Big Game Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 17, 2003

Opening Statement
'We're very excited to have this opportunity against an explosive team like California in the Big Game. We've watched them on tape, and they've done an outstanding job. They're a very talented and productive team with lots of strong points, and they're very aggressive on defense. Our program continues to move forward. We took a little sidestep last week against Oregon State, but the Big Game is the Big Game. I learned last year how rabid the fans are (about the Big Game) with the support for the game. The sensation throughout the crowd just pulsates, and we're certainly happy to have the game at our place this year. It will be a tough contest.'

On Stanford's progress from the 2002 season to this year
'Our team's been playing well together as an entire entity -- on offense, defense and special teams. Our leadership has been a huge plus for us. A lot of guys stepped up in the offseason to take a leadership role and the result is that we're getting very close to where we want to be there. We're not there yet but attitude comes first.'

On Stanford's progression during the 2003 season
'We've progressed through the course of this season. The wins versus UCLA and Arizona State were great for us. (The loss at) Oregon State was a sidestep, and playing two good teams like California and Notre Dame will be challenges for us. But our players are very resilient.

On particular areas where Stanford has improved
The offensive line has developed. There are four or five players on the offensive line that have played a lot this year that have never taken a snap of college football heading into the season. Their play has helped our receivers get down the field a little bit more and our passing game has opened up as a result. Defensively, we've been able to put some pressure on the passer.'

On California's 54-7 victory over Washington last Saturday
'They were just so explosive. (Quarterback Aaron) Rodgers really had a great grasp of the offense. He adlibs and adjusts, and if you put pressure on him he will step to the side and throw. He's not afraid to run the football. Their ground game is very potent. You need to play great defense against them. They're a very well-coached team and solid in all areas.'

On Stanford's football players
'The thing that I really appreciate and respect is the quality of the student-athletes that we have here. They certainly have a lot of activities going on in their lives being high-level students but they are football players when they get into the locker room. It's something I appreciate because I come from a similar background. I value people who seek excellence in everything they do.'

On Stanford having some success this season
'It's been fun as a coach to walk in and see their eyes lit up and smiles on their faces. It means a lot to our program to see progress being made. They see progress being made, and that's the encouraging thing. They keep pushing. They'll have a setback on occasion but they keep chasing that carrot. Their enthusiasm continues to mount. Now, we have an opportunity to play a great team like California this week, so it gets our guys quite excited.'

On whether there will be a lot of gadgetry in the Big Game
'I'm sure on both sides you'll see some things that you haven't seen before. The players and coaches enjoy it, and the fans love it.'

On getting over last Saturday's loss at Oregon State
'The mindset of our players has been the next game. The last one doesn't matter. It's the next one that's coming up (that matters). It's pretty much the same week after week, whether it's good or bad you put that one behind you, take lessons and focus on your next opponent.'

On the overall team feeling towards the Big Game
'We're very excited to play in it. We have great respect for Stanford's team. Coach Teevens has done a great job with them. They're very physical on both sides of the ball and have done a great job. There is a lot riding on this game for both teams. For us, a winning season and bowl implications, and the Axe is always there for both teams. It is the big game and it's very exciting. Our focus this week is to keep our players under control, as they are very excited for this game. I'm sure Stanford players are equally excited and I am positive it will be a great football game.'

On practice this week
'This week we are going to practice like we did last week. We're fairly beat up right now and last week we kept them in shells for two days and we're going to do the same this week to make sure we are ready for the game. We had a couple injuries last week during practice and we can't afford any this week. We are essentially not doing anything different.'

On the current injuries
'We came out pretty healthy after this game. Joe [Adimchinobe Echemandu] was ready to play last week if need be, and I am sure he will be fine for this weekend's game. We'll see how his stands this week in practice. With regards to the other injuries, Garrett Cross is out for the season - that was disappointing after he broke his leg during practice. Besides that, there are no other injuries from last week's game.'

On the current season record
'It is what is it is. We're 6-6, and that's where we should be. We've lost four out of six games in overtime or the last couple minutes. You can always say 'what if,' but if you make plays, you aren't in that situation. There are no excuses about those games; we just have to play better.'

On the status of C Nolan Bluntzer
'He played a little bit towards the end of last week's game, but Marvin [Philip] is doing a nice job and he will start next week. Nolan is still injured but he is doing well.'

On playing a 13-game season
'It's been a very long season. Going in there were a lot of speculations, like if we should play a particular game. We are a very young team and felt like the repetition under live fire would be good for a young football team. It has done that and they've been battled tested, but the other end of that is the risk of injury. I do believe deep down that it was good because a lot of our young guys got to play a lot of games and have lots of learning experiences. I thought playing Kansas State was like a bowl game because we're able to take all of our freshman and redshirts so that they can see the atmosphere and the expectations of our program.'

On last year's Big Game
'The crowd and the excitement through the week, as well as the fans rushing the field, were memorable. You don't know what to expect until you go through it. It is a great experience, and I saw how much it means to everyone. It is just a very exciting game.'

On the team feeling after Saturday's victory over Washington
'I haven't really spoken with the player yet because they have Sundays off. This afternoon we will meet to discuss last weekend's game. I don't think I need to tell them very much. They know what is at stake - the winning season, the Axe, a berth to a bowl game. We need to keep everything in perspective and practice and prepare to our fullest capability.'

On having a young team
'I think that when you have a young team, you tend to rely on the junior college transfers, as well as the college freshman. An investment needs to be made, but it cannot be done in the first couple of weeks. After going through tough times, the investment is paid by the young players. They believe in the program now and grown closer as a family. The biggest part is that they have grown together as team.'

On being a second-year coach
'We can now call more things of offense because Aaron [Rodgers] is more experienced. Garrett Cross was also becoming more familiar with offense, so it hurt losing him. With defense, junior college players have a better understanding. We also got a new special teams coach, and it has helped our program and game. People used to ask me if I bled blue and gold, and at first I didn't, but now that I have investment my time and energy, as well as 'blood, sweat, and tears,' I now feel I am committed to the Cal football program.'

On the aura of playing the game
'I always go into a game with the intent to make first downs and hopefully score some points. We made a lot of big plays last week and our players played very well. It's a tribute to how well our coaching staff and players prepare. After the Oregon game, we were very depressed because we felt that we let one slip away. I am very impressed with our program.'

On the Pac-10 Conference
'You just can't figure this conference out. I just think that teams match up differently with one another. For two years now, we played USC very close, and this year we were fortunate enough to win. I cannot figure out the logic behind this. You would like to say that each opponent is always ready for the other, but truthfully, different teams' offense and defenses match up differently with each other. The Cal-Stanford match-up is still in the early phases. We have just started watching tapes and going over game plans. Stanford is a talented team that is very physical up front on offense. Luke Powell is a tremendous player, and they have a quarterback that is also an outstanding player. He plays with his arms and his legs. Their defense is very physical inside with their tackles and they also have good speed on the edges. The safeties are great fillers and tacklers. As the week goes on, we will see exactly how we match up.'

On national ranking and the BCS
'I am not sure about the national rankings, except for the fact that USC is ranked second. I really don't follow the polls too much. What I would really like to see is an USC-Oklahoma national title game. I do believe USC is a great team that would represent our conference and the West Coast well.'

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