening seams up inside as well. He's a tough back.'

On keys to beating Oregon State
'Offensively, we need to progress. They are nationally ranked as a defensive group. They pressure the passer and their four down people come hard. They mix in the blitz with regularity. (Richard) Seigler is a very talented linebacker. (Jonathan) Pollard and (Trent) Bray are equally talented individuals. You need to keep them somewhat off balance. You need to establish the run but also have the ability to move the ball through the air. They put a lot of pressure on the passer, then they play a lot of man coverage and have good cover corners. They're a tough crew to attack from an offensive standpoint, but what we need to do is control the football, play the field position game again and be very thorough with our special teams. Our special teams played well last Saturday. There were no big returns, but we put the defense in a good situation, and the offense was put in a good situation frequently also.

Defensively we need to tackle well. (Steven Jackson) is a guy who breaks a lot of tackles. We need to get him on the ground. We like to pressure the quarterback as best we can to keep him moving his feet and force him to throw before he's prepared to do so. It's a tall challenge against a very good opponent.'

On turnovers
'Turnovers are critical. It's really team football that we've stressed. (Running backs coach) Wayne Moses has done a good job with the running backs securing the ball. We've reduced the interceptions and (quarterbacks coach) Bill Cubit's really made a big push with that. (offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach) David Kelly has made a big push to maintain possession, and if there's a three-and-out, that's okay, we punt the ball away, and we're very comfortable with our defensive approach. When you give up scoring opportunities or take away scoring opportunities from yourself, or give scoring opportunities to an opponent, that's devastating. We don't want to over-preach it, but that's a huge deal with us - the number of takeaways we obtain and the limited number that we give away, and we're making progress there.We work hard at it. (co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach) Tom Williams and A.J. Christoff have a session each practice where we focus on stripping the ball, recovering fumbles, shaking the ball loose. We do a lot of ball work with the secondary, and they've done a nice job in ballgames as well. We do the same thing on the flipside offensively. We work on securing the ball. So attention to those details is making a difference. The linebackers have done a good job shaking the ball loose. (Defensive tackles coach) Dave Tipton's defensive line has recovered a bunch of fumbles. Oshiomogho Atogwe has forced a bunch of fumbles and Trevor Hooper's done a nice job with a couple of picks in the last couple of games. They are so helpful with the field position and the emotional swing.'

On pass interference penalties
'It's something that happens. You disagree with some (calls) and you disagree with other (calls). When we have a sort of live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword mentality, we believe in pressure, and it's been very effective for us. When you do that, you put your back end people on somewhat of an island. (Co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach) A.J. Christoff has done a nice job. We're playing the ball better in flight. We've had a number of pass breakups with Leigh Torrence, Stanley Wilson, T.J. Rushing, Trevor Hooper, and O.J. Atogwe making big plays and taking the ball away, but really they're all by themselves. It's true one-on-one football. But when you have competitors and guys that can line up on one guy and get them wherever, when the ball is up for grabs, a lot of things happen, a lot of subtle shoving and pushing and holding and so forth on both sides. We've had our share (of pass interference calls), but playing that style of defense has helped us pressure the quarterback. There's a little bit of a trade-off.'

On Oregon State's offense under different head coaches
'There is not an appreciable difference. They spread the ball around and run the ball with the big guy inside, but they'll also chuck it all over the field. They're similar in many regards. I think that Anderson has just progressed from a year ago. (Oregon State head coach) Mike (Riley) has certainly done a good job with their football team. They're very well prepared and they execute. They've got some experience, and that's certainly been helpful. They've got guys who have continued to do the things they've done in the past.'

On Oregon State defensive coordinator MarkBanker, a former Stanford assistant coach
'He's a solid coach, and we're happy he's having the success that he's had. You always have a couple of wrinkles to keep people off balance. Obviously he's familiar with our personnel and so forth, but we're doing things a little bit differently with the people that we have offensively. He's seen it on tape and there are really no secrets in coaching, so we don't really prepare any differently.'

On Oregon State's penalties this season
'There's a lot of flags out when those guys (OSU and WSU) play. You hope that you can take advantage of penalty situations that give you first downs and field position. The big thing going against teams like that is just composure and poise with your squad. Just do the things you need to do and don't get retaliatory. Realize that there are benefits to be had just by being a disciplined outfit. But the way they play, they are a wide-open offense, so they make chunk yards with regularity. If there's a procedure or penalty, they seem to overcome them very easily. Defensively they are very opportunistic and they force a bunch of turnovers. They tackle very well, so if there is an advantage, they seem to have responded pretty well. I know both coaches would like to reduce the penalties, but their players play hard and they get to the ball. It's not been 'chippy' in nature from what I see. They just play hard and pick up a couple of flags.'

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