Nov. 6, 2000
Weekly Press Conference
Washington vs. UCLA
On Curtis Williams: "Curtis' situation has remained relatively unchanged over the weekend. We got news on Thursday of last week that he was getting sensation in his upper body and his brother reported that he even had sensation in his fingertip. That has not necessarily been confirmed by the doctors who I guess have other ways of determining that. His brother David does confirm that he can feel things in his upper body, which is certainly encouraging. The doctors have confirmed sensation in the neck and they also have confirmed that the diaphragm is working meaning that there is some ability to operate functions below the C-2 level which, of course, is good news given that the injury took place at the C-2 level. We will remain optimistic. This is a long road back and we are hopeful that he has started down it. News, although it is not coming as quickly as we'd like, hopefully will continue to be encouraging. His brother basically tries to touch his fingertips and arms and tries to trick him and his brother says he bats a thousand with things above his waist. I am not exactly sure what clinical tests are done. I have not had that conversation with any of the medical experts. His brother David said he watched the game from start to finish. The attending physician kept wondering why there was all this hoopla about this guy named Curtis Williams because he is there under an alias. Apparently this nurse didn't know that this was Curtis Williams. They watched it and David said Curtis could not have been more pleased. Obviously it has been a long week for Curtis and it was nice to have a moment to rest from all the things he was thinking about this was the l east we could do. I was glad we could provide a victory."
On how Curtis is communicating: "He communicates a lot with his eyes. He apparently is moving his lips as well. He actually moved his lips a little when we were there last week. The audible sounds are beginning to emanate as well now too. We are hopeful that we are on the road to recovery albeit a slow one."
General Remarks: "We play the mighty Bruins. They are a very talented team, maybe as fast a team as we have played since Miami. Obviously they are a team loaded with skill. If you look at their wide receivers, their defensive backs, their defensive linemen, their tight ends, running backs, all the way through the positions, you have to run well and they all run very well. So we have a tall order in front of us, as it is every week. This is a tough conference and every team we go up against has great talent and we are catching UCLA off two very close wins and they have some momentum going after beating Stanford and Arizona the same two teams we have played the last two weeks. It should be a good game and hopefully our crowd will get behind us and hopefully we can get our ninth win."
On whether he has experienced a season with so many close games: "I can't recall, with what has gone on the last couple of weeks, it ever being like this for this length of time. Usually it is reserved for the big games against everyone's archrival. I recall those kinds if games, like in '82 when I was at UCLA, where we won on the last play of the game when USC tried to beat us at the end with a two-point conversion. There was the Stanford-Cal game when Cal scored remarkably on the last play and the band ran out on the field and the Washington-Washington State was a slug fest that was real close. Those kinds of games I recall. This stretch has been the entire season, since conference play began and it has been unbelievable. I can characterize it no other way. For a conference to have the scores be 38-32, 35-32, 37-35, 27-24 and 44-38 is phenomenal. It is mind boggling."
n whether revenge is a factor against UCLA: "Normally it is more for the papers than for the players. Certainly our players understand that UCLA kept us from having an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl last year. They did that because they played better than we did. If we are going to keep ourselves alive for a conference championship then we are going to have to play better than they do."
On Greg Carothers' performance filling in for Curtis Williams: "Greg, like a lot of our defensive players, early in the game was tentative. Certainly you can't fault them for that, but Greg rallied and became an instrumental player especially in the second half. I though the played a marvelous game given his level of experience and given his starting appointment."
On whether Carothers' hit in the first half woke the team up: "I think it's one of those things that no one likes to talk about. It is an eerie feeling being out on that field watching one of your teammates being attended to as was the case with Curtis. Then there is this big collision and everyone suddenly remembers how they felt standing there on the rain soaked field at Stanford. Then everyone pops up and says we can go on. If nothing else that hit was a wake up call that you have to go play and you have to keep going. Just because lightning struck at the wrong time and the wrong place doesn't mean you go out there and play with any less speed or aggressive nature to play the game well. I see some kids that are tentative and I don't blame them. I don't want to get angry at them,. I don't want to chomp at them or challenge their manhood or any of that. They have given us everything we have asked of them for the entire year and it's a tough set of circumstances given what took place over the last few days and for us to get angry at them would be the wrong approach. We want to tell them to relax and that we are still in the ball game and they do need to play better than we played and we need to do that. Like they have all year they responded."
On whether the team will have a normal week of practice: "I think so. Certainly there is not a day that goes by that we don't think about Curtis and hope he improves and wish him well. But Curtis often told me hold much he wanted to win a championship as does everyone involved and all of us that are capable of participating need to see if we can follow through on our goal."
On how the team pulls of fourth quarter comebacks: "Good fortune. I don't know. I'd like to believe they are well prepared to play in that environment when it gets tight. I think we have remarkable people on our team that rise above adversity. I think that there is something that happens when we get in a situation when we cant afford to do anything other than just play, we just play. My quest was to find out how to play like that prior to getting into that position to having our backs against the wall."
On whether he is tired of games coming down to the end: I'm not getting tried of winning. It isn't like this is something that is saved for the University of Washington. We talked about the Pac-10 and how almost every game is coming down to the wire and that is because we are playing against a bunch of teams that are evenly matched. If its is going to go down to the wire then the good thing is to find ways to end up with at least one more point then they have.
On it being difficult to be on the sidelines during a close game: "I really don't worry about what is going to happen. It doesn't drive me crazy during the game because you have a job to do. You are dealt a hand of cards and you have to play them. You have a situation that you have to get yourself out of. It's like a law school test. They give you the questions and you have to deal with the issues and make sure you are writing down what you know and get done what you can get done. After the fact you can look at what you messed up on but the bottom line is you cant worry about things while they are unfolding. You have to have a set of plans and implement them."
On feeling stress in the fourth quarter: "Each of the games has had their own story line. When the clock becomes an issue there are ways to deal with the clock and play the game so you give yourself the best possible chance at success and that is how we play. Why we don't play as efficiently in quarters 1,2 and 3, I am still trying to put my finger on it. But I don't worry about that during the game. I'm not saying I am oblivious to stress. It is part of our occupation and part of what we do, but I don't feel in anymore in the fourth quarter than I do in the first three.
On Marques Tuiasosopo's impact on fourth quarter rallies: "The trigger man is huge in this because he has got to separate himself from the tension of the moment and just play. He also is the mouthpiece in the huddle so how he calls the play and the confidence he invokes are all critical things and he obviously does that very well."
On why he doesn't panic in the fourth quarter: "When I was at UCLA and we were behind I would always go up and down the sidelines and say this is going to be the greatest comeback in the history of UCLA and we were going to find a way to win. I would try to get everyone fired up about some miracle happening. I remember when our fourth-string quarterback John Barnes went down the field and J.J. Stokes had about six catches for 267 yards and it was a remarkable game. There were games when we didn't come back, but I would still try to get everyone fired up. My first time at Colorado when we were in an adverse situation was at Michigan and we were down by 12 points and we're coming back and Kordell Stewart fumbled on the one yard line and now there are there are four and a half to five minutes left and we are still down by two scores and I go down the sidelines doing this again and people are looking at me like I have lost my mind. They got tired of me doing this at UCLA but theses people had never seen it before. So lo and behold we throw the Hail Mary to Michael Westbrook on the last play of the game and we win the game. Then everyone in the post-game comments, who didn't realize that I was the little boy that cried wolf at UCLA, was saying I was a guy who was considered a head coach candidate. I had never been a coordinator. But after this people were saying I could predict the future. All I was trying to do, which is what I do here, and is which you do regardless of what you are trying to get accomplished when things don't look good is to think positively. You have to think there is a chance. You're going to find way. What are your alternatives? Start writing a memoir of defeat when there are 13, 10, five minutes left? You have lots of time to deal with defeat afterwards. With five minutes left lets figure out a way to win."
On whether any of the comebacks stand out: "Well the one that was the most bizarre was the Stanford game in that the game was seemingly under control at 24-6. The next time our offense goes back on the field it is 28-24.
On how good Pac-10 defenses are: "I think the defenses are playing great. These defenses have played some big non-conference games. Alabama was number three when UCLA played them and UCLA beat them and Michigan and we beat Miami. I don't think there is any shortage of defense in this conference. The other thing is the stats. I don't know why we keep stats in overtime. That seems a little misleading to me and it seems a little unfair to the defenses.
On Marques Tuiasosopo and "intangibles": "When I go out recruiting and I look for quarterbacks I look for the guy who when all the kids were 13 or 14, all the kids went to his house. That's where they were going to go because he was going to tell you what the fun thing to do was. Everyone remembers at that age whose house you went to. Somebody in that town had a place where you wanted to go because he would tell you this is what we're going to do. That is what your quarterback does. He is the point guard of the team. Clearly that is Marques. The kids believe in Marques. He walks the walk as well as talks the talk. He is not above making mistakes himself. When he makes a mistake he quickly blames himself. He doesn't point fingers. He'll jump a guy and tell him what he has to do but he'll quickly follow that up by saying `you can do it, you're a great player'. Pat Reddick, who has caught one ball this year and hasn't played in two years, is making a big play in the final drive and he is making that play as much because he has worked hard but also because Marques believes in him. Those kinds of intangibles you can't quantify. You can't say what they are worth but they are extremely important."
On Husky Stadium being an intimidating place to play: There has been a lot of talk about home field advantage and certainly Autzen Stadium has gotten a lot of attention this year because they have 18 in a row there. We would like to rebuild that kind of feel here at Husky Stadium. The reason I was interested in Washington as a place to coach was because of Husky Stadium and the advantage it held when I was a player and a coach here. This place was better than any place in the west. I still believe that it is and I want to start building it back up as a very difficult place to play. Hopefully that our play helps the fans stay encouraged so we have to play well so they will be excited and it will remain a hot ticket."
On Paul Arnold's back injury: "Paul Arnold feels like he could play but I believe the proper thing to do is to follow the doctor's orders which is to rest."
On UCLA and match-up problems: "They were a very fast team. Last year they were coming off a bye and they had a chance to heal up. They have been a beaten up team and they had a chance last year to get well. We were an exhausted team having played Arizona down in Tucson in 90-degree weather and Marques didn't practice at all for UCLA because of the injury he sustained against Stanford. Maurice Shaw was beaten up. So we watched the tape yesterday and we just looked slow, frankly. Hopefully we'll play a little faster this week. We will have to because UCLA and those match-ups are still there. They have a speed advantage against us especially their defense against our offense. I think we are healthier at tailback and we are getting a big contribution out of our tight end. Todd Elstrom is having a good year. We would like for Justin Robbins and Pat Reddick to keep improving and getting more consistent so we can have a full compliment of weapons. I feel good. The one place I feel a little nervous is Pat Conniff. He hurt himself with the shoulder injury and I am not sure which level his effectiveness will be if any."
On UCLA's throwing game: "They know how to throw the ball. They have some big tall wide receivers that are scary. Freddie Mitchell and Brian Poli-Dixon are legitimate guys who will probably play on Sundays. They are what the NFL is looking for in terms of tall, speedy receivers. They have three nice looking tight ends. Their tailbacks are good looking players. I tried to recruit both of them. I know a great deal about their team and their coaching staff is very creative on offense and they will find ways to move the ball. Corey Paus, I tried to recruit as well. We have to change things up. We can't be predictable and let them get us in one on one situations when they know they'll have them. You can't afford to do that with the caliber of their talent. Their secondary is fast as well. They look good in their suits and they are a fast bunch of kids."
On DeShaun Foster: "He is an excellent back. He may be as good as any in this league. I know there are lots of backs that are having great years but DeShaun Foster is a legitimate guy and I think that he will play on Sundays as well."
On whether the fourth quarter comebacks are a domino effect: "It is impossible to predict whether having one comeback leads to the others. Having success in a situation gives you confidence that there can be more of the same. I think the character of this group is such that we didn't have success against Oregon but we almost came back. We were down 23-3 and scored 13 points and had the ball and a chance to come back again. Confidence is important but I think these kids believe regardless."
On the focus on the fourth quarter: "That started when I arrived because there wasn't success in the fourth quarter. I was looking at ways to try and get ourselves back up in the conference race picture following the 1998 season that was the one thing that was glaring was the fourth quarter and how things had not gone well. I figured that was all we had to do to turn it around so we added a fourth quarter part to our practices. We are trying to improve in all facets of our game, not just the fourth quarter but it has been an interesting story line this year. This team has been through a lot of exciting games the last two years. Even the BYU game last year was a tremendous fourth quarter in terms of fighting our way back we just didn't get it done. It is just a case of a bunch of kids that don't quit and don't say die. We have been fortunate as well. It's not just because we have coached well. It has been good fortune and good effort.
On superstitions: "Coaches may be the most superstitious people on the planet. We don't deviate from any routine and I talk to my players about routines and adhering strictly to the routines. I think it helps you get your mindset to play well. You go through the same things so you have a culture that you are about in preparing and you give every game that same amount of attention in preparing for. Mine is that I don't eat anything on game days."