Comments From Jim Harbaugh's Weekly Press Conference
Oct. 14, 2008
Here's a sampling of some of head coach Jim Harbaugh's comments from today's Stanford football media luncheon as the Cardinal prepares to meet UCLA this Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
On the status of quarterback Tavita Pritchard
He showed all of the signs of getting hit in the head. He had a mild concussion. I anticipate it's likely he will play.
He was making the throws and running the team. He makes it look easy, taking the snaps and getting in and out of the huddle, calling the plays. Our terminology is very wordy. He has a tremendous ability to get the formation right and make the right play call, audible at the line of scrimmage.
It's important for the quarterback to run and lead the team whether you are home or away, but especially on the road when you are in a hostile environment. He can keep his poise and think through the play call, think through where everybody will be on the field and access the defense before the play clock runs out. And then execute the play.
On the play of quarterback Alex Loukas in the Arizona Game
Alex showed a lot of resolve, a lot of athletic ability and a lot of poise in that situation. He came into the game without having taken a lot of reps at quarterback during the week. I told him, `Warm up--you are going in.' You might get one shot, maybe two to lead us down the field and win the game. He did that both with his arms and his legs.
We called the plays we felt he could execute successfully. A lot of it was Alex Loukas being a football player, being an athlete and a competitor. He got more than what some plays were called for. He did a good job of executing his assignments and then some.
On playing Loukas this week against UCLA
Like anybody who plays well, practices well and demonstrates he can help the football team, we're going to find him a role.
On the 4-3 start and looking forward to a possible bowl berth
We are not where we would like to be. We'd have liked to win more games at this point. Everything we set out to do at the beginning of the season is still out there for us. For us to win a conference championship, we're going to have to win every game. It starts this week.
Given our recent history against UCLA and last year's game, where we got whipped, it's affected my sleep for the last 387 days. It left a bad taste in all of mouths.
I've never been associated with a team that's beaten UCLA--coaching or playing. And there's nobody in our locker room that's beaten UCLA, player-wise. There's only one way to rectify that and that's to go down there and get a win. All of our focus is on this game coming up.
On running back Anthony Kimble
Anthony is self-motivated. Just like a lot of our fifth-year guys, they have great pride. They wanted to come in here and turn Stanford football around. That has been their motivational tool. Anthony represents that and has been as vocal about it as anybody.
The relationship he has with Toby and the rest of the running backs is outstanding. When he has gotten his opportunities to shine he has done it. When he's called onto block, he blocks. When he's called to return a kickoff, he returns it. He's doing everything he can to help this team. A lot of it has to do with his resolve to get Stanford football back where it belongs. They (fifth-year seniors) have a real personal stake in fixing Stanford football.
On coaching at Stanford
Stanford is a unique opportunity for everybody. I talked to the team about this. Some guys will go to school to play football and finesse their way through college. Others will go to be the best they can be. I think if you come to Stanford, you go with the idea of being the best. When they step into a pre-med class or a biology class, not only are they trying to be the best they can be, but they have the opportunity to be just the flat out best because they are competing against the best.
I'd say the same for the football team. We play the best. Out schedule is in the top-10 in all of college football. You have a chance to compete and beat the best. That's what will set our players and coaches apart. It's a great challenge. I love that part about it. Each week we have a new challenge.
It's staring us in the face right now. This (UCLA) is one of the biggest challenges we'll face all season. I'm not calling it life-or-death, but it's close.
On the factors for success of the running game
The play of the offensive line. The biggest key has been probably Alex Fletcher, who has played consistently since he was a freshman. His move back to his natural center position has been a key for this group. I haven't been around a better captain in all my years of football than Alex.
Equally important to the running game have been the backs. The backs have blocked. Owen Marecic is one of the best players on our football team. When you look at a team and ask are they a good football team, you have to ask two questions. Can you tackle and can they block. On offense, Owen Marecic is that guy.
The runners--Kimble, (Jeremy) Stewart and Toby--all block. Plus, they can all run the football.
On Toby Gerhart
I knew Toby was good after I saw him play last year against San Jose State. I had an idea he had the potential to be a great back. This year, he's been amazing--one of the toughest runners I've been around. His athletic ability, leg drive and his ability to get yards after contact, his vision has been superb. He's extremely light on his feet. He makes cuts that some of the light backs excel at.
On the red zone defense
I've been extremely pleased with the way our defense has played against the run all season. It was great to see the resiliency against Arizona. You like to see a team that can overcome some obstacles once they get down inside the 10-yard line and you turn them away with three field goals. That's demoralizing. We were really good at that on Saturday.
First and foremost, if there's anything we want to do on our football team, it's stop the run. That's number one. Playing tough on defense and winning the battle on special teams. I think you can see that has won us some games this year.
On the turnover margin
We have to get that straightened out. You can't be a winning football team or a championship football team if you turn the ball over and not create any turnovers.
Creating turnovers wins games...avoiding turnovers wins championships.
On UCLA's personnel
Their defensive tackles are two of the best in the conference. They are athletic at linebacker and in the secondary. I thought Arizona was the best and most athletic group of linebackers and secondary players. UCLA is just as good if not better. They have one of the best corners in the league. They present a lot of issues for us.