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Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Release: 10/02/2000
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Oct. 2, 2000

Washington vs. Oregon State Oct. 2, 2000 Coach Rick Neuheisel Quotes

(General Remarks): "We are anxious to fix what's broken, it's the rallying cry. We are disappointed that we didn't play better at Autzen Stadium in our loss to Oregon, but certainly they played very well, especially in the kicking game and on defense. We've got to address the things that are plaguing us, that being the lack of a consistent running game, the lack of great coverage on our kick teams and turnovers. If we can eliminate those three things then I think we can get back to the business of playing good football and hopefully being very competitive throughout the rest of our conference schedule. We are playing a very, very good Oregon State team. Clearly, the best team won on Saturday against USC. They were in great shape throughout the contest and certainly listening to Coach Erickson talk about his defense, it's no wonder. They are playing very, very well. It's a tall order for our offense this week and we've got to get ready to play. It's also a tall order for our defense in that Ken Simonton is right now probably the best running back in the conference. There are certainly a lot of good ones out there, but right now all his numbers would lead you to believe that there is not a better one around. They are giving the ball to him often and he is making good things happen with it. It is a big challenge for our defensive front after Maurice Morris had some success against them. We've got significant challenges ahead and yet, we are still confident that we can be a good football team. We've accomplished some good things in the early portion of our season, but now we've got to get down to playing very aggressively and playing very well each and every Saturday if we expect to have any kind of success."

(On the team not having played their best game yet): "We need to develop a 'best game attitude,' there's no question. We have not played as well as I believe we are capable. That's an indictment of all of us. So, we've got to recommit ourselves to developing into a good football team."

(On the running game): "We ran probably five or six options in the game, so it wasn't as if we didn't try. We were successful on most of them, but we got so behind in the field position portion of the game that it was very difficult to call a more flamboyant offense. You risk a big loss and in that portion of the field, you can't afford it. Unfortunately, we were forced to maintain a real conservative tone in the play calling until the clock became such that we couldn't afford to do it anymore. We had to get out of there. I thought our offense played pretty valiantly considering where they started every time. And that's credit to Oregon's special teams as well as their defense in keeping us pinned down."

(On the passing game): "I don't mean to say that we don't need to improve in all facets. We are dealing with a great deal of inexperience in our wide receiver corp. Because of the inexperience, we are not always on the same page with our quarterback. Our passing percentages are way off from a year ago and we've got to figure out how we are going to go back and be efficient in the throwing game. While that is being said, we need to develop some down hill running games so we can keep ourselves out of the third down and long situations that have been traditionally difficult, not just for us, but for everybody. It goes without saying that it takes everybody to fix what's broken. We are going to try and address that right away and see if we can't play a much better game on offense this week. We are playing against maybe one of the better defenses in our conference. These guys fly around and are at least as fast as any defense in our conference and have not given up a lot of points."

(On the injury status of TE Kevin Ware): "Kevin Ware will be out of this week's game. He has an ankle sprain that will probably keep him out for the next two weeks. We hope to have him back for the Cal game. Joe Collier will step into his role and John Westra will become the third tight end."

(On the status of Wilbur Hooks): "We are going to get word today and if not, then by tomorrow morning, that he is going to be cleared. All of his tests on Friday were negative, which was great news. His family came in and they were all tested to make sure there wasn't anything hereditary. It has been an ordeal for Wilbur, but I think he is excited that it is hopefully now behind him and that he will be able to return to action. We can't get confirmation on that until we hear from the doctors. It sounds as positive as it can sound right now."

(On the parity in college football): "I think there are two things. First, the limitations of scholarships make it so that there are players for everybody. And secondly, the restrictions on the academic requirements of kids and the rising standard of the non-qualifier. Where it used to 2.0 (GPA) and 700 (SAT), it is now 2.5 and, although recentered, 820. It is certainly a better student that becomes the marginal kid. Now there are a lot of kids having to go to junior college. If you look at the rosters of the top 10 teams, I'll bet you are going to find, with a few exceptions, a host of junior college players. And if you look at the teams that are becoming the so-called rising stars, there are going to be a host of junior college players. Junior colleges are just stocked with better players now because they can't get into Division 1 out of high school because of the rules. I don't know that when you are building a program how much you want it just to be junior college players, but certainly people are able to fix things and patch holes a lot faster than they once were. It's because there are that many more talented people out there who were unable to get into the Division 1 arena in their first chance."

(On last year's game vs. Oregon State in Corvallis): "We were the beneficiaries of good old fashion luck. I shouldn't say luck, we were playing hard, we were stripping the ball, it came out and it bounced to us. Bounces in this game sometimes go your way and sometimes they don't. The bounces that day all went our way, at least in the first half. I haven't been associated with a game like that. It was an unusual setting because I was nervous going into the ball game. They were playing very well, I think they had one of the first full houses in a number of years and a very talented team that had taken USC to the wire a year ago. I hope that our team doesn't look back on that and think that there is any reason not to give this team their full attention this year. This team is 4-0 for a reason, they are a very good football team."

(On OSU Head Coach Dennis Erickson): "He is a good football coach. He has been in places where he's been able to get the people who need to know and understand what it takes to be successful. He is a very good X and O guy and obviously, his players enjoy playing for him. There is no question that he is one of the best in our profession."

(On Washington's fourth quarter effort): "I was very proud of the way our team fought back in that game. There were chances to just fold up the tents and just head on home. There were lots of opportunities to do that and yet no one did. We fought like mad and with two minutes left, we had a chance to go down and tie the game. We didn't do it and we are disappointed that we didn't, but I do not doubt the resilience or the fight in my team. We just have to execute better and we also learned a tremendous lesson playing in that environment. I had not been to Eugene since 1992 and they have quite a home-field arena that requires attention. We will be better suited for it the next time we go."

(On having a bye week and the loss of momentum): "You never evaluate until after your game. You could make that statement but it doesn't get us anywhere. The bottom line is we had a week off, we thought we had a good plan, they were ready for whatever we did and they outplayed us and they got the victory. It's up to us to fix what's broken and play better this weekend."

(On Washington's field position): "There was lots of offense that never got called."

(On changes in the running game): "I'm going to give Rich Alexis some time. We are going to get him into the mix. That's not to say any of the guys aren't doing a good job. Paul Arnold averaged almost five yards a carry against a very good run defense. But, I would just like to get a bigger player into the ball game and see. I just think that Rich will be able to give us some sledgehammer type yards that maybe we were missing with the departure of Mo Shaw."

(On Rich Alexis' performance against Oregon): "We tried to check a play and he never got told what the play was. Marques (Tuiasosopo) told Pat Conniff and Pat thought he told Rich, but we had a lot of people on that play who didn't know what they were doing because it was impossible to hear. Pat Conniff played the entire game without hearing Marques say one word at the line of scrimmage and he's three yards behind him. So, to try and check a play at third down and two was ill-advised, we should have just run the play."

(On choosing Rich Alexis over Braxton Cleman): "Rich is just a more physical runner."

(On the starting spot at running back): "We are still thinking Paul Arnold, but we are going to look at them in practice this week and decide later."

(On the performance of the team as a whole): "I think whenever you are not doing well, rather than point at one particular player or particular facet, you just talk about the entire thing because everything evolves around each other. If the running game is going, the passing game will go. You've got to stay ahead of the down and distance and if you are not, then everybody is at fault. Our quick throwing game was not where it needs to be. We are not playing as an offense nearly well enough to be where we want to be as a football team. That is an indictment of me, to start, an indictment of our offensive coaches and our offensive players. And that's not to say our defense can't do better. We are in this together and I am going to get a chance to talk to the team and basically we just need to recommit. We are 3-1. Where we sit right now, giving the schedule that we have played, that is not poor, giving who we are and what we set out to do. There is a sense after every defeat that everything is bad. There is a sense to sometimes overreact. I don't want to overreact to a loss at a place where they have won 18 in a row. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. What I do want to do is to circle the wagons and fix everything that can be fixed and that is from all of our standpoints. I want to have a sense that everyone is fired up to finish up the rest of the season and it starts this weekend with Oregon State. We are going to go play our best game and see if we can get on track and win this one. If we can win this week, we are 4-1 and feeling good again. The bottom line is that we have got to go into this game with a sense of urgency much like we had when things weren't going well a year ago."

(On team intensity at Oregon): "I thought we fought like mad. Maybe at the beginning because we had told them to expect the unexpected, especially our defense. We had told them to expect the trick plays and all that kind of stuff because it was their tendency. Maybe we were a little bit on our heels at the onset of the ball game, but I do not think we backed down one inch in that ball game. I think that running the ball in an environment when you can't hear the snap count, they are the first off the line of scrimmage. And if they are first off the line of scrimmage, it is very difficult to be running down hill."

(On the Oregon crowd): "Certainly the crowd had lots to say and it had nothing to do with us. The idea was to stay focused, keep your eyes ahead and get ready to play. Our kids were excited to play, we just didn't play well enough to get a win."

(On the remainder of the season): "I don't think it's time to call ourselves a bad team. We have had some great moments so far this season and to have more, we need to improve. The focus needs to be on improving."

(On the key to the OSU game): "Much like Coach Erickson, I think stopping the opponents running game is where you begin with success. And we have got to do a better job with field position. We have got to do some things to keep ourselves from starting so far down in our home."

(On the environment at Husky Stadium): "Our crowd was sensational (against Miami) and I hope they will be sensational again this weekend. It is clear there is a lot of passion for college football in the Northwest."

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