David Shaw: I personally was fighting back tears. Just to see Chris lying on the ground again. The good thing is he was conscious, he was fine, they had already made the decision to put him on the stretcher so they had to take him. He's already back in the locker room and he's fine. He's excited to be back and we'll talk about whether or not he'll play anytime soon at a later date.
Do you have a policy on that, when a guy can return?
DS: Oh yeah, there are a lot of checks he's got to pass in order to get back on the field and we're going to make sure he passes all of those before he plays.
Did you get any sense he wasn't closing the door on his career and was open to the possibility…
DS: I said we're going to talk about that stuff at a later date.
There's no potential he could come back in a week, though…
DS: With concussions they're fickle. They change. He had one a couple of weeks ago and gosh, by Monday he was great. He still hadn't passed all the tests yet but he felt great. So we will be overly cautions, I'll tell you that, we'll be overly cautions with Chris Owusu.
Have you had players over the course of your career who have had multiple concussions, and dealing with that?
DS: Absolutely, if you're around this game long enough it happens.
What happened with Levine?
Levine, that's us being cautious again. There was no concussion for Levine, there was no shoulder dislocation, none of that stuff, we'll just say he got dinged. And we wanted to make sure, he should be up and ready to go next week. We want to be as cautious as we can, especially for a guy like Levine, we need him and we were going to make sure nothing else happened to him so we kept him out.
How significantly does Owusu not being on the field affect the offense, affect what you guys can do?
DS: We're going to call the plays that we thing are going to work. Ty Montgomery is a proven commodity right now, Griff Whalen's a proven commodity right now, Coby Fleener is a proven commodity. We have guys that can play, so we're not going to change our gameplan without Chris…Now he still might be back next week. He's not ‘out-out' yet. I'll let you know.
Now that you guys have secured this win, what's the magnitude of the Ducks coming to town?
DS: The magnitude, I don't know…It's big. It's the Pac-12 North game, it's not done by any stretch of the imagination for the winner of next week's game, but at the same time, it's a big game. It's at our house, they've earned the right to be the defending champions of our conference, that's what they are. We're going to try to give them our best game.
You got some big pressure from Ben Gardner on a three-man rush when the game was still 17-13 then you scored then you had a sack by Chase, that was a pretty pivotal point in the game, getting pass rush on Mannion?
DS: I'll tell you what. Every road game you can credit our defense. Every single road game we've started slow on offense, and every single road game our defense has kept us in the game. That's just the way that it's been all year. Ben Gardner makes the effort plays. He was blocked, he just doesn't stay blocked, Chase Thomas, outstanding pressure tonight. Gosh, Trent Murphy, he came off the edge for a huge sack. Michael Thomas blitzed a couple of times and got in there. The pressure was great, but the pressure only is great if the coverage holds up. And the coverage held up a few times just long enough for us to get to the quarterback. Those defensive guys got us back in the game and then offensively we started moving the ball and running and throwing and got back to our style of football.
Looking ahead to next week, what does the team need to do against Oregon that it didn't do last year?
DS: Gosh, we can't turn the ball over, we have to play 60 full minutes. We can't play 58, we can't play 30 like we did last year. Offensive, defense, kicking game, you have to play 60 minutes against a great team, and that's what they are.
Is this game an example of why a power running game is so important? This was a close game for longer than maybe most people expected, but eventually you wore them down.
DS: You could say that I guess. We're pretty big up front and skilled as well. Either guard can pull. We can run counters and leads and dives and all kinds of stuff. Coach Bloomgren has put together a really good game plan. I wouldn't say that we necessarily try to wear people out, we just try to run our offense and keep them off-balanced and mix in our play-action game. The game was close early on because we dropped two touchdown passes. Flat out had them in our hands and we didn't catch them. That happened two in the first half and one in the second half. We have to make those plays in order to beat a team like Oregon, you can't miss opportunities.
Andrew shrugged off the relative importance of next week as one of the reasons he maybe came back as I suggested. He kind of shrugged that off saying it's not one of the big reasons why he's back. Are you worried on this last go around that he doesn't press perhaps more than he otherwise would for a big game like this?
DS: No. I worried more about our team's psyche for this game than Oregon. Our guys are going to be focused, our guys are mature. Our guys know it's going to take their best game to win. I'm not worried about it, we're just going to make sure we practice the right things, make sure we practice the schemes and techniques that we want to execute. We're going to go out next week and earn our confidence going into next week.
With Corey Gatewood switching to defensive back, what was the rationale behind that move, and do you foresee that being a permanent thing?
DS: Just like every team in America we've gotten banged up. We've got some guys that are playing through some things and Corey Gatewood has played well at corner. We took him on offense last year for his speed, and we needed him back on defense. He's gone out there and done a great job. He's physical, he's come up and made tackles. He got his hands on the ball today. We're excited about his future. He's one of those guys that has the ability to be an impact football player on either side of the ball.
Something you and the players always talk about is getting better every single week and throughout every single game. Do you feel like you got better in this game?
DS: I don't know that we got better. I think that we played better in the second half than in the first half. I'm trying not to draw lines but at the same time we didn't make enough plays in the first half, once again speaking offensively. The defense did a good job, they got one good drive on us. We blocked a field goal at the end of the half, which was awesome, I believe Coby Fleener blocked that. But we have to take advantage of opportunities, and that will be the thing that we can hopefully look for from this week to next week is that we make the plays when they're there for us to make them, which we had done most of the time before this game. We didn't make them today. Forget about the rain, forget about the cold, that doesn't matter. When that ball goes up, it's supposed to be ours.
Mike Riley and the coaching staff seemed to be concerned about Owusu but they argued the penalty call vociferously on the sideline. Is it tough coaching right in this kind of iffy era we are with concussions and what's a penalty, what's not?
DS: It shouldn't be tough. We've heard from all of the officials form the NCAA, our conference. If it's close then they're going to call it. And I don't think that one was close. They have to call it. In order for us to make that game as safe as it can be, when it's going to be close, we have to call that so we can teach our guys how to make tackles, not so high, not close to the head, so this game can be as safe as it can be. So they have to make that call. And I will say this: the young man that made that hit came up to me and apologized. I put my arm around him and said hey, don't worry about it, just play. Play hard. It happens in this game, and it's hard. It's a split second decision between ducking your head and barely missing the guy's head or getting helmet-to-helmet. I'm not going to say it's easy, it's hard, but when it's close, the officials have told us they have to call it.
Was [Shaw's brief talk with Jordan Poyer, the Beaver player who delivered the hit on Owusu] after the game?
DS: No, it was on the field right afterwards. I went to check on Chris, I saw that Chris was conscious, Chris was talking. That young man came up to me and I said, ‘Hey, I understand, just keep playing.'
Will Delano Howell be back for you guys next game?
DS: I hope so.
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