Nov. 5, 2002
General Comments: "We find ourselves in a place where I don't think we envisioned ourselves to be. Coach Erickson just said, 'we are where we are', but there's still many things left to play for. For that reason I expect a great effort from our football team. I know our coaching staff is looking forward to putting together a great plan for a very, very talented Oregon State team that's kind of finding itself right now. In the last two weeks, they've played very, very well, especially on defense. While there will be those who will image that we'll come apart, I don't think that will be the case. I think our guys will fight. I think we had great effort on Saturday night, just had too many mistakes to be victorious. We have to do a great job of coaching this week and we can try to eliminate those mistakes, still get the great effort, and hopefully find a way to win. A win would give us a fifth win for the season before we embark on our last road trip with two games left. It would give a win over a Northwest opponent, it would give us a great send off to seniors in their last Husky home game, all things that are hopefully motivators for our squad as well as just finding a way to get a win. When you're suffering defeat in the way that we have each of the last three weeks, there's only one way to get that taste out of your mouth and that's to come out and play a great football game. Hopefully we'll get a great crowd. I was really pleased with how the crowd got behind our football team in the fourth quarter of the game against UCLA and we're sorry we couldn't reward them with a victory. I'm looking forward to the Oregon State game, our last home game and hopefully we'll get a big and much needed win."
On finding positives from season: "All of your experience helps create who you are. Certainly the disappointment that we're suffering right now, if we continue to work and continue to invest and continue to do the things that all football teams need to do to be successful, then there will be a benefit. It could be in the near future or the long future, it remains to be seen. There will definitely be benefit. You get from things what you put in. Hopefully we have a lot of people who are still very vested in this program. I believe that to be the case as evidence by the effort on Saturday night and I continue to see us fight all the way through the end of this, but it's been a disappointing year."
On Northwest rivalries: "It really, at this point doesn't make much difference who we play, as important as it is to try and gain victory. Obviously, they're a great traditionally rivalry for the next three weeks. Games that have a lot of geographic significance in respect to the fan base and people knowing people from each of the different regions and so forth. Given the history of these rivalries, each of the next three opponents will be taking their best shots at knocking us into oblivion that will just be the case. It'll take a tremendous amount of effort and a tremendous amount of pride to stand up and not just to toe-to-toe, but find ways to win."
On effectiveness of offense and special teams: "Unfortunately, it's been too heavily relied upon because of our inconsistency in the running game, plus our inability to get ahead in a ballgame and maintain a lead. We find ourselves seven, ten points behind almost on a weekly basis, it kind of gives you the feeling you have to get yourself back in. We fought our way back in to the game in the fourth quarter and had a chance to go ahead, unfortunately did not get that accomplished. The problem in the throwing game right now is; one, we have to protect better and make sure we do a better job of giving our quarterback time to get the ball out, then we have to make great decisions when we do throw it and not throw it to the opposing team. There's one thing that's killed us, it's field position of the ballgames. Our average starting place on Saturday night was our own twenty-three yard line. Our opponents are starting somewhere around the forty yard line. That's been the case in each of the last two. Our defense, when you look at the numbers hasn't played poorly, it's actually done pretty well, but the bottom line is, we've given up too many chunks of yardage with respect to field position. So our massing great yardage totals, we're not getting the benefit of points because we're sputtering out when we get down there close. It's been a difficult year in that regard. Special teams has an impact on the field position as well. We're not producing in the special teams department. Our punter has not performed well, our kick coverage teams gave up some yards. Those are some things, earlier in the year we were doing pretty well. Unfortunately, of late, it's become problematic. We have to really address that this week so that we can play a great field position game this weekend."
On John Anderson punting: "I'm going to give him the opportunity to win that job this week, yes."
On looking forward to the rest of the season: "We have three weeks left in our season. Obviously, there's a great motivator in that Washington hasn't had a losing season in a number of years. We'd like to keep that streak alive. To do that, we have to win two of the next three. We're trying to take them one at a time. We have a very, very tall order this week in playing a tough Oregon State, maybe the best defense in the conference. We have to get after them as best we can."
On Tim Galloway's taking playing time from Ben Mahdavi: "We roll linebackers by series. We feel like Tim Galloway is playing well and deserves playing time. Rather than taking guys in and out, and in and out, we'd rather leave guys in and let them get a feel for the game. That's why Tim was in the game. Trying to give players to get the chance to participate. If you noticed also, Joe Lobendahn went in the first series to replace Marquis Cooper, so it isn't just a one guy deal. Ben's doing fine."
On running back situation: "Singleton will start this week and Braxton dinged his knee a little bit in the game. I'm not sure what his availability will be, but I hope that Rich Alexis will return."
On what needs improvement: "I think all of us have to do a better job of utilizing our personnel and our personnel, when given the chance has to make plays. We were in position to make lots of plays on Saturday night. I also think that what's true is that when you're pressing, which is certainly the case in your program with high expectations on a yearly basis and you find yourself in this situation that you aren't as free mentally to make the kind of plays that might normally occur on a regular basis. Everybody's trying so hard to make a play that it becomes more of a conscious effort than a subconscious effort. You don't flow in the same regard, there's certainly some of that going on. There are some uncharacteristic things that have happened that we've been making for a long time around here. It's been one of those years. You can't sit there and say it's been bad luck. You have to keep working at it and trying to create more turnovers and hopefully this will be the week."
On Jimmy Newell's injury status: "He is probably lost for the season. It's unfortunate. We'll find out if it is torn or if it is a grade two PCL injury, which is a ligament in the knee. Hopefully he will be back for spring practice and be full speed by next fall. Like all the other injuries in the secondary, it has an effect. We have to move other positions. Evan Benjamin played pretty well other than a couple plays and James Sims. Hopefully we will get Greg Carothers back at the safety position."
On Evan Benjamin: "I thought he did a nice job of stepping up into the box and making some great tackles. There were some plays early in the game when he missed an opportunity to make a tackle. The first play of the game, he got blocked by the official, he blocked right up into him and it resulted in a 22-yard run. He's learning as freshman. For most of the game against UCLA, we played three freshman and a sophomore in the back end. I thought they played pretty admirably given the experience"
On what is going through his head at this point in the season: "Like I said weeks before, no one puts more pressure on me than myself and because of that it's difficult when things aren't going well and you keep searching for the answers and keep looking for the right thing to say or the right personnel move or the right scheme that is going to unlock all the misery and let it all go away. Usually it isn't one thing, it's a combination of things and it takes a little bit more than one week of preparation to get it all fixed. You have to stay the course and you have to keep fighting and you have to keep going. I thought we had tremendous effort on Saturday night and we were in position to win and it would have been a great win for the program. But it didn't happen so we now have to reinvest this week and I look forward to doing that. But in terms of the big picture, I was asked yesterday by one of the writers on how it is for my family as if there is a black cloud hanging over our home or following my kids to school, it's not like that and nor can it be. This is important stuff. This is what I do and I have been entrusted to carry a program and make people proud of the program from a variety of standpoints, mainly winning. While that is all difficult, you can't lose sight of that the sun is going to come up every day, the kids are still trying and coaches are still giving everything they got. As I said to the writer who asked, I'm still one of the luckiest people in the world, that is the way it is. Even though it looks as if it is a miserable existence, bottom line is that it is a tremendous challenge and that is the way you have to look at it. I will never look at it as though I am a failure. I'm not going to do that. I'm doing everything I can to work to get this thing going in the right direction and will continue to do so as long as I am given the opportunity and I'm going to continue to be optimistic. I'm going to continue to believe in the kids and coaches that I have until I see fit to change in any of those regards. Bottom line is, I've got a great opportunity this week to hopefully right the ship so we are going to try as hard as we can to do that."
On if he is taking the time to figure out what has gone wrong: "Well I don't know if this it the time to do that. I think now is the time to try and win this week. To do that kind of soul searching and evaluation is a timely process or time consuming process. I don' know that I have that kind of time as we try to play the rest of our season. I am still hopeful of good things to happen. There will be a time for that and I'll do all of that and I'll probably be asked that question more than one time between now and then."
On the execution of the team this year: "Ultimately when your team is not performing at the level you what them at, execution is almost always the case. Whether it is because of physical deficiencies or lack of concentration or poor coaching, all of those things can attribute to that. The bottom line is, we have to execute. We have the ball first down and goal at the six yard line, we don't score a touchdown. I don't think there is anyone who is going to get in the huddle and scream at everybody and all of the sudden every body is going to flip a switch and be somebody that they weren't up to that series of downs. I don't feel like there is a lack of leadership causing us to lose our games. I don't feel that way. Now again, I am going to have ample time to look at all the things that have gone on in this program in the last twelve months and figure out exactly how we arrived here and how we are going to get out of it. But right now, we've got to execute. We had an opportunity to score on that series of downs and we didn't and you can pick any series of downs and if it didn't go as we wanted, it was usually because there was poor execution."
On what it is like to get through weekly press conferences: "It is kind of an occupational hazard I guess. If a banker has a bad day, there is usually the budget people asking them why. In the world I live in, there is going to be constant questions as to why and frankly everyone who gets into it understands that and I don't hold any animosity towards it. You just do the best you can. I refuse to lose my optimism. I refuse to lose my feel that good things can happen. If we'll work and put the elbow grease towards the desired end, we'll get there. Maybe not as quickly as people will hope and people might demand, but bottom line is, everybody comes to work, nobody closes their door and cries tears of self pity. We just work and keep going and we've all got lots to be thankful for. It isn't a situation that calls for doom and despair."
On the fan's reaction to this season: "I put it to you. I haven't heard one person come up to me and say your team quit. I haven't heard one person come up to me and say you're not playing hard. I've had people come up and say you didn't punt very well. I've had people come up and say you dropped some balls, you can't run the ball, you're playing lousy tackle defense and those things statistics point to. The point of the matter is, no one has said we had to play hard. You look at every game, our guys fight to the bitter end. In the world that you live, where there are no concessions, it's either did you or didn't you, you're not going to talk about that. But from where I sit, that is one of the most important things. We've got kids that continue to believe, to fight, to try and trust one another. Ultimately, if you don't have that, you have no chance. Because we had that, we had ample chance against UCLA and it just didn't turn out. The last thing I hate is to feel like I am being defensive. I really do not want to be defensive because I understand your side of the fence. You have stories to write, editorials to publish and there is going to be public demand, cries for the viewpoint of what needs to be changed. But when it comes to the program and whether the kids are doing what they are asked to do and whether they are trying, then I do get a little defensive because I believe in my heart of hearts that they do do what we ask, that they try as hard as they can. Does it always work perfectly? No, it doesn't. We are suffering the consequences because it isn't working perfectly, But there is no fault in effort."
On making plays but not catching breaks: "I think we make lots of plays. If I looked at the game the other night we made lots of plays, we just didn't catch a break. They scored two touchdowns. One with a one-yard gain and one on an interception return and that was good football by UCLA. That is not to say that they didn't play well to create those turnovers. But we have, I don't know how many yards of offense. For whatever reason we didn't execute to the point where we were getting those kind of plays. They fumble the ball they get it back. We're just not catching a break and that can kind of get us over the hump where we stop pressing so hard. Football is a great game and you coach as hard as you can and we caught lots of breaks over that last two or three years and accepted all of the commentary that said how well we were doing. Now we are not catching breaks and things are a little tougher and we are getting it on the chin every now and then and we have to accept the criticism that accompanies that. It isn't that we worked harder or smarter then than we are working now. It is that we have had some things that have caught up with us that we have to fix."