Rick Neuheisel Prepares For Colorado
Sept. 11, 2000
General Remarks: "It is exciting to be here looking forward to another huge game. We learned a lot about ourselves in last weekend's game against Miami. We learned that we can hang in there with the very best around. Certainly, we did not play error-free, the mistakes are glaring, but we were able to overcome them enough to win. I agree with coach Barnett's comments about the factor that our crowd played. They were excellent and hats off to the Husky fans. Going into Colorado, we will face a team that is going to be very hungry. They are very skilled and have many psychological advantages in terms of preparing for the contest. They will have a home crowd very much like the Husky crowd this past Saturday. It'll be a great test for our team to play in a tough environment and if we are going to accomplish our goals we are going to have to learn how to play on the road."
On Marcus Houston: "I know Marcus pretty well because he used to come over to campus when I coached at Colorado. He played in one of our jamborees and I remember saying to one of our assistant coaches that he was going to be a great player. I don't know that I am clairvoyant in predicting that because it was pretty evident to everyone watching that he was a great player. He is a magnificent performer and one of the better tailbacks in the country thus far."
On Colorado Personnel: "I still know the players that I recruited. They are great kids. I've said all along that I valued my time at Colorado immensely. I met a lot of great people and the highlight of the deal was getting to coach the great student-athletes. The ones that I do know I wish nothing but the best."
On the Emotion of Returning to Colorado: "Well, there is always going to be emotion associated with a return, especially to a place where there were so many great memories. It was a great experience and it will be neat to go back there. I don't anticipate a real love fest, but a well-fought game. We've got an interesting story line in that a year ago we were 0-2 and we had to concentrate on playing really well. Now we find Colorado in the same situation and yet a very good team. It will be very important that our players know their history. I had a great experience at Colorado and if people are bitter that I left, that is just a part of college football. There is a lot of passion in college football and if the passion manifests itself in distaste for me I have got big enough shoulders to handle it. But again, I think we just need to focus on the game and let the players play the game. "
On Coaching in Colorado: "I learned a lot about coaching there because it was there that I cut my teeth. There is no question that if you pay attention you will learn and hopefully I did that. I am still learning, it is not as if I am a finished product, I hope to get better every week."
On Colorado This Year vs. Last: "Coach Barnett talked about their rushing game. Certainly they look like they know what they are doing when they are running the ball. They are physical up front. Marcus Houston has given them another dimension, although Cortlen Johnson is a sensational player too. I got to watch him last year in the bowl game on television and he was a very exciting player. They have a couple of new quarterbacks so their passing game is probably not where they want it, but it will be shortly because they have talented wide receivers and a gifted tight end in Dan Graham. Defensively, they are filling in some holes. Graduation hit their secondary so they have some inexperience, although plenty of talent. I don't see a lot of holes, but guys who are learning the ropes."
On Marques Tuiasosopo: "I get to spend a lot of time with Marques and I will tell you this, I would never trade him. He is a big-time player for us. He competes like a warrior and I am happy he is on our team. I was very interested in him when I was at Colorado. I knew his father really well from UCLA. Marques was in a wishbone offense in high school and it was a little hard to see how he was as a passer on tape. We loved him as an athlete and we told him that if it didn't work out with him as a quarterback we would put him at safety or linebacker. He took that to mean that maybe my interests were elsewhere and he went to Washington. I'm glad it worked out the way it did."
On Using Videotape for Recruiting: "You definitely lose faith in solely losing videotape for recruiting. I made a vow to myself after seeing Marques play in the game against Nebraska after Brock Huard got hurt, that I would always check a player out firsthand. We are trying to make sure that happens."
On Beating Miami: "It was a big win. Any time you play a team with the caliber of Miami, the storied history that they have, you want to use that to build your program. Hopefully that will have implications in recruiting and enthusiasm for our program. But in terms of for the season it has to be taken in context in that we learn and improve from it. We look at all of the things on tape that we could do better. We look at the things that broke down in the end of the game and make sure our kids understand how to execute their assignments."
On Colorado Psychological Advantages: "Well, it is a return match. Return matches always bring out the best in competitive teams and knowing that team as well as I do, they are going to give us our best. They will fight to the bitter end. The other thing is that we are coming off a very emotional win and there is a human tendency to relax and to want to take a little bit of a rest, so I worry about that incessantly. We can not afford to take one step back. If anything, we need to take our emotional level even higher. Those are some issues that need to be discussed. The final thing is the history. A year ago we were 0-2 and we walked away with a victory, so it is exactly the reverse situation."
On Victory Followed by Defeat: "I thought Oregon State last year where we had the great half and coasted in the second half was a situation where we relaxed too much. ASU had got beaten handily at Notre Dame and they came in here and whipped us. You don't have to look very far back to realize when that happened. Arizona was a huge, emotional victory in Tucson and then we played flat the next week against UCLA and lost. And lost a chance to win the conference. So there were two times last year when this happened. Hopefully our team is mature enough to realize this and I think they will see this after looking at the tapes."
On Ossim Hatem: "Losing Ossim Hatem is a blow to our team. He played 30-some odd plays against Miami, and played really well. He was kind of coming into his own as a defensive lineman, so given that we are not very deep at that position anyway, it is a great loss."
On Mistakes from Saturday: "The glaring mistakes, I could go across the board. You could call out any position and I could tell you what we are not doing well enough. I thought our defense played excellent in the first half against Miami and in the second we got a little casual. We didn't line up with the same discipline and became careless on our gap assignments. Also, our tackling was poor. I don't know if it was fatigue or just wanting to get the game over with, but their tailback made us look bad on two 60-yard plays. On the offensive side of the ball we had chances to put the game away and we blew our protection and turned the ball over. In the final moments, I made a mistake by throwing the ball in the first place, but two of our players totally bust. One of our guys didn't even line up right which blew a 40-yard run. Those are things that can not happen."
On the Tailback Position: "What happens in our sport because it is so highly publicized is that it creates debate as to who should be the guy. And until the guy surfaces it doesn't make any sense to me to pick one. We have a rotation that we will stick with and all four of these guys are trying to get better. That means learning the offense, learning the schemes, and hitting the holes. Just because there is talk about it, doesn't mean you should change how you are approaching the position. There is competition, but until someone clearly wins it, it will be shared."
On Playing Freshmen: "I think when you take the approach that freshmen will play, you go with that and let them play. It looks like Colorado got good production from Marcus Houston on the road just as they had at home. You've got to let them go. They will make freshman mistakes but you've just got to help them get corrected."
On Rich Alexis: "Rich had a wonderful run, but it might've been the best blocked play I've ever seen in college football. That's not meant to take away from Rich's accomplishment nor to say that we are not excited, even giddy in what we have in him. But he is new to football and we will bring him along at the right pace."
On Ryan Fleming: "I think Ryan Fleming is a good punter, but he had a bad day. He had a bad day a year ago prior to the Cal game and he responded really well by out-kicking their All-American punter Nick Harris. I'm going to rely on the competitive spirit of Ryan and know he will bounce back."
On Derrell Daniels: "Derrell Daniels has led us in tackles almost every game since I have been here. He is a magnificent football player. You have to about scream at him to get him to say anything because he is such quiet young man. But he is, without question, one of our most valuable football players and we are very fortunate to have him."