Rick Neuheisel Press Conference Quotes
Nov. 15, 1999
General Remarks: "We are disappointed in the way that we played this last weekend against UCLA and certainly when you have opportunities and you squander them disappointment is part of the equation. We have got to get rid of that and move on quickly because we have a great opportunity this weekend against Washington State. It's the rekindling of the Apple Cup. It's my first chance to coach in this game and it's an honor because there have been lots of great contests over the years involved in the two schools. Any time you play in traditional rivalry games they are special. They are the kind of games all the players remember and when you have those kind of opportunities you want to make the most of them. So we have got to get rid of the hangover effect of the UCLA loss and get back to business because there is still a lot to play for. At 0-2 if someone had said we had a chance to be 7-4 going into our last game I think a lot of people would have been very excited for that. All is not lost. There are still things that can happen elsewhere that can shake the conference race in a variety of different way. For us the key is just to play well because unfortunately we did not do that this last weekend, especially on the offensive side of the ball."
(On Marques Tuiasosopo's health): "Taking from Mike Price's vernacular he is ready to go. It's hard to evaluate. He was healthy enough to be out there against UCLA and he would not use injury as an excuse for a lack of execution nor will we."
(On Neuheisel's friendship with Mike Price): "Mike is a great guy. I knew him when I was an assistant with UCLA. I've had a very friendly relationship with him over the years. His staff came to visit our staff at Colorado. We played against each other one time while I was at Colorado and I have nothing but good things to say about Mike Price. He is one of the real good guys in the profession."
(On the letter written by Northwestern coach Gary Barnett regarding Neuheisel's relationship with Mike Price): "At least to hear all the guys talk about it there was no such letter. It was more of a thing fabricated by the media. I don't know the genesis of it, but Mike told me he never did it and I've gotten that word from at least one of the other coaches in Mike Belotti so I don't know that there ever was one. And if there was one then so be it. As far as I'm concerned it's behind us."
(On whether Marques Tuiasosopo's limited practice time affected his play against UCLA): "You show up on Saturday and it's time to play and I don't think that making excuses for it is of any value so we don't say that it had any bearing on it at all. We just didn't play well enough to win."
(On importance of this weekend's game in recruiting): "We have a chance to sweep the Northwest. We've beaten Oregon and we've beaten Oregon State and we've got Washington State still left to play and any time you play the interstate rivals there's special significance to it. I'm excited for it, our players are excited for it and certainly I've read that the Washington State players are excited for it."
(On whether he now understands the importance of the Washington-Washington State rivalry): "Probably not as thoroughly as I would like but I still have a couple days left to reacquaint myself with it. I've been privy to a bunch of different rivalries in my career and they all have special significance and certainly there are arguments made that this is more important than another but ultimately they are the most important to the people that are playing on that particular day. I'm thrilled to be a part of it. After my travels through the state of Washington there is a great feeling towards this contest so we want to make sure we make our best effort and play our best and hopefully that will be enough to win."
(On why the team was not as successful against UCLA): "We weren't as sharp. We lacked the precision that had given us an opportunity to be successful in the weeks we found a way to win. Defensively I thought we played pretty well. They made a couple of big plays where McCann put the ball right where he needed to and he should be congratulated. The deep ball to Fred Mitchell altered the field position, although it resulted in no points in our blocking the field goal but certainly it was a time consideration and a field position consideration. He made a third-and-14 pass to Mitchell where Mitchell's toe was in by about an inch and it was a great call by the official. It was just one of those days where it was a game of inches and the inches belonged to them."
(On Washington's lack of a bye week): "The problem is you never know when you need the bye. You can't predict those kind of things. No one has a crystal ball as to when would be a nice week to take off. The bottom line is we all get served up a schedule and you go play and do as best you can. You learn to live with the consequences and play your hardest. That's how life is. Ultimately our kids are learning valuable lessons not just for our football team but for life. You take what comes your way and you make the most of it. There might be a time you say I need a bye after week eight, with the thought that you'll need a rest then but you might be playing your best football at that time and why would you want to stop playing especially if there are injuries. You don't want to lose your rhthym. You just take it as it comes and do your best."
(On the possibility of still going to the Rose Bowl): "I talked to our players on Sunday about what we can control. Certainly there will be lots of articles about all the scenarios that can be played out and which game we might be invited to. Ultimately what we need to do is pay attention to the things that we have control of and that is the Washington State game and our preparation for it. We need to do our best to get everyone as healthy as we can get them and play our best football. It's the eleventh chance and it's time to play our best especially given the stakes. I'm excited for it and I know our kids are excited for it. We have to shake off the hang over of the UCLA loss and I am fully confident that that's what will take place."
(On the penalty on Wilbur Hooks on the blocked punt): "He knew the rules. We had an incident earlier in the year with Nick Olszewski where he was hit by the ball on the punt where he was blocking and the ball came down short and landed on his shoulder pad and so in trying to get to the ball knowing it had been a fumble he kicked it out of bounds. There was a special teams meeting and we talked about that rule as to what the consequences are. You can't kick the ball or bat the ball. It had been discussed. The coaching point there is to scoop it and score. You don't try to fall on the ball because you have an opportunity to try to make a touchdown so you don't want to just land on it and take a way a chance to make a bigger play. Even if you don't pick it up on the scoop the likelihood is even if they fall on it you're still going to get the ball. Wilbur took scoop to mean get the ball down the field and in a bang-bang instant he reached out and kicked it. We both agreed it was a poor decision."
(On what team Washington State most closely resembles ): " Closest to Oregon State in that they are exclusively a one-back team. They spread the field, make you go cover them down and when they do they create running seams just like Ken Simonton does for Oregon State. When you don't try to cover them down they'll throw what we call bubble screens where the wide receiver kind of bubbles back behind the line of scrimmage and they throw it to him and run down the field. They have all kinds of weapons and it's been their offense for a long time. It's time tested and when you try to take something away they can see what is happening and know where to go. It's a very efficient offense."
(On Washington State's defense): "Schematically it's a 4-3. A lot of corners coverage. They will probably have some nuances because of our ability to run the option and we will probably see a lot of pressure given that UCLA had success with pressure. I would say we will look for everything they've got but I will say that they are what they are in terms of their 4-3 scheme."
(On who to look out for on Washington State's defense ): "Steve Gleason is clearly the heart and soul of the defense and Newman looks like a great player. He's done a nice job. The front is a lot of stunts. The tackles twist all the time so you have to be ready for all those gains inside. Gleason is the guy that shows up the most and even though he got hurt last week we fully expect him to show up and play."
(On the annual trash-talking that occurs leading up to the Washington-Washington State games ): "It doesn't behoove us to do any talking during the week. We have an opportunity to at least communicate about how you feel about the game on Saturday. Hopefully we will communicate by playing really well. Certainly in rivalry games there is a lot of talk and the fans are the biggest culprits in terms of their jabs against one another and that all makes for a fun and entertaining week but for the team it's better to focus on the task at hand and rather than worry about Washington State lets try to fix what broke against UCLA and play our best football."
(On the players recovering from the loss to UCLA): "First of all I think kids are more resilient than coaches. Coaches have a harder time coming back from those things than the kids do although I was impressed with how hard our team took that lost. It speaks about the commitment they have given to the particular project of 1999. They'll bounce back. They'll be ready to go. They'll be fresh and ready to roll and we just hope everybody can make it because it's a thrill to be able to play in these games."
(On adjustments they need to make from the UCLA game): "You have to be efficient. We lost out on plays throughout the ball game. If you look at the game we went the opening series again and scored. The second series we had five plays. The third series we're down on the 2 yard line first and goal and didn't get it in the first time. Second down Marques gets strung out on an option. On third down we score but the defense bluffed and our tight end moved so we took the penalty. Then we miss a pass that the nose guard reaches up and knocks down that Dane Looker probably catches for a touchdown and then we miss a field goal inexplicably. Later we block a punt and there's only the kicker there and we somehow find a way to give them 30 yards in penalties and give them a first down at mid-field. I've never seen that in my life. I had to have that rule explained to me on the sideline. So when those kinds of things happen you give away opportunities. Those are the kinds of things we have to fix. If we fix those and get a little sharper and get a few more first downs like the Arizona game and the Stanford game and we get ourselves some more chances then the game is the other way. We have not blown anybody out. We were the benefactor of a few Oregon State mistakes that made the game one-sided early but we have not blown anyone out and that is not our team. Our team is a good team that plays hard and when it plays hard it gives itself a chance to win and we have found ways to win. We hope to do that this week but we have to understand that just by showing up we don't make the other team cower. It's about playing and playing efficiently and hopefully we can get that done this week."
(On the Washington State game being the senior's last home game ): "Any time you are a new coach and you arrive, the seniors are the ones who cast the most suspicious eye on you because they have one year left and they have gone through all this and had it one way and finally got used to a style and then you change the style on them so they want to know how is this going to effect them and that is human. I have been very fortunate that all of these kids have immense character. They have all bought in to the program and are all very fond of the University of Washington and have all made the most of the transition and hopefully we can find a way to win on Saturday and send them out in style which would be fitting with their commitment to the school."
(On what they learned from the UCLA game): "We're disappointed of course because we did not win last Saturday but I still think there are a lot of good things that took place last week. I think defensively we held UCLA to 320 yard. UCLA has a lot of great looking kids. They have a lot of speed. Those running backs are great looking players. I thought defensively we played well. We didn't give up a whole host of big plays. Certainly they made a couple that altered field position but I thought if you look at how they scored they had only one drive of any real substance for a touchdown. We gave them the ball on the three yard line for their second touchdown and there was a drive where we held them to a field goal and there was another drive where we fumbled the ball inside their 30 yard line for another field goal. For the most part it was a pretty darn good job. Special teams played well. We blocked a field goal and we blocked a punt. We just made a real critical mistake on the punt which changed the momentum of the game, but for the most part I thought we did a nice job.
(On the lack of a good pass rush): "So much has been said about our lack of a pass rush but you have to look at UCLA and how they played offense. They didn't drop back very often. Because of the score they didn't need to. They had a new quarterback and didn't want to put him at risk. It wasn't like they were behind 33-7 like they were against Arizona when they were able to accumulate a lot of sacks. There were a lot of moving pockets and a lot of screens and in our efforts to make sure we don't give up a big play on the screen we had to take a little off the pass rush. I don't want ot single out and say we are not playing well in those areas. Our kids are playing with everything they've got and I'm looking for them to do it one more time so we can have a happy end to the season."