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Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes
Release: 10/09/2000
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Oct. 9, 2000

Weekly Press Conference Washington vs. Arizona State Coach Rick Neuheisel Quotes

(General Remarks): "We are excited about this weekend's ballgame with Arizona State. It should be another big-time game. (Oregon State Head Coach) Dennis Erickson said to me prior to our game this past weekend that you can take a lot of teams in this conference and flip a coin. Most of the teams are very evenly matched, especially when you start doing the pluses and minuses of talent and most of the teams in the conference are playing pretty well. It will be a very good test for our team. It is certainly a concern going on the road again, given the results of our last road game. So, hopefully our kids will understand that we will have to play extremely well and execute with some level of precision to be successful in Sun Devil Stadium. Other than that, we are excited to still be in the conference race and looking forward to a great game with the Sun Devils."

(On the Miami win over then #1 Florida State): "The Miami win is evidence of what is happening in college football. There are a lot of good teams out there and you better be ready to play on any given Saturday. I think it is also evidence of what a home field can do for you, obviously they had a great crowd at the Orange Bowl. The other thing the Miami game did was maybe give us a little more confidence, that we are still a good football team and we can still accomplish a great deal. The fact that we were able to sit and watch it prior to our game against Oregon State was a bit of a lift."

(On the talent level of Oregon State): "I think they are excellent. I think their offensive line is very talented. Their wide receivers are as fast as any in our league and their quarterback had a great night. When he plays well and goes along with what is already an accomplished running game, their offense can play with anybody. Defensively, they have great speed and we used their speed to help us a little bit in our screen and draw game. I thought Marques (Tuiasosopo) and our guys played pretty well."

(On the injury status of FB Pat Conniff): "The MRI has shown that he has a torn MCL. It is not something that is surgically repaired. It is basically symptomatic, meaning that when the symptoms subside he can play again. Normally, the symptoms subside between two and three weeks. He is encouraged that he will be back in a relatively short time. People play will MCL injuries, it is not something that requires surgery but he will have to brace it and depending on how swelling goes, that will allow him to come back. Braxton Cleman and Kenny Walker will stay at fullback.

(On the Oregon State offense getting big plays against the Husky defense): "When you play against a lot of two-back offenses, which is what we have mostly played against, and then you play against a one-back offense your defense has to understand how important gap integrity is, meaning staying in your gap, not trying to spin out because you feel like you are being blocked and your trying to beat the block and you leave your gap open. Ken Simonton is a genius as far as making people be wrong if they get out of their gap. He has great vision and great explosiveness to be able to find that area and he is into your secondary. Our kids need to understand that when you go to the one-back stuff there are no overlaps where people can fill in with safeties coming downhill. You have to hold your gaps and we didn't hold our gaps very well.

(On Rich Alexis): "I was very excited. I had hoped for that kind of performance. He certainly is physically capable, the question is confidence level, understanding of blocking schemes, protection, all those things that go into being the complete tailback. He is not a finished product yet but he had a great start and will continue to get better with time"

(On whether Rich Alexis' performance helped Paul Arnold): "I think that when someone else is playing well it always adds to the effort level of the players at the same position. He wants to do it to because he is a team player. Obviously both were beneficiaries of great blocking up front. Our guys up front did a great job."'

(On Arizona State's big play capabilities): "They are throwing it over the top of people. Coach (Bruce) Snyder is right, (Todd) Heap gets a lot of attention. People try to double him and in trying to double him they single outside guys. (Quarterback Griffin) Goodman seems very natural throwing the ball down the field. They are trying to run the ball too. Our safeties are up there in the tackling picture, if you look at the tackling numbers, they are both leaders. You put those corners on an island and those corners have to make plays. They have struck and struck quickly. They are not throwing for an unbelievable percentage, it's just the yards they are getting per attempt which is the major concern."

(On the low number of interceptions by Washington defense): "It has been a point of emphasis. We work on ball drills all the time with our defensive backs. If you were to come out and watch practice, you would say that they catch the ball really well. But, it has been a little bit of an albatross for us this year in that we haven't been able to finish plays. We love the fact that they are there to break up the pass, but we would certainly like to come down with the ball. There were opportunities this week as there were in the Oregon game. Those are momentum plays that we've lived to tell about thus far. We would have loved to have a few go in a different direction in the Oregon game, but I'm just thinking we are going to have a big breakout and have a lot of them when given the opportunities down the road."

(On Hakim Akbar): "He's having a real good season as a tackler. There's no question that he is a very physical player and a very reliable player when it comes to wrapping up the ball carrier. But, in asking him to be down hill, you are putting yourself at risk when things get behind him. As he continues to develop, he will learn when and when not to get his nose into the line of scrimmage."

(On Oregon State's big play accomplishments against Washington): "Anthony Vontoure undercuts the post. The technique to play over the top of the post. But, he was looking back into the backfield and he sees (OSU quarterback) Smith almost fall down and just heave one. He sees the ball and immediately thinks the ball can't be coming and all the sudden it goes over his head. It's one of those things we can coach better and get him to go over the top. It was a heck of a play, we give credit where credit is due."

(On the offensive line): "I thought the entire offensive line played well. It was a collective effort. It wasn't like they were perfect on every down. I think Oregon State was ready to play and played well, but the offensive line executed our plan pretty well."

(On Paul Arnold receiving Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week): "Paul is a remarkable guy. He never complains, regardless of whether he thinks there is a problem or not. He is as steady of a person as you could imagine. I love the fact that Paul is getting some recognition and I also love the fact that Paul is improving. I think Paul would tell you that he can continue to improve. While he has done great things when he gets outside, we still want to see more speed in between the tackles and hitting that with low shoulders and coming out the other end of things. And yet, we are also very pleased with his play and hoping he can continue to repeat it."

(On the return to his hometown of Tempe, Arizona): "It is where I started my affinity for college football. I went to Sun Devil Stadium since I was five years old. My uncle and I would sit and watch every game and I knew every player and every number. I would always go down five minutes left in the game and beg players for their sweatbands. Obviously lots of memories. But, this is a very important game for our team and a very important game for their team, so those memories are going to have to take a backseat."

(On last year's matchup with Arizona State): "They were opportunistic. We turned the ball over uncharacteristically. We had played pretty efficient going into the game and had big wins over Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State and started the game in the same fashion. We went right done the field and scored. And then, for some reason, we didn't take care of the ball. We fumbled, threw interceptions, had a kick blocked and basically let a game that should have been very close get away from us. We've got to understand that and not let it happen again. We expect a very close game, but we can't let it get away from us. The other huge change in momentum in that game was not making it on fourth and one. I noticed in watching their Colorado State tape and the game being tied 10-10, there they are on third and one stopping Colorado State as they are getting ready to make a first down inside their 40-yard line and giving Colorado State an excellent chance to win. Arizona State stopped them. They have great short-yardage defense."

(On the Arizona State defense): "They are aggressive. They are bringing much more pressure than they probably did a year ago. (LB Adam) Archuleta is a speed merchant. He runs around and is like a bullet on the field. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in unbelievable effort on the field. We will have to know where he is. I heard Coach Snyder say (LB) Solomon Bates had a great game against us a year ago. I think he is a really good player. They have talent, just like most teams in this league. It's going to be a dog fight."

(On the differences between the Arizona State quarterbacks): "I think it is pretty much the same stuff. (Griffin) Goodman is very natural throwing the ball down the field. (Jeff) Krohn likes to run around a little bit more."

(On the contrast between the Washington tailbacks): "I don't think by watching our tape one back was doing a certain kind of plays while another is doing another kind of plays. I just think we need to continue to get better and usually you need to play two guys at that position to do that. Not necessarily play them equally, but you need to have two guys."

(On Willie Hurst): "While we are not down on Willie at all, the two guys that were playing were playing pretty well. It just doesn't seem to be prudent to change our rhythm."

(On Marques Tuiasosopo): "It was his most efficient game. He certainly has made throws in other games that we all love and want to see more of. In terms of just executing our offense and playing within himself and making good decisions, I think he played really well."

(On the option game against Oregon State): "We didn't try many options against Oregon State, noting that they are extremely fast. We did some in short yardage, but didn't have much success with them because their short yardage was different than we had planned for. But, the option is always part of what we do. Even the threat of option is good for our offense. They know we have it. There is enough evidence of it and its prowess that they have to still defend it. They have to know who's taking the pitch man and who's taking the quarterback every time."

(On TE Jerramy Stevens versus ASU TE Todd Heap): "I think that both are gifted receivers. I think that Todd is better at the line of scrimmage right now that Jerramy. He did not have a good game blocking this weekend. That is credit to LaDairis Jackson and DeLawrence Grant, two great defensive ends for Oregon State. But, Jerramy has got to get better at the point of attack."

(On whether OSU was trying to double team Jerramy Stevens): "I don't know that it was specifically to take Jerramy away. I can't point at one time when there were two people on him. I think people are ganging up on the box and because that is where Jerramy lines up, it can seem that there is a lot of traffic around him. That is why we made more of an effort to break-up our formations this last game. We are going to continue to do that."

(On Derrick Johnson): "Derrick has great confidence and while he bleeds inside when he doesn't do well, he wants nothing more than to get back in there. His confidence is never wavered. He's a remarkable young man. I think is going to have a tremendous career here."

(On the importance of winning the OSU game after the loss to Oregon): "It was really important. We talked about it prior to the game. One game doesn't make a season. We certainly showed improvement on offense and hopefully can continue to do that."

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