Quotes from the Coaches

Washington head coach, Rick Neuheisel, and Oregon State head coach, Dennis Erickson, comment about their team's upcoming matchup against each other.

UW head coach Rick Neuhesial
(Getty Images)
General Comments: "We find ourselves in a place where I don't think we envisioned ourselves to be. Coach Erickson just said, 'we are where we are', but there's still many things left to play for. For that reason I expect a great effort from our football team. I know our coaching staff is looking forward to putting together a great plan for a very, very talented Oregon State team that's kind of finding itself right now. In the last two weeks, they've played very, very well, especially on defense. While there will be those who will image that we'll come apart, I don't think that will be the case. I think our guys will fight. I think we had great effort on Saturday night, just had too many mistakes to be victorious. We have to do a great job of coaching this week and we can try to eliminate those mistakes, still get the great effort, and hopefully find a way to win. A win would give us a fifth win for the season before we embark on our last road trip with two games left. It would give a win over a Northwest opponent, it would give us a great send off to seniors in their last Husky home game, all things that are hopefully motivators for our squad as well as just finding a way to get a win. When you're suffering defeat in the way that we have each of the last three weeks, there's only one way to get that taste out of your mouth and that's to come out and play a great football game. Hopefully we'll get a great crowd. I was really pleased with how the crowd got behind our football team in the fourth quarter of the game against UCLA and we're sorry we couldn't reward them with a victory. I'm looking forward to the Oregon State game, our last home game and hopefully we'll get a big and much needed win."

On Northwest rivalries: "It really, at this point doesn't make much difference who we play, as important as it is to try and gain victory. Obviously, they're a great traditionally rivalry for the next three weeks. Games that have a lot of geographic significance in respect to the fan base and people knowing people from each of the different regions and so forth. Given the history of these rivalries, each of the next three opponents will be taking their best shots at knocking us into oblivion that will just be the case. It'll take a tremendous amount of effort and a tremendous amount of pride to stand up and not just to toe-to-toe, but find ways to win."

On looking forward to the rest of the season: "We have three weeks left in our season. Obviously, there's a great motivator in that Washington hasn't had a losing season in a number of years. We'd like to keep that streak alive. To do that, we have to win two of the next three. We're trying to take them one at a time. We have a very, very tall order this week in playing a tough Oregon State, maybe the best defense in the conference. We have to get after them as best we can."

On what needs improvement: "I think all of us have to do a better job of utilizing our personnel and our personnel, when given the chance has to make plays. We were in position to make lots of plays on Saturday night. I also think that what's true is that when you're pressing, which is certainly the case in your program with high expectations on a yearly basis and you find yourself in this situation that you aren't as free mentally to make the kind of plays that might normally occur on a regular basis. Everybody's trying so hard to make a play that it becomes more of a conscious effort than a subconscious effort. You don't flow in the same regard, there's certainly some of that going on. There are some uncharacteristic things that have happened that we've been making for a long time around here. It's been one of those years. You can't sit there and say it's been bad luck. You have to keep working at it and trying to create more turnovers and hopefully this will be the week."

On what is going through his head at this point in the season: "Like I said weeks before, no one puts more pressure on me than myself and because of that it's difficult when things aren't going well and you keep searching for the answers and keep looking for the right thing to say or the right personnel move or the right scheme that is going to unlock all the misery and let it all go away. Usually it isn't one thing, it's a combination of things and it takes a little bit more than one week of preparation to get it all fixed. You have to stay the course and you have to keep fighting and you have to keep going. I thought we had tremendous effort on Saturday night and we were in position to win and it would have been a great win for the program. But it didn't happen so we now have to reinvest this week and I look forward to doing that. But in terms of the big picture, I was asked yesterday by one of the writers on how it is for my family as if there is a black cloud hanging over our home or following my kids to school, it's not like that and nor can it be. This is important stuff. This is what I do and I have been entrusted to carry a program and make people proud of the program from a variety of standpoints, mainly winning. While that is all difficult, you can't lose sight of that the sun is going to come up every day, the kids are still trying and coaches are still giving everything they got. As I said to the writer who asked, I'm still one of the luckiest people in the world, that is the way it is. Even though it looks as if it is a miserable existence, bottom line is that it is a tremendous challenge and that is the way you have to look at it. I will never look at it as though I am a failure. I'm not going to do that. I'm doing everything I can to work to get this thing going in the right direction and will continue to do so as long as I am given the opportunity and I'm going to continue to be optimistic. I'm going to continue to believe in the kids and coaches that I have until I see fit to change in any of those regards. Bottom line is, I've got a great opportunity this week to hopefully right the ship so we are going to try as hard as we can to do that."

On the fan's reaction to this season: "I put it to you. I haven't heard one person come up to me and say your team quit. I haven't heard one person come up to me and say you're not playing hard. I've had people come up and say you didn't punt very well. I've had people come up and say you dropped some balls, you can't run the ball, you're playing lousy tackle defense and those things statistics point to. The point of the matter is, no one has said we had to play hard. You look at every game, our guys fight to the bitter end. In the world that you live, where there are no concessions, it's either did you or didn't you, you're not going to talk about that. But from where I sit, that is one of the most important things. We've got kids that continue to believe, to fight, to try and trust one another. Ultimately, if you don't have that, you have no chance. Because we had that, we had ample chance against UCLA and it just didn't turn out. The last thing I hate is to feel like I am being defensive. I really do not want to be defensive because I understand your side of the fence. You have stories to write, editorials to publish and there is going to be public demand, cries for the viewpoint of what needs to be changed. But when it comes to the program and whether the kids are doing what they are asked to do and whether they are trying, then I do get a little defensive because I believe in my heart of hearts that they do do what we ask, that they try as hard as they can. Does it always work perfectly? No, it doesn't. We are suffering the consequences because it isn't working perfectly, But there is no fault in effort."

OSU Head Coach Dennis Erickson
(Getty Images)
(On Washington) "They're going through some of the same things we've been going through, so I know it's not a lot of fun, either place. They're a talented football team. You look at them offensively, they're probably as talented as anybody in our league. (Quarterback) Cody Pickett, to me, is like a Carson Palmer (of Southern California), a Jason Gesser (of Washington State) - that type of player at that position; good arm, very accurate, very mobile, a tough son of a gun that just hangs in there and plays the game the way the game should be played. I've got a lot of admiration for him; he's a heck of a football player. They've got a lot of skill. You start with Reggie Williams - I don't know if there's a better receiver in all of college football. He's dangerous, he's big, he's fast, he makes all kinds of things happen and he's just a great football player; you've got to make sure you account for him. The difference now from maybe a year ago is that they've got some people to go with him. (Wide receiver) Paul Arnold is making a heck of a lot of plays; and (wide receiver) Charles Frederick, who adds a lot of speed at the other side, is a talented young guy out there. The tight end, (Kevin) Ware, is making a lot of plays. They've got a lot of weapons; that's why they're leading the Pac-10 in total offense and scoring a lot of points. We've got to be able to handle their passing game; that's what they're doing right now. (Tailback) Rich Alexis looks like he's going to be back; (Chris) Singleton is back, he's a very good back who we recruited out of high school and he's playing pretty darn well for them. They've scored a lot of points regardless of who they've played against and create a heck of a lot of problems for you, so we've got to make sure we play as good as we can on defense. It's our biggest challenge, defensively, in the last five or six weeks, without a doubt.

"Defensively, they've got talent. They're very good against the run; they match up very well against us as far as that aspect is concerned, because we've been running the football pretty well the last couple weeks. I'm sure they're going to put people down there and force us to throw the football - that's what people are going to start doing. I thought our passing game picked up quite a bit last week. I thought Derek started throwing the ball a lot better, (wide receiver) James Newson again started to make the big play. We've got to continue to do that. That's our personality, and that's what we've got to be able to do. They're talented up front. Ben Mahdavi is one of the better backers in the league, and (linebacker) Marcus Cooper can run. They've got a lot of talent, there's no question about it. They've had some injuries in the secondary that have hurt them a little bit, but (cornerback) Nate Robinson is getting better all the time; he's a true freshman out of the Seattle area who is a football/basketball player. The key, to me, is what can we do as far as our running game against their run defense? And then we've got to be able to stop Cody and those receivers - that's a real key - and try to get some pressure on them. It's going to be an interesting football game, and one we've got to win if we want to continue what we're doing. And playing on the road; we haven't played very well on the road and we've got to play on the road. We've got to start playing well on the road, and that's a tough place to play. Playing at Husky Stadium ... I've been there a few times, and their fans are great fans. It gets noisy in there and it's a tremendous setting to play a college football game; it's fun to go in there and play, so we're looking forward to going there and having the opportunity to play them."

(How do you defend a wide receiver like Washington's Reggie Williams?) "You have to change it up - you can't give him the same look all the time. You're going to have to play him one-on-one sometimes and you're going to have to double him sometimes. You've got to change it up. Like I said earlier, they've got some other guys out there now who can get the big play. Paul Arnold made a lot of plays last week for them, real critical plays. Charles Frederick is a guy who makes some big plays. They've got some people, so you can't double him all the time. You've got to change it up. But again, you can't let him get going and start making plays, because once he does, that ignites everything that happens to them offensively."

(On Washington tailback Chris Singleton) "Chris Singleton is a heck of a back. We tried to recruit him out of high school, we thought he was very impressive and he's getting an opportunity now and taking advantage of it. He's got good size, he's got good feet and he makes you miss, he's a very strong runner, and he has added some stuff to them. You'll have him, and then (Rich) Alexis back, so you'll have a combination of both of those."

(Is Washington's defense improving?) "I thought they played better - they're running around, they playing hard. They've made some changes in the secondary because of injuries, and those guys - like maybe us in some areas - have played now, so they're a lot better with time. So they are playing better, without question. I think they played very well against Arizona State, which, as we know, has been very explosive against everybody; they played well against UCLA, which is a good offensive football team. They've played very well against the run, so it will be interesting to see what happens."

(Are you shocked at Washington's record right now?) "I'm not shocked to see anybody in our league go up and down a little bit. I just think that's kind of how the league is. You go back in the four years that I've been here - and maybe even further back than that - and you've seen the USCs go back down and come back up, you've seen the UCLAs go down and come back up. You've seen pretty much everybody in this football league do that. You get some injuries at certain positions, things don't go right - it can happen to anybody in this league. Does it surprise me? Sure, any time that happens. It surprises me that we're 6-3, also. But those things happen in this league, and that's just how it is and that's how it's always going to be. We'll never see a team that's going to be a totally dominant team in this league, year-in and year-out. I'd be more surprised to see that than anything."

(With wet, windy conditions a possibility in Seattle, how much will having a strong running game help? And how much did similar conditions affect your offense last season at Oregon?) "I hope that after they score, the sun doesn't come out like it did in the Civil War last year. I've always said that in November or late in the season, I don't care what level you're at - high school, college or the National Football League - things change the later it gets in the year just because of the weather. Offenses change. I don't know that you see as many points scored, because of the weather and throwing the football and those kinds of things. I believe teams that can run it real well late in the year probably have a better chance to be successful than teams that depend totally on the pass - if you run into that kind of day. There's no guarantee, as we all know living around here, what kind of day it's going to be Saturday. You can read the predictions in the paper and I'm not sure they're right all the time, either. But if you do have bad weather, you've got to be able to run it. Hopefully, our success running the football will help us in these late games. But I do believe you've got to be able to run it if the weather's bad. And when I talk about bad, I mean a downpour. You can throw it if it's raining a little bit and it's wet out there; sometimes it's an advantage to the passing team in that kind of stuff. But when it's a downpour, you've got to be able to run the football.


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