MEDIA QUOTES: Robb Akey ISU game prep

This week University of Idaho head coach ROBB AKEY addressed the media regarding what exactly happened last Saturday in Tucson against Arizona, how he is getting his young team back on track after the loss, and how he is preparing the team for this week's game against the Idaho State Bengals. PLUS: Media quotes from Jayson Bird, who transferred to ISU from UI for his last year of eligibility.

Q: Coach, just talk about how you try to rebound from what happened Saturday night, and what's the first step to doing that?

RA: "Well first thing is you don't cry. If you cry that doesn't accomplish anything. We've got to come back. We brought ‘em in here yesterday [Monday] when we came back. We didn't get back here until 5 o'clock in the morning on Sunday; so we sent ‘em to bed. We didn't have school yesterday so we did what we normally do on Sunday yesterday. We ran the game out of ‘em, got lifting, and then the important thing came about, and that was us coming together. Because I'll promise you those kids went out there and nobody feels worse than they do, this coaching staff as well. Then they were looking for answers. Well, the answer's right there on the video, and that's what we brought to ‘em, and we explained to ‘em the way things need to take place, and we spent a good deal of time teaching from the video so that we understand how critical one person is, whether it's his alignment or execution of a play call, and how 10 other guys all rely on that. That's how we get back…that is how we made progress during the course of our training camp. We need to take what we do on the practice field and be able to put that out on the game. That was the most disheartening thing to me in regards to Saturday, because how many times did we talk during the course of this camp, and we've seen things getting better, and I like the direction that things were going. Well, obviously I didn't like anything about Saturday night, but that's how you go about doing it. My goal for them, and what I've made sure that they understood, is when the left the Dome here yesterday, number one they weren't going to try to walk out the door until they understand clearly what is being asked of them and each of the things that we're asking them to do; so we were able to get those things cleared up if there are any communication errors.

I think the big thing is a lot of it has to do with being under the lights for the first time in a true ball game. The other thing, when they walked out the door of this Dome and that door slammed shut behind them, that door also slammed shut on that Arizona game. We can affect what we do in the future. It's a great opportunity for a life lesson. It's not what happens to you in life that matters, it's how you respond to what happens to you in life that does matter. This is an opportunity for character to come out."

Q: After a performance like that, does this next game become that much more important? Not just from a team's psyche, but from a campus psyche and a program psyche? How important is it for you guys to play well this week?

RA: "It's very important that we go out there and we play football. The way I look at it, we haven't played a football game yet because what we did on Saturday night was obviously not a football game. It's critically important that we take what we've been working on, and we put that out on the field. There's no question in my mind that we're going to get back to seeing that team that's been practicing with us. It is important that that happens, but it's important that we pay attention to detail, we pay attention to the little things; therefore we help that discipline show up when it comes time to play a ball game. It's also one of the things that happens to you when you're growing up, and the way that it happened on Saturday night it got magnified tremendously, and that made it ugly. The fact of the matter is we had seven true freshmen playing in this ball game, 14 kids played the first college football game of their life, and we had nine guys starting for the first time. They're not going to execute to perfection, unfortunately. I do expect them to execute a whole lot better than what we did – don't get me wrong there. It'll get cleaned up."

Q: I wonder – do you change any lineup or game plan things after that, or not really?

RA: "Well, what you do is you affect the game plan towards who you're playing. You fix what took place on the field. That's all you can do. We've got to be teachers, and we've got to get those things fixed, we continue teaching, and we get better play out of the guys. Then those that don't come along, then look at making changes in the lineup at that point in time. I'm not going to panic after one ballgame. I understand there's a lot of people right now who believe that the sky has fallen down. There's also an old saying that it's darkest before the dawn, and that's the approach that we're taking to this. And hopefully that was as dark as it'd gonna get."

Q: Like you mentioned, there are probably some fans a little nervous after that. Do you have any sort of message for those people?

RA: "Well, keep the faith in us that they had going into that ball game. I got a lot of good words from a lot of people that had seen us practice, that had seen us getting prepared for that ball game, that have watched the way we've taken over this program, and the way that we're going about doing things. I would ask that you continue to have that faith in the fact that I was brought to town to do the job here, and we brought in the right players to do the job, and that we do care about it. I know, and I'm very proud of the fact that we've got a lot of people out there that do care about what's going on. It means an awful lot to all of them. But for those guys that played on that field and these coaches that are here, it's our entire livelihood. It's those player's career. It's the only thing that matters to them, and with this coaching staff our ability to feed our families depend upon the job that we do; so there is not one thing that will be taken lightly in the way that we're going about doing things. If you like the way we've been doing things, consider this to be…this is one of the painful parts of growing up, and it's a step that we will get beyond. Number one, we'll be very stern about where we're at and with what things are happening. But we've got to get in here and get ‘em taught and get things fixed. That was the important thing. What I didn't need to do was bring ‘em in here and lose that ball game again. That's the worst thing in the world that we could have done. Yeah. It was a great sense of urgency in getting things fixed, and if they'll understand that through discipline and effort, that's the way we're going to be able to get things accomplished the right way. Well, they saw that. That's what hurt us in the fact that it was the way things played out on Saturday night. There were too many errors. That's discipline. Discipline means to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. Do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. Those things got in the way. I like to think that we learned a heck of a lesson right there, and we just got kicked in the mouth big time. We're either going to get back up or we can believe that the sky fell down. I don't believe it did. Parts of it did that night [chuckles] -- the wet part. They even had us go inside for an hour before the game so the sky wouldn't hit us in the head. But we've got to move forward. We can't dwell on this thing any longer. We have learned one tremendous lesson. There's no question about it. That's the way it needs to be treated. We've got to learn from this and move forward so that nothing like this will ever happen again."

Q: How about Idaho State then. What's the report on the Bengals?

RA: "Well, the Bengals had a rough first outing of their own, and I know that they're certainly very anxious to get the opportunity to play their next ballgame. They had a running back that went for almost 100 yards, went 98 yards against Boise. They've got a quarterback that I think that they like. They've got a tight end that I know that they like. On defense they definitely play hard. They're going to play physical, and they're hungry to try to fix what happened to them in their first outing, and I certainly know that they're getting a chance to play against another in-state school. They already didn't like the outcome of one of them. There would be nothing that would make them happier than to come up here and get after us. We're paying attention to us big time. We're going to tweak the things that we need to do to fit the attack against what they're going to bring to the table, and we're going to get this football team fixed."

Q: Obviously Jayson Bird's over there. How about his brother? What's he bringing to your team and how is this week going to affect him you think?

RA: "Rayce has been a part of this family. He came in here last year and wanted to play college football, and he's doing that right now. He's playing a great roll helping us get better. I think he's having a great time doing it, and I think that's what he's paying attention to, and it'd probably be a good thing to ask him what he's thinking about it. I think he's very happy to be here and he's doing what he wants to be doing."

Q: Just talk about, you know, about such a young team to have a veteran, you know not a veteran but an older presence who's a peer as opposed to a coach. How much does that help some of those younger linebackers?

RA: "I think the biggest thing they're probably gonna take from that is that how important the opportunity to be able to play college football really is. Here's guy that comes back later in his life. He's got children, he's got a wife. He's got a lot of responsibility that means more than just football, and he's walked on to be able to do it. I think they've got to take a look at that and say, 'Man. This guy's out here busting his tail every day and it means an awful lot to him.' I think it maybe makes them appreciate their situation maybe that much more."

Q: How much does Rayce play for you guys? Is he in on any special teams?

RA: "Rayce is a scout team player for us right now, helping…you know, he's getting after our offense, helping them get ready for the new opponent."

Q: Robb, is it going to be weird to see Jayson on that other sideline?

RA: "Well, I wouldn't say that it would be weird. It's strange they get him in that we're used to seeing him around here. That's a young man that busted his tail when he was here at the University of Idaho. He graduated and got his degree. He cut his career short here at the University of Idaho because of a knee injury, and he was able to graduate and wanted to go to dental school. There was a school at Idaho State that enabled him to set the table to get into dental school, and I'm glad to hear that his knee is better now. That's a good thing. I think with one year left of eligibility he probably wanted to see what he could do with it."

Q: I saw that the depth chart remained the same. Are there going to be any changes, anyone who won't play because of the injuries?

RA: "Well, at this point in time we have two guys that were not able to finish the game on Saturday, and that was Tyrone Novikoff at offensive tackle and he had a shoulder sprain – I would expect him to be available to join us this week. Aaron Lavarias, defensive tackle, had a shoulder as well. He might be questionable this week, and Peter Bjorvik the tight end got a hamstring in warmups and wasn't able to play the game, and I would say he's going to be questionable for a little bit longer. I expect to have everyone else."

Q: Anything in particular, especially with Idaho State...last week, anything that raises a red flag?

RA: "I think the fact that they're playing hard on defense. They're trying to do a number of different things on offense. They're going to keep you on your toes. They ran Boise's "Statue of Liberty" against Boise. They ran a flea flicker. There was a halfback pass. There were different things like that they're going to try to bring to the table, meaning we're going to need to be on our toes. At the same point in time again you fit the game plan to fit the opponent. The thing that we've got to do the most is get our football team to execute the way it needs to."

Q: How much do you focus on righting the mistakes that happened last week and preparing for Idaho State?

RA: "We've got the combination of both. We spent a lot of time yesterday in regards to how we can fix what took place. This is how we fix it, and if those things take place this is what it does to us. That has taken place. Now we're on the practice field this afternoon. We've got to be able to execute things that are the things we do, and it's gonna be pointed towards attacking Idaho State, be it their offense, defense or special teams; so it's the combination. We pick the parts of our package that we're gonna use, and we pay a great deal of attention right now to detail, in doing things the right way, doing what's going to help us clean up what took place on Saturday night."

Q: Were your players pretty upset with Saturday's outcome? It wasn't really the way you obviously intended to start the season.

RA: "Absolutely. Every member of the program – you take the fact that you've been preparing for three weeks, and you're excited as can be to finally get the season kicked off, and go out there and can't do anything right. That's very disappointing when it's things that have been done right before; so it was taken very personally by every guy in that locker room, every guy on that field, every guy in this program today. We can't be walking around stepping on our lips and pouting about it. That's over with. We should be upset. We oughta be mad. We oughta be very determined and disciplined to get out there and fix what we're doing. It was an eye opener. We got kicked in the mouth, and now is a chance to be able to respond to it. It's like I say all the time - I don't know if I said it earlier in this one or not, but it's not what happens to you in life that matters, it's how you respond to what happens to you. We've got an opportunity to respond to it right now. We can't change what happened, but we can affect the way we're going to go about things. Yeah. I'll promise you, every member of this football program is taking this very personally."

Q: Is there a chance – I know you never like to lose – but is there a chance that this kind of shell shock early in the season, that the focus just seems like it'd go up a notch for all your players, with that disappointed feeling that they want to get back out on the field.

RA: "Well. I'll promise you that what they want to do right now is do something about it. I had guys come by my office on Sunday and they can't wait for Tuesday afternoon -- which finally, thank goodness, is here. – to get here so they could go out and get to work and clean things up. So yeah, it has delivered a message that has been taken, and it's the only way we can respond to it."

LARRY JOHNSON: At the end of the game on Saturday you had a small chat with Coach Stoops of Arizona. Could you summarize how that went?

RA: "He just…what he did was come up and said, "I hope you don't feel like we did anything inappropriate." I told him I didn't think he did at all. It's our job to keep them out of the end zone. They pulled their starting quarterback at halftime, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. That was what we talked about. He wished us well with the building of our program. I know he's had a hard time getting his built. They've made a lot of improvement. They're in the fifth year of them building for a Pac-10 program, and that's a very improved Arizona team. That was what we talked about in a nutshell."

LJ: Thank you.


On facing former teammates: "I have a lot of good friends that are still up there that I maintain close contact with. There may be a little trash talking but most of it's just fun. I had a good relationship with my teammates up there so there are no hard feelings from my end and I don't think from their end, either."

On facing brother Rayce: "Hopefully we meet up. That'd be fun. He's quite a bit older so I've never even gotten the opportunity to play with him in high school or anything. That'd be quite entertaining."

On if he has inside information: "Well, let's put it this way. There's game film from last week and there's game film from last year. The coaches haven't changed; so that's what we're studying and that's what we're getting prepared for. As far as inside stuff, I'm just being a player this week as far as being a football player and just going with what they tell us."

On playing his former team: "It's definitely an opportunity. It'll be a little different being on the opposite sideline of what I've been accustomed to the last four years, but you can look at it as just an opportunity to play a Division I football team. I had good times there and I'm having some good times here."

On taking it as just another game: "Well, it's just like any game, the time approaching this. Any time you have an opportunity to play a lot or score a touchdown it's good in any game; so that's the way I'm looking at it. If I try to think too much about all the other stuff then it'll get in my head a little, and I'm trying to stay away from that."

On who his parents will be rooting for: "Well, Brian and Cora Lee Bird will root for both sides, but they're just going to wear neutral clothing, no gold, no orange. They're going to wear black so they can support both teams I guess."

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