Walt Harris San Jose State Post-Game

You can learn a lot about a coach and his frank thoughts on his football team after a bad loss. Walt Harris says that only your "ego" can dictate that a 35-34 defeat to San Jose State is a particularly terrible loss, but his comments on all phases of the team reflect his furstration. Harris commented afterward about turnovers, defending the run and his kicking game. Plus one positive on offense.

Opening statement:

"First of all, I would like to congratulate San Jose State and Dick Tomey for the way they played - the spirit and enthusiasm that they played with.  I thought if you were a fan, it was a tremendous game.  If you were a Stanford fan, we were left wanting.  Obviously we all need to do a better job of getting our players to work on the areas that we need to improve upon.  We obviously need to tackle better.  They can't run the ball right at us.  We need to be able to tackle in space.  We need to be able to make good decisions.  We need to be able to put the ball in there - I'm talking about the quarterback.  We have to be able to put the ball away when you catch a pass.  You have to do the things that help you win and not the ones that cause you to lose.  We obviously have a lot of work to do.  We have a big responsibility next week, opening our new stadium and against a very talented and challenging opponent who can really make it hard on you.  It's really up to the coaches and our seniors to respond.  It's up to every one of our players to work hard on trying to become a lot better football player between now and next Saturday when we play."

Walt, is this the first time since you have been here that turnovers have really hurt you?

"I don't know that it's the first time.  I know that it hurt us in a couple games.  Last year, we were fifth in the nation in turnover ratio going into the fifth game of the season.  It's obviously helped us in a bunch of games.  It obviously hurt us tremendously in this game."

Do you feel that it's just inexperience on the defense - particularly in the run defense - at this point?

"We have been struggling right now with a lot of phases on defense.  We're just not consistent enough.  I'm sure we're going to have to do evaluation.  We're pretty banged up at certain positions, and we obviously have not filled them well enough.  Hopefully we will reevaluate and see if we can get them better or try somebody else and give them a chance."

How much did you feel that the problems for Stanford today were the same ones that hurt last week?

"It's a little different.  Last week we weren't able to run the ball.  [Today] in the second half we ran the ball, though probably not as effective as we needed to.  But we turned the ball over.  What did we have - three turnovers?  For a Stanford Football team that is in our situation, that's how we lose.  And it contributed to our loss in a major way."

You guys got the ball back with 2:12 left.  Did you feel like you were in a perfect position to win?

"Sure.  We have good guys at that part of the game.  We've got a good quarterback; we have good wideouts.  I think you have to give credit to Richard Sherman.  We lost Mark Bradford early in this game, and then Richard Sherman came in and did a really credible job for a true freshman.  He made a nice catch on that drive, and it's just really sad that we didn't get to see the rest of it."

Was it just the big hit that dislodged the ball?

"It all depends upon how you want to look at it.  How the coach looks at it may be different than a fan."

Did the doctors tell you that Mark could not come back, or was that a judgment call that you made to be safe with him?

"They said he could go back, but it would be better if he didn't.  We decided not to, for his well being.  And for ours.  We have a lot of games, still."

With about nine minutes left, you had a fourth down in their territory.  You elected to punt.  Did you give any thought to going for it at that point?  I think the ate like six minutes off the clock with their next drive...

"No.  We have a third-year starting punter who dropped it down in there.  I have the worst seat in the house, but we were really close to downing it inside the 10, which would have been huge.  It was 4th & 8, and I felt like our defense needed a long field.  I also thought we could put it inside the 20 or maybe inside the 10.  I didn't want to give the defense a shorter field to defend."

What do you do going forward with your PAT/field goal placekicking and Aaron Zagory?

"I'm not sure it's all his area.  We had a substitution problem, and that's inexcusable.  You never know what throws those guys off.  We had a penalty, and when you're a first-year kicker, you're trying to gain confidence.  Trying to get it done.  You like to have it run smoothly.  But I don't think that was the difference in the game, by any stretch."

When you were up 20, did you have any sense that you had taken San Jose State out of it emotionally?  Then when they scored before the half, did you feel like their spirits were coming back and the momentum was going their way?

"No.  From my perspective, I knew that there wasn't enough separation because we scored, they scored, we scored, they scored.  I didn't think that we did turn them off emotionally.  We kept them in it emotionally, and then obviously they got back into the game.  I think those drives when they responded to our drives really provided a tremendous amount of momentum for them."

Walt, how deflating is this going into the stadium opener next week?

"You know what?  They played hard.  Football is really a tough game, and I think the deflating part comes if you are some kind of an ego guy.  We lost to a team that played hard.  Our guys I thought played hard.  We just not are quite where we need to be.  We had our chances, too.  We had our chances and just didn't capitalize on them, and look at what happens.  No one likes to lose, but I think that we have to face that we're rebuilding.  We're rebuilding.  Playing a lot of young guys is difficult, but it's the best we have to offer.  We have to make the best of it that we can, keep our egos out of all those things and just deal with the facts, which are that we have a lot of areas to improve.  But we have good kids."

Did you feel that your running game took a step forward today?

"Yeah.  I thought it did - yeah.  I thought our line had a good game.  I thought that we probably missed some reads, but I thought that our backs ran hard.  What did we rush for?  185 yards.  If we sat here a week ago and said that we would rush for 185 and would lose, I would probably say 'probably not.'  So what's my point?  My point is that I thought we were fairly good both halves but got sloppy.  We had a penalty that was big.  We missed a post route that was wide open.  We turned the ball over three times.  And there it is.  The game is over.  It doesn't take many times."

In your coaching experience, how do you explain those kinds of turnovers in the second half?

"Sloppy.  Sloppy and not committed to the fundamentals of the game.  And we didn't coach them well enough.  It starts with me.  It's not all them; it's me and our coaches."


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