Oct. 4, 1999
October 4, 1999 Washington vs. Oregon State
General Remarks: "We are thrilled with our start in Pac-10 play. We feel good about the victory as I'm sure everybody would, but as is always the case when you get into conference play your celebration better not last too long because somebody's waiting around the corner to wallop you if you're not ready and certainly Oregon State is that kind of team. They have shown in the first several weeks of the season they can play with anybody, that they are very proficient at moving the ball both on the ground and in the air. Simonton is a gifted player. He's gone over 100 yards in every one of his games, and Coach Erickson is one of the architects at being able to spread you out and throw the ball down the field. So this is a tall order for our defense and given the proficiency that AJ Feeley had against us it is going to take some improvement throughout the week as we get prepared to play the Beavers. Offensively we need to continue to strive to get better. We looked at the films and as a whole we were pleased with our ability at the line of scrimmage. There certainly were some missed opportunities that have to be corrected and have to be corrected quickly if we expect to stay competitive in this league. And also we're going to have to do some hard work to get ourselves back to being the kind of special teams outfit that we envisioned ourselves to be at the beginning of the season. It wasn't good enough in either of the last two weeks in terms of our ability to tackle and make big plays with regard to the teams. So we're going to have to go back to the drawing board and make sure we get better. Hopefully our kicker will improve. He's a youngster and we're all going to have days like that and hopefully his day is behind him and we keep that to a singular cause we're going to need him to knock the ball through when we have the opportunity.
On the identity of the offense:: "Well as I have said we are still a work in progress. We are not where we need to be and I'm not sure we will be where we need to be anytime real soon. It's evolutionary but I do like the attitudes the kids are coming to work with. I like the intensity that we're getting in the practice field and we as coaches need to make sure that does not diminish in any way, shape or form cause it's critical to our success. We are not talented enough to go out and just show up and beat anybody in this conference. Every game is going to be a close game and we better understand that going in."
On the progress of offensive line:: "Certainly when you have the kind of productivity that we've had the last couple weeks you have to start with the offensive line and it's a credit to all those kids that are involved as well as their coach Keith Gilbertson. They are all doing a nice job in terms of understanding the schemes and executing the schemes and playing with an attitude that typifies that kind of attack. I'm pleased with all of them, and yet I don't want to pat them on the back too much because it's time to go back to work and continue to improve because we're going to have to if we're going to stay competitive in this conference."
On ball control:: "It's a little unusual that you would be able to control the ball but certainly it was our hope that we'd be able to. It does two things. It helps when you can create an attitude on offense and you create more of a desperate attempt on the part of the defense to gang up on the ball and then your play action starts to work. The other thing that it does is it keeps your defense off the field and it allows your defense to make the adjustments on the sideline and get rested and get back with intensity and while our defense is resting so is their offense and sometimes their offense can get a little impatient because they haven't been on the field very much so it can create some opportunities as well."
On comparison to offense at Colorado: : "Normally at Colorado we had more of a quick strike capabilities. We had lots of one, two, three play drives that ended up in scores and we had some that didn't end up in much either but we were able to get the ball up the field and that's not really our personality right now."
On establishing a philosophy:: "I said all along that I'm not married to any philosophy . The job of a head coach is to do the best he can with what he has to produce the results we all look forward to which is to have more points than the opponent and to do that you have to look at what you have and go forward. We need to have a philosophy as we go on so we can recruit to it and get the kind of people that can produce in the system that we envision but where we are now is where we are and its important that we give our kids the best chance possible."
On Lester Towns:: "I'm really pleased for Lester. He's under a great deal of pressure. When kids enter their fifth year especially coming off injury there are all kinds of question marks about how he will respond and so on and a lot are physical but some are psychological. You have to get used to the fact that 'I'm healthy again. I don't have to protect my foot anymore' It s like walking with a limp. You walk with a limp so long that its hard to walk without it . Coach Hundley has been good in terms of talking to him but Lester took it upon himself that its time to play and play as well as possible and if we can continue to get this kind of effort and productivity from him than we'll get much better productivity from our defense in the next couple weeks."
On competition for starting jobs:: "For the most part I think they responded but that's going to be an every week deal. It s hard to come to the end of ones career and realize that there are people that are passing you but but that's reality. The competition is such that if you are being by-passed by a younger player you have to understand that and there may be nothing that seems fair about but the only fair way to judge competition is that it goes to the one playing the best so we can continue to make these evaluations."
On Willie Hurst:: "When you're watching somebody run you can detect that hesitancy and that favoritism that one gives to something that's not exactly right. I know his competitive zeal wanted to be healthy and said he was for BYU and Air Force although at Air Force he didn't play much but I think he's ready to go now and with Braxton coming back I think we have a nice situation at tailback with some guys that are all anxious to play and play well. I think Paul Arnold is still on schedule. I know everyone wants him to have that 90 yard run so everyone can crown him the back of the future and that may be coming but I think Paul is productive, he's learning and doesn't see this as anything even close to a wasted year for him and I think he's right where he needs to be. I'm also pleased about the resurgence of Maurice Shaw both as a tailback and a fullback. Along with that Pat Coniff won our offensive player of the game award so I feel like things are going well. We need to continue to work with some urgency, attention to detail and take care of the little things so we can continue to improve as a football team."
On the option:: "I think the option changes things in terms of how people play fronts. The idea that the quarterback can be around the corner and cause damage while he's there makes people play contained and when people play contained it creates more air inside. And that's what offenses are designed to do is inflate what defenses do so there's air for skilled athletes to get through."
On comfort with option:: "My comfort level has never been anti-option or pro option. My comfort level is playing to win and finding ways to do that however strategically you think is the best way. I'm very fortunate to have a great coaching staff that implement the ideas that are put forth that make sense on the board and now we can coach it and go do it."
On running back competition:: "Its competition and it's the best of all situations. When there's competition for playing time that means there's competition in practice and when there's competition in practice that means you get great practice and when you get great practice that means you usually get great results. Both kids know they're capable of doing it and its important now that both of them practice with that zeal and we'll look forward to hopefully great results again on Saturday."
On limited practice time with option:: "You cannot serve two masters so it's important that we complement ourselves with every move we make. You can't add something without subtracting something because your hours are finite so its important that if we expect it to be good that it gets the proper attention and it has dimensions off it, counter ability off it That's kind of my role as the head coach as you over see it that it has dimensions to it and you force the defense to play the whole field so we can keep our air. We are not necessarily staying away from any facet of our offense, we are just trying to get better at what we do."
On Dennis Erickson:: " I know Dennis only in brief introductory type settings. Obviously he's a legend in the coaching ranks and as I said he's an architect at the spread offense and has had great success, he's had a national championship. This guy is pretty darn good at what he does. I first met him as an assistant at UCLA. I'd come up with Terry Donahue to help coach with a clinic here in Seattle and Dennis was kind of holding court at the clinic site and I remember thinking I was in the presence of someone pretty important. He's a very genuine person. All the people that hail from that coaching fraternity on the Northwest speak of him in reverent tones and they all point to him as the ringleader of that entire group of guys."
On problems in secondary:: " Well we've got to cover. We've played two teams that major in the throwing game and both have carved us up so we've got to cover. We were a little bit over-matched at times when we tried to get out there and just cover. Hopefully we'll get better as the weeks go on. We certainly aren't going to get any new players or anything like that . This is who we are and I have confidence in these kids and we have to coach that we have confidence in these kids rather than have them go out and play passively, not that they are playing passively but I want to encourage them and believe that they can get these things accomplished because I believe we can. We've got to cover and its not going to change as we get further into this conference. We've got some skilled teams coming up and we've got to play well in that secondary."
On rushing defense:: " You get nervous when you're playing teams with 100 yard rushers that do it every week but for the most part our running defense has been pretty sound. People point out our lack of pressure to the quarterback and say what you will but the truth of the matter is your playing teams that get rid of the ball pretty quickly so I'm more worried about the coverage. I think our front is doing a nice job handling the run. I don't think our yards per carry is too far out of line certainly there's room for improvement on both sides of the ball but I think our defense is going to improve especially if we get to play a lot of the same packages on a weekly basis."
On Anthony Vonture:: "I talked to Anthony yesterday and gave him a list of things to accomplish to reinstate his playing status with our team and he has accomplished all of those things so I am reinstating him and he will begin practicing again tomorrow."
On possibility of redshirting Paul Arnold in future:: " You never make those kind of decision now, I believe in the theory that you never know when you're winning or you're losing. Paul has been working hard and he will be in the mix and he will be competitive. You look at him right now he's about 195 pounds and he's never lifted a weight in his life but natural strength he can go in and impress you. When he gets a full season under his belt and comes back at about 220 pounds I think you're going to have a really dominant type of player and its not that Braxton and Willie cant compete with him it means you'll have a player that will be very known in terms of what his potential is."
On Ken Simonton:: " I think he's a gifted player. He brings a lot to the table for them. When Dennis Erickson has a gifted running back he's hard to stop when you're holding the chalk on the other side cause he's got a little of everything. They do a thing that's called Count the Box meaning how may guys are in the tackle to tackle area and the numbers are such that if they can block them all then Simonton is on his way. When you put one extra in there then you have a problem with them throwing the ball down the field because you're showing that your you're not covering him down or you're playing man-to-man, and you're gambling, so those are the kind of things their offense forces you into because of their formations."
On scrambling of Marques Tuiasosopo:: "I have a lot of confidence in Marques and his ability and his decision making and it doesn't mean that he's going to be right all the time. He is going to continue to improve an store these pictures that are plays and file them away so he'll make better decisions the next time. We are not out of the woods with respect to him having to learn things. A she continues to improve we're going to see him make more and more of these plays. His best play against Oregon was the third-and-one where we were running the dive option and they jumped it and he went behind the guard and got a yard and a half and those are the things that coaches don't draw up. That's just an athlete making a play."
On special teams:: "We feel like it's a necessity based on the need for speed. We've got to have speed on the field with special teams or your going to get burned and we've got to step up the intensity on those team so it's not a play off for your offense or your defense. It has to be a time when everything's 100 miles per hour. We can get that done. We've got to pay attention to it and make sure it gets accomplished this week."
On motivation for Oregon State:: " I know they believe in Coach Erickson cause he's done it. By all accounts whether you play for him or coach with he'll always be popular with his troops and so they'll have a lot of confidence in him and his system so they'll play as hard as anybody we'll play all year and we need to understand that. The early success being 3 -1 puts them in great opportunity to compete not only for the Pac-10 title but also a bowl game that has been evading them the last couple years so they have some real things to shoot for. Obviously the way the game, went down last year- going for two with no time on the clock- presents another thing to be excited about playing the Huskies so there's lots of motivation. More than anything for us is that this is the Pac-10 and if we don't strap it on your gong to get your tail handed to you. Were excited about the last two weeks but the bottom line is we're 2-2. We got one vote in the coaches poll. We don't need to beak our arm patting ourselves on the back. We need to continue work and hopefully good things will happen."
On play calling:: "Karl calls them. He's the coordinator. At the conclusion of every drive we have a debriefing. This is what's working, this is what happened with the motion and what we can do to counter that. My job is to make sure there's balance is our sets, our personnel grouping, our first down calls, and make sure we're making them cover field. It's also my job to make sure Karl knows we're in four down territory. Its important he always knows how many downs he's dealing with. Given who we are we're going to be in four down situations a lot his year. We've gone for fourth downs on a number of occasions and we'll continue to do that."
On penalties:: " It's exasperating. The game's in the balance and you need to effectively take the clock off and it looked like we could control it by getting three or four yards a crack and top make it a fifteen yard deal is putting yourself in an uphill situations and two times it was an illegal procedure on is and I'm not sure exactly why that happened but we've got to work hard to make sure those things happen. We cannot be our own worst enemy and yet when I look at the total number of penalties we had seven and I don't think that's out of whack for a 60 minute game so I don't feel like its a problem that's pervasive across the board I just think we need to focus in and that comes down to coaching and we're going to work on it.."