Rick Neuheisel's Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 13, 2000
General Remarks: "We are excited about the Apple Cup ballgame. We are going into it with a lot at stake. Obviously, we have played well enough to put ourselves in a position where there can be a lot at stake and that's exciting. It's what you dream about when you play college football, that you can have a chance on the last Saturday to accomplish all your goals. Certainly, that is the case. It will not come easy because Washington State is playing very inspired football. Coach (Mike) Price has done a great job there in having that team continue to play hard despite a lot of tough emotional setbacks. Three overtime losses would take the gas out of a lot of teams. But, not this team. They played with an unbelievable amount of enthusiasm a week ago against Oregon and certainly played inspired this last Saturday against Southern Cal. So, we understand that this is going to be a very tough, very physical, very difficult game and we better play our best football to come out of it. There is a tendency to hope that you can just get by your last couple of games so that all the things that are mentioned, like bowl games and all the differen things that could happen in the season, you hope you can have all that stuff. But, the real job of our football team is to remember that the most important game we play all year is against Washington State. When you come to Washington that is the case, the Apple Cup is the game that you'll always remember and this one will have special significance for our team."
On the Curtis Williams Fund: "There was a real unusual effort put forth on Saturday and it wasn't just by the guys wearing uniforms and playing against UCLA. It was an inspired effort led by Karen Flor and Jennifer Cohen. They organized and put together the fundraising effort for the Curtis Williams Fund. Our goal going into the evening was $25,000, hopefully we'll build that up. I know our athletic director Barbara Hedges has some really lofty goals for this fund. We're excited that people are as generous as they have been. But, Karen and Jennifer and the help of 65 student-athletes participating in other sports around campus, along with countless volunteers raised $50,000 during the ballgame. It just speaks in a very loud way what kind of commitment this particular fan base community has towards the University of Washington and particularly a young man who is having a very difficult time. We are excited that we are off to a good start and Barbara would like for this fund to grow and help support the hidden cost that are associated with such an injury. On behalf of our football team and program wanted to say thank you to everyone who participated, it was a neat thing. We get to go see Curtis again on Thursday and he'll be excited that that many people are worried about him, caring about him, praying for him and I still believe and remain optimistic that this is going to have a happy ending."
On the Apple Cup rivalry: "It is as advertised. As I said a year ago, every university has a rivalry, a game that is pointed to throughout the season. When you are in an in-state situation, you are talking about bragging rights, you are talking about lots of things outside the lines of the football game. Certainly I've learned over the course of my twenty-two months here in Seattle the significance of the Apple Cup. We understand, our players understand and hopefully they'll play with everything they've got, if they do, it should be a great game."
On being worried about overconfidence: "I think there is too much at stake for there to be overconfidence. I don't believe that our football team will take any game lightly given the circumstances that have surrounded the way we got to 9-1. We know that Washington State could easily have seven wins at this point. They have been unfortunate, so we have to play our best football."
On tailbacks: "The outset was to try to get everybody a few chances and keep everybody in the flow of the game and keep everybody happy, everybody excited about the season and so forth. That has rapidly transformed into playing who's healthy. It will be no different this week. We've got some injuries at the tailback position that are going to settle themselves out. I'm not exactly sure who will be caring the ball, but I know they will be carrying it behind our offensive line that had a great day Saturday. We need to establish a running game and hopefully the tailback that has the opportunity to be in the game does just that. Willie Hurst is out. Paul Arnold is, at best, questionable. I would say he's unlikely. Braxton Cleman is nicked up, but we think he'll play. Rich Alexs is nicked up, but we think he'll play. We have Matthias Wilson and Shawn Sweat available if necessary. Jelani Harrison was out for the season when he got shoulder surgery earlier in the year."
On the young Washington State quarterback: "Young quarterbacks, inexperience is always a factor. Sometimes there is an old saying that says what you don't know won't hurt you. After beating USC, a very talented USC team in the Coliseum and being 1-0 as a starter, the confidence he has right now, has got to be immense. I think he is a very dangerous quarterback, to be playing at this time."
On the Washington State offense: "They have a lot of the same things that you have known and love about the Cougar offense. Certainly big play potential, an 88-yard touchdown pass this weekend to Marcus Williams, another one of my old recruits. They are a very talented group and they are also able to run the ball and run effectively. (Runningback Dave) Minnich is doing some good things."
On defending Minnich: "You have to have gap integrity and that is one of the hardest things to teach defensive players because they've all been told get to the ball, get to the ball. If you leave your gap prematurely, you're going to leave it open for a good runner, as Minnich is, to find it, which was the case in some of our run defense against Oregon State."