Quotes from Dennis Erickson Press Conference
Sept. 3, 2007
Tempe, Ariz. - On getting the first game over with:'It's good to get the first one out of the way. You have a little bit of an idea of where you're at after you play that game. You work all winter, you work all spring, you go through fall camp, and you do all these different things, and then all of a sudden you play your first game. Once you play, you find out a little bit about where you're at, obviously the opponent and who you play. But as I've said many times, that's the only place that you can really get better is playing a game, so it's nice to get it out of the way. Now we continue on with the second one and see where we're at.'
On what he learned about the team after the opener:'We're a long way away from where we need to be. We played well at times. Obviously, we're facing what I would consider a much better football team this week, at least as far how San Jose State played, nothing critical of San Jose State, but the level of competition goes up, there's no question about that, so we'll find out a little bit more. But we made a lot of mental mistakes that I didn't realize when I came in here after the game on Saturday night, that can be corrected, coverages and so forth. We blew a few here and there, we blew some assignments, we dropped some balls, we had some penalties. We're a ways from where we need to be.'
On whether there is pressure on sons being coached by their fathers, such as Colorado QB Cody Hawkins and his father Dan:'I don't know that it is. The thing about is those guys are around locker rooms all their lives. Watching him play, you can tell he's a kid that's been around it all his career. There's probably more pressure on mom than anybody, because she's got to sit in the stands. But, from what I understand, and I do not know them real well, but they have a very good relationship. As I watch him play, he's pretty darn good. He understands the game, he understands what's going on, he throws it the right place. He's a redshirt freshman, but he plays like he's been around for a long time.'
On the status of Keegan Herring for this week with his neck injury:'Right now, he's questionable. We'll see how he is. There's a possibility. He's stiff right now. We'll see how it goes during the week. I doubt that he'll have any contact during the week. He has a pretty good chance to play. Keegan's a tough guy now, and if there's any way that he can play, he'll play.'
On the advantage of being able to look at his depth during the San Jose State game:'It gave us an opportunity. Having Danny Sullivan play and get a good period of time where he just didn't come in and hand off like you do at the end of them if you happen to be ahead. He was able to execute our offense. He was able to throw the ball up the football field. It was funny, that was his first touchdown pass of his career. Every other time he's come in and played the only pass he ever threw was a naked bootleg because they're trying to run the clock out so he's faking the run. Really that's the first time he really got to execute an offense in college where he was able to use all the weapons. So it was really good for him. We had some guys in the offensive front that got a chance. Richard Tuitu'u had a chance to play. We were able to play Robert [Gustavis] at center, so that helped because he hadn't really played there. Defensively, we played a lot of different guys, got a chance to see a lot of different guys play. But it helps, you can practice all you want until you get into a game, it's the same thing with those second guys too. As you know, they are an injury away from playing, so it helps you develop depth.'
On the wide receivers:'We did some good things, did some bad things, caught the ball fairly consistently, dropped a few. Route-wise, we were a little undisciplined in some routes, as far as depth and running it the right way. I thought we caught it and made some plays, but we got a lot of work to do there also.'
On how the team reacted after the win and if they reflected his feelings that there was still a lot of work to do:'I hope so. If they didn't, they're not paying attention. But they were happy. You go through all those two-a-days, you go through this whole thing, a coaching change, and all the different things that these guys have had to go through, so now finally you play your first game, and you come out and play well. They were excited about winning the football game. They were also realistic about where we're at and the direction that we have to go. Good football teams know that. They come out and know where they're at and what they have to get better on. Anybody that sits and doesn't try to improve as the season goes on is going to get beat. So we just have to keep getting better all the time. That's been our philosophy, that's what we preach to our players all the time, and obviously hopefully they can see that as time goes on.'
On his thoughts on Colorado coach Dan Hawkins:'He's a great coach. I've known him for a long time personally. I've watched him grow as a coach over the years, starting when he took over for coach Koetter as Boise State and the great success that they've had and have continued to have, of course. I've watched him at Colorado. He's very good at dealing with players, from what I see. He's a got a philosophy that he doesn't vary from. They're obviously good offensively and defensively. It's just a staff, they've been together for awhile. But he's an outstanding young coach and has done a good job every place he's been. And he's doing a good job there. You watch them against Colorado State this year compared to last year, they're a much improved football team, on both sides of the football. The biggest thing is the quarterback play. He [Cody Hawkins] knows what he's doing and understands that offense. He's probably been studying it since he was about six years old. I think last year they were very good defensively and still are, but they were hurting a little bit on offense just because of that position, and they are a lot better now there.'
On whether I-AA teams have narrowed the talent gap recently:'Well it's numbers more than anything. It used to be 95 scholarships and now it's down to 85 for us, and the I-AA schools, for the most part, have 65. So when you have to 85 as opposed to 90 or 95, there are more players out there, and so the I-AA teams are getting better talent-wise, there's no question about it. It's a matter of survival. The best chance for I-AA teams to beat Division I teams is early in the year when they are still healthy. That happened, you can all it a fluke or whatever, but Appalachian State played pretty darn good in that game and gave themselves a chance to win. But you see it quite a bit where they play them real good or win some games. I believe that's one of the first Top 10 teams that thatt's ever happened to. Montana State did it to Colorado last year. But you've got to have a lot of breaks for that to happen very often.'
On Ryan Torain:'His intensity level is as good as anybody that I've ever coached. He's very similar to Steven Jackson in that way. He's an extremely good blocker, a physical runner that can run over people, break tackles, and he's got good speed. I thought he ran very well Saturday, but like anybody else, they've all got to get better, and he knows it. He's got to play with a little lower pad level, which he does, so at times he's got to get a little more consistent with that, but he's a guy we're depending on and we're going to jump on his back for awhile.'
On maintaining defensive consistency from the first game:'A lot of that is game-planning, which coach Bray and the defensive staff do a good job, and keeping it simple so that they understand what gaps to hit so that they can play at full speed. We just have to try and keep it as simple as we can. We were very simple against San Jose [State]. You didn't see blitz us a lot. We blitzed some. Our guys knew what gaps to go to. When you do that, you can run to the football and make plays. That's what we were able to do against San Jose State. We don't ever want to take that away from. There are going to be some teams when we match up as the year goes on that are going to be real physical, so we have to try to find a way to move our people and do some things up front, this probably being one of them, that will be a little different game plan than it was against San Jose State. When you have success running and playing hard, then it's a lot easier to run and play hard the next time, so we have an idea of the intensity level that we need to play at on defense. We just have to do that every week, and it's something that we really have to emphasize.'