Head Coach Neuheisel Talks in Weekly Press Conference
Oct. 23, 2000
Weekly Press Conference
(General Remarks): "We are excited to be in the thick of things this late in the season. We are excited to be going down to play Stanford and because of the way things are shaping out in our conference, it will be a tremendous ballgame. They are playing for an opportunity to get into the postseason, we are playing for an opportunity to stay alive in the conference race. Both programs are feeling good about themselves. That is not to say there are lots of things we need to get better at and we are going to address that this afternoon when we reconvene. I am excited as can be about the finish of our season and looking forward to improving and putting together a really good game in Palo Alto."
(On the California defense): "They had a game plan for us. They really tried to take our tight end out of the game. We were able to make some plays in the throwing game. I think the thing that kept us from having a really effective offensive day was our inability to keep from getting penalties. We had some major penalties that brought the ball back after what we thought were first downs. Any time you have over a hundred yards in penalties, you are squandering a lot of offense. That is something that we have really got to try to fix."
(On the officiating): "It was an unusual game in the number (of penalties). If you believe in the theory that you could call holding on every play in every game, then it was an unusual game in that there were a lot of them."
(On being a fourth quarter team): "The personality of our team is one where we feel it out and all the sudden something happens that ticks us off and all the sudden we go crazy. It wasn't that way against Miami. We came out of the blocks and really played well early in the game against Miami. I can't put my finger on it. Ultimately, it has got to be a deal where kids want to play and want to play really badly and they can't wait to get outside and do it. Usually it takes a spark, some sort of big play. Somebody making something happen that gets everybody really excited and then we kind of go. Unfortunately we are seemingly having to wait until the fourth quarter. But, if you are going to pick a quarter you want to be good in, that would be the one you'd pick."
(On what triggered the comeback against California): "Anthony Kelley's play, knocking the ball out of (Cal quarterback Kyle) Boller's hand. That gave us life, kids were still in there fighting. A lot of teams would have given up, given that we missed the field goal and it was a two-possession game. Anthony gets us the ball back, we get some points, we get the ball back again and it just kind of took off."
(On Marques Tuiasosopo's performance against Stanford last year): "It was a remarkable game from that standpoint in that I don't think anybody was really paying attention to the individual because the game was so closely contested. It was a nip-and-tuck type of affair where whoever had the ball last was probably going to be the one who won the game. Fortunately, our defense made a stop and there was a big play Maurice Shaw had on a first or second down. It was just one of those type of games. His (Tuiasosopo's) 300 yards passing, I could relate to as a former quarterback, but the 200 yards rushing was way out of my league unless there was a minus in front of it. It was a marvelous effort. The only thing I was thinking in regards to Marques that game was his injury. He was really beaten up and was having a hard time staying mobile. Factoring that into that type of day makes it a wonderful accomplishment. But, that was yesterday and we are dealing with today now."
(On Stanford's Pac-10 title last year): "Our players have a healthy respect for everybody in this league, I truly believe that. We know that we can't just show up and expect to win games. We have to show up and play with the passion that we possess and play with enough ability so that we don't blow our chances to gain victory. Stanford is a very talented team. This isn't necessarily the same kind of magical year it was a year ago, but they just came off a real emotional victory. They've won two games now in the last minute and a half, they beat Texas on a last minute pass and beat USC on the last play of the game. So, this is an emotionally charged team that still has aspirations for postseason. They are going to play with everything they have and we've come to expect that."
(On the Stanford defense): "They play aggressively with their safeties. Both those kids are very aggressive type players and it wouldn't shock me to see that they would try to take a play out of our previous opponent's playbooks. I think we'll expect that. Aaron Focht and Tank Williams are both aggressive kids and will be up in there, they'll be involved."
(On the BCS poll): "I am about as interested in that as I am seeing the polls every week, which is not very. I know where we are and where we are relative to the teams that matter. I am a habitual viewer of ESPN's Gameday on Saturday morning and it was interesting to me as they were putting out all the scenarios for the national championship and showing all these teams that were going to come from behind, Ohio State and Florida State. Not one team from the Pac-10 was even given a mention. It was clear, watching the show, that there is a bias towards the east and I think we've known that for a long time. We are not going to worry about it. We are going to play here and see if we can't stay alive and keep winning. This is college football's version of `Survivor' and who is getting voted off the island."
(On Washington in the Pac-10 conference race): "We are alive. If you just do the math, Oregon has got to stumble because they have played flawlessly to date. But, they've got three of their last four games on the road and it isn't outside the possibility that something won't happen. What we need to do is pay attention to what we do and make sure that we're there in case there is something to be picked up."
(On Washington's close games): "I don't know that we have the type of team that is going to crush people, especially if the opponents play well, which has been the case, may with the possible exception of Arizona State having as many turnovers as we did. We are not that type of team where we're going to crush people. When we play well, we can play with anybody as we did with Miami. We beat Miami because we played well and that is what I am hoping to capture again for the last four games."
(On the Stanford quarterbacks): "(Randy) Fasani is a more experienced player. He looks more comfortable. (Back-up Chris) Lewis is a gem in the making and has shown the ability to make big plays late in games. That is nothing to ever take for granted. Fasani is a very tough, very durable, very rugged type player. I heard Coach (Tyrone) Willingham had said he was the guttiest performer on the field in Saturday's contest. You can understand why he would say that. This is a kid who is coming off a knee surgery, is out running around, making plays. He is a warrior and it wouldn't shock me at all if he will have that same kind of performance against us. We've just got to match fire with fire."
(On the approval of a year-round training table in the Pac-10): "I have said on numerous occasions that it is more than just a nutritional issue. It is a statement now made by our conference that we are willing to do what it takes to be as competitive as the other conferences in the country. There is certainly a difference of opinion as to how important it was, but ultimately, as it became more and more of a flag-waving type of issue, I think it was important to say that we are going to do this because we are going to be the best football conference in the country. We are going to go in that direction and work to get to that place. It's obvious that there is nutritional benefit gain when you are able to feed the kids that you are expecting so much effort and expenditure of energy from. You are asking them to be here, you say it is okay for them to have eight hours of off-season workouts a week and you ought to be able to feed them while they are here. We are able to do that now and monitor what they are eating. It takes away a major chip that the other conferences had against us. Having been in another conference and having used it against the Pac-10, I know that for a fact."
(On the Washington receiving game): "I think we have to get a little bit more aggressive in the pass-catching portion of it. I thought we did some good things getting open. I think we ran some disciplined routes and I think our passing game took a step forward. There were some opportunities to make some catches in the game that were difficult, but that is what is going to get us over the hump in some of these huge games as they come up."
(On FLJustin Robbins): "I am very pleased with Justin Robbins. To say that we expected that kind of performance from him as a freshman would have been a reach. Hopeful, yes, but to expect it, would have been a reach. I think he's coming through and yet I think he has lots of room for improvement. I think his upside is tremendous."
(On FL Todd Elstrom): "Todd has been nagged with some injuries. He is a very, very competitive kid. But, he's got some tight hips that make it difficult for him to practice at full speed, he'll never tell you though. That guy could walk out there with an amputation and still say he could get by that corner. He is a warrior-delux. He didn't practice much last week and we just got to save his legs because he does make plays, he catches the ball with consistency. When he doesn't, it is cause for alarm."
(On OLB Anthony Kelley): "We've done some things with Anthony, he's one of those really good players that you are trying to find a spot for. You want him to impact the game, so you look around find how he can best impact the game. We've done that with a variety of athletes since I've been here. Curtis Williams, who was a tailback on the depth chart when I arrived, midway through spring ball, we got him over to safety and took (Anthony) Vontoure from safety to corner. We've been doing those things with Anthony Kelley. When I first got here, he wanted to be a wide receiver. We looked around and tried to find places for him and he rotated with Jafar Williams last year. He and Jafar will continue to rotate and will impact the game in a big way."
(On penalties): "They concern me a great deal. Against Oregon State there were kind of penalties against the board but against Cal it was mostly offensive-dominated penalty deal and primarily in the holding department. Holding is a tough penalty so we can't do it. The key is that we usually have about 400 yards of offense without penalties."
(On whether the team's offensive production has dropped since last year): "I think the expectation has level has just gone to a higher place. If you look at the numbers we are not far off, in fact we were number one in the conference in rushing going into the Cal game and I think we were number two in total offense in the conference. We are now second rushing and fifth in total offense which is where we finished last year. Certainly the last two weeks has taken us down a couple notches so we have to find a way to return to our rhythm that we had in the Oregon State game where we had 500 yards. Hopefully we can do that quickly. It isn't as if we're not paying close attention to it. We are trying to get our guys in a position where they can be effective and make plays but ultimately we've got to make those plays and not have them called back when we do."
(On the game plans being different from week to week): "Offense is like this: Every week you try to come up with a recipe and you have all these different ingredients in your cupboard. And you go up and you chose and try to make something and that's basically what happens. Sometimes it comes out as a soufflé and sometimes it comes out as a casserole from two weeks ago. Remember coming home and saying `what's or dinner and they say casserole which is another way of saying leftovers or not so good. That's basically what offense is. Hopefully we'll make ourselves a good game plan this week."