Press Conference Quotes
October 11, 1999
Washington vs. Arizona State
Head Coach Rick Neuheisel
General Remarks: "We are excited to be 2-0 in the Pac-10 having beaten both Oregon and Oregon State. We are excited about the way things went in the first half of the Oregon State game but upon review of the tape were concerned that we may have let our standard of play diminish. It's incumbent upon our team as we go forward that we never allow the standard of play to ever drop even a little bit because it's something we all need to cling to as a badge of honor of how we plan to take the field each and every time out. We just can't afford any lackadaisical play, any lack of intensity when guys step between the lines. I'm really excited about this week's practice. Hopefully our team will understand the urgency that's necessary when the stakes get higher in conference play. Arizona State looks as quick as anyone I've seen in the defensive fronts. They fly around, they've got the ability to come up and cover you with their cornerbacks and we had better be ready for the task at hand. Offensively they've had some inconsistent play because of the health of their quarterback, and they've had different players in there, but they have the ability to put lots of points on the board in a hurry. I just think this is one of those games that we have to make sure we do a great job of preparing for because I think Arizona State is a fine team and Bruce Snyder is a coach that's been around a long time. Their destiny is definitely in their own hands. We have to understand that we're not playing a team that's down, a team that's going to come in with any less intensity than we have, and we better be able to fight fire with fire. I'm anxious for the contest but certainly we've got a lot of work to do in preparation for it."
(On the area which needs most improvement): "I think as we look at the numbers it points to our offense because we started the season having the ball 12 minutes in the first three quarters against BYU, and the last three weeks we've averaged around 38 minutes in possession which means that offensively we're doing things to keep our defense off the field, to create impatience for our opponent offensively, and do some things that way. From a special teams standpoint, I think we started out gangbusters, and we need to pick it up. I don't like our tackling on our coverage unit and I think our punter can get more consistent. Those are little things, and things that have to be shored up immediately. Defensively, I think we improved a great deal, especially with the intensity over the last week. I thought the way we played in the first half against Oregon State was the kind of football we'd like to make a standard, the way we flew around. Even when balls were caught there was a price to pay and if we can keep that up we'll be the kind of defense we'd like to have."
(On quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo's input with option): "Marques is certainly talented and probably could coach the team if we let him but right now he's going ahead and being the quarterback. We've got a bunch of talented coaches on the offensive side of things, that have all been around option whether or not they've called it in their own offense, they certainly know how to block it and scheme it and thankfully were having fun and Marques is a big part of it. But right now he's got his basket full of playing quarterback and going to class and trying to be a successful business student here at the University of Washington."
(On being surprised at the recent success of the team): "I don't think surprised is the right word. I'm proud of the way we're playing and yet my role in all of it is to keep fanning the fire, keep letting them know what they're capable if they'll continue to work. We have neat kids in this program. Guys that have a great deal of pride in each other and in their school and so forth. But we also need to understand that we are not talented enough to just walk out there and win games. We have to come with an urgency about us that starts Tuesday at practice, and as long as we continue to do that and its not just coaches imparting that but players imparting it to each other then we'll have a chance to continue to grow and continue to improve and have one of those great seasons."
(On the possibility of a letdown after three big wins): "I think that you always concern yourself with letdowns, especially after emotional wins, especially after the hype diminishes. But our players are more into getting ready and getting each other excited, rather than the external amount of excitement. It's our job as coaches to keep giving them the information and telling them what's at store, because as I said before, we're going to be playing a juggernaut this weekend. I think it's one of only four teams that doesn't have two losses, so it's right there in the thick of things in the Pac-10 conference. It has a lot to play for."
(On Arizona State performance thus far this year): "I think they played a real fine running team last week in Notre Dame. I have not watched the New Mexico State game, but I think they got ambushed in that one. I know for a fact, watching the game against Cal and the game against UCLA, that this team is capable of dominating the line of scrimmage, especially given the way we played in the second half (at OSU)."
(On how to avoid becoming overconfident): "If they'll follow my role and just not read the papers, then it won't be hard. We're in the midst of a pennant race, and we can't get caught up patting ourselves on the back. Let's understand that we are who we are: we're a team that was 0-2, a team that is 3-2, and not in the Top 25. If we're going to continue to improve, which is incumbent if we want to go to the places we want to go, then we need to do a lot of work. It's our job to stay focused on the task at hand. There will be plenty of time to reflect, but it's our job to improve."
(On Anthony Vontoure's personal foul): "We were not arguing. I told him definitively that it's inappropriate behavior and it's not going to be tolerated. He mumbled something as he walked away about how he wanted to get after the guy who had caused the altercation, and that's when I called him back and said, 'no, that's not how it goes. You just go and play,' and he understood. That's important across the board. As much as we like to play physical and play inspired, we also want to play with a lot of class and integrity. That needs to be a hallmark of our program too, and it's important that each of the kids understands that."
(On defensive end Mac Tuiaea and defensive tackle Jabari Issa): "They're doing ok. I think both can play better. They're big-time guys in our defense, and the attitude with which they come to work and play every down is pivotal to our success. It's difficult when you take a guy out a scheme he's played for three years, and change it to something else. It gets him out of his comfort zone, where everything is subliminal and stored away and he can just play. Now you have to think and play and that slows you down a hair. When I say that they can play better, it's not an indictment of how they are playing or how hard they are playing, it's just learning it to the point where they can feel comfortable and get to the same level of spontaneity."
(On the importance of pressuring the quarterback on defense): "It's always important when you're playing a talented offense to put pressure on the quarterback. It takes pressure off of your secondary, and it also makes the idea of offense that much more difficult. We'd love to get some pressure on Kealy, and I think that is part of every game plan."
(On the possibility of the "sense of urgency" dissipating): "Winning is always a tonic for what ails you, but you have to be careful not to be caught up in it and start thinking everything is rosy. As I've said, we're 3-2, and there are a lot of 3-2 teams out there, some of which are going to have great seasons, and some of which are going to have mediocre years. We are at a crossroads in our season now where we can continue to climb and stay in the race, and it is important that we do everything within our power to give us the best possible chance to do just that, to stay in the race."
(On tailback Willie Hurst): "He's been a catalyst for what's gone on here the last three weeks. He just missed 100 yards against Colorado, and he had over 100 in the past two games. It's a challenge to him to come back and be aggressive. Sometimes when the game gets out of hand and the score in lopsided, people start looking to make big plays, rather than just to make plays. Willie needs to understand that his forte is slashing. Although we'd love an 80-yard run, if he'll just keep getting us the seven-yard run, that's what we're looking for out of our tailback position. One of the keys to our success is our ability to control the ball, and make the defense go long-field. Unfortunately, we had three turnovers in this game. Were it not for the seven turnovers Oregon State had, we would have been in a world of hurt. We have to understand that we can't tolerate three turnovers, it's going to come back and bite us. We have to go back to square one in terms of taking care of the ball, controlling the ball, and making plays when we get down in the red zone."
(On the rotating back situation): "I rely on Wayne Moses to control that. He's been coaching running backs for a number of years. My instincts are that it is best to trust your coaches on issues like that. I think that the way we've brought along Paul Arnold has been superb. If Paul Arnold plays just that much the rest of the year, and we continue to be successful, then we'll have us a guy with a lot of experience coming back for his sophomore year. I feel like the tailback position is being handled well."
(On Tuiasosopo): "We put him in situations where he can rely on his past experiences. That's why everybody marvels at what he is doing. I still believe that he is a talented drop-back quarterback. I think that he can be special, special player and have an opportunity to play on Sundays given a pro-style offense. We have used his athleticism to combat the eight-man front and give ourselves some running game outside of the box. When you say improvement, I'm just impressed with the overall make-up of the guy. When he makes a mistake, he knows it, and he usually keeps from making it again. I've been very impressed and hopefully we can continue to give him weapons to be successful."
(On J.R. Redmond): "J.R. Redmond is one of the most talented players in our conference, he is a full-meal-deal, as they say. He can catch the ball, he can run the ball, and he can return the ball, and it is no wonder that he is projected as a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. I read that he's a little dinged up, but I would guess that given the nature of the competitor that he is that he'll play, and we had better pay full attention to number 21. He is a gifted player."
(On the backup quarterback situation): "We made the decision in two-a-days that Cody Pickett was going to be our backup quarterback, and I know J.K. Scott was disappointed, but that's where we had him. In the first four games of the season, there was no opportunity to put Cody in and get him some experience. The way things unfolded in the first half against Oregon State gave us an opportunity, although they still stayed in there with an aggressive style of defense and made it difficult to just take time off the clock and play a between-the-tackles style of offense. It's always difficult to come in and play for the first time at the major-college level, especially when one team doesn't have to worry about giving up a big play. We put him in a very difficult situation but I know he'll benefit from it and I don't regret it at all. Hopefully, Cody will get more opportunities this year. I still think that J.K Scott's a talented player. He won our scout team award last week, and I think he'll have his chance to compete again once we get to spring ball, if not earlier should there be an injury."