Walt Harris Washington Post-Game

It's been a while since you read the post-game press conference quotes of Walt Harris following a Stanford win. After the Cardinal's shocking 20-3 upset at Washington on Saturday, the head coach heaped heartfelt praise onto his players and coaches. Despite a new rash of injuries and challenges, Harris sees buy-in that bought a big win for the Stanford team.

Opening statement:

"I couldn't be more proud of the way our players played, primarily and especially our seniors.  It's really easy to go through the adversity that those guys have gone through and not put your best foot forward.  But all year long our guys have worked hard and worked to become a better football team, and finally today it showed.  My hat is off to our seniors as well as the rest of our football players because even those young freshman are not used to not winning, and they have done a great job of working hard, trying to get better and trying to learn what it's like to be Division I football players.  A lot of guys sacrificed.  I thought our coaching staff did a great job of getting our guys ready to play.  With the help of our seniors, we fought through a lot of adversity and we played well today."

"We struggled on offense making short yardage, but our defense did an outstanding job.  We made some plays on offense, and I think when you play good defense, you always have a chance to win.  In most situations, we played the kicking game well, which was very very helpful.  I think our defense really stopped the run, controlled the pass and did an outstanding job."

Walt, how big was it to go into the half tied?

"It was really big.  We got sacked, which was unfortunate.  We were down on the four-yardline and got sacked and had the ball back on the 14.  I just felt with a young kicker - and I also felt going in at halftime [tied] would be huge  because that hasn't happened for a long time for this football team.  That is a hard spot to kick with a right-footed kicker and that wind that they have down at that open end.  That's what went through our mind, and that is why we decided to do what we did.  I thought being tied at halftime would be really the best thing that could happen.  Not the best thing, but it would be good for our guys to come away with a tie at halftime.  I thought it would give us hope, and that is what we needed.  And that is what we got."

(Question inaudible)

"I think our guys were really into it, and I think that has been the hardest thing for our football team.  We have had so much bad luck, the ball bouncing the other way, and today it bounced our way in more situations then it had the entire season.  It got the momentum on the sidelines.  Our guys really played well; our guys were really fighting.  I thought there were a lot of guys on defense that stepped up and really played dynamite today."

"I thought T.C. Ostrander stood in there and did an outstanding job of managing the clock.  I thought he made some key third-down throws and some beautiful throws to Richard Sherman.  I thought Richard did a nice job in his maturing process, learning how to be a Division I football player."

What can you say about Bo McNally's performance?  Finds out he's going to start late in the week, comes back and gets two interceptions...

"Behind every interception is some really good pressure and a good call.  He played it well.  The guys underneath who covered him tight made the quarterback have to try to put a perfect throw, and he wasn't able to do that.  And Bo made a play and ran it down for a touchdown.  That's the first touchdown in a long time, so that was great.  We were all whooping it up on the sidelines.  It was very, very exciting.  It was just a great special teams victory.  Doesn't matter if it was the defense scoring, offense scoring, special teams scoring - we were scoring and that's what was great."

Walt, what does this feel like for you personally?  364 days since you got a win, and to get a win when few people expected you to get one.

"This is all about our team.  This is not about me, so let's talk about our team."

With all the stuff you did on the depth chart with guys who were hurt and guys who weren't going to start this week, were you at all surprised they came out and give this kind of effort today?

"No, because they practice hard.  Really, there's a lot of guys – Alex Fletcher didn't play a down today; we had Mikal Brewer at center, Preston Clover at guard.  Jeff Edwards was back in the lineup; Chris Marinelli didn't make the trip.  So it's been one of those years where injuries have been a challenge, and I couldn't be more proud of those guys who haven't played and came in and played, as well as defensive guys like Bo McNally.  I thought Chris Horn played well; Pannel [Egboh] did some really good things.  Obviously Michael Okwo was all over the field.  Brandon Harrison, Trevor Hooper, Wopamo [Osaisai].  We played without Tim Sims; Wopamo played without hardly practicing at all."

Did you sense a recharged Michael Okwo, and could you take us through what happened this week?
[Note: Okwo did not play the first set of downs, but entered for the rest of Washington's opening drive and played the rest of the afternoon.]

"That's great for Mike.  He's an outstanding football player, and I think it's been a learning experience for everybody – not just Mike, but for some other people.  When you go through a tough season like we've gone through, there's going to be some challenges along the way, but I think we're a better football team because of that situation.  I think he felt better about it, and I know it felt better with a lot of guys on that team who can relate with him.  I know everyone has a renewed belief in what we're trying to get done here.  When you don't win, it's really hard to believe this is the right way to go.  But today, it proved.  We stuck to our knittings, so to speak.  We kept pounding the rock, kept chopping wood - kept, kept at it and we came away with a 20-3 victory.  How about that?"

Walt, I know you don't want to talk about yourself, but do you feel relief?

"The only part where I feel relief is when they record the longest losing streaks, and we're going to be out of the news.  I'm happy because we have too great of a school to be in that group."

Does a win feel sweeter after a long drought?

"It feels great, and I don't want to feel that long drought ever again if that's possible."

Did the defense do anything differently today?  The three points they put up is a lot different than the numbers they put up earlier in the season.

"I think we've been getting better, and how we've gotten better is with our assignments and understanding what were trying to do.  A.J. Christoff is a great coach, and it showed today.  We had a great plan, and we executed the plan in most situations.  They had some balls that were really close to being caught - I thought the wind and the weather had something to do with it - but we fought with them and got it done.  You could tell on some of their throws that the wind had an effect."

"I think the key of any defense is if you can shut down the run game, so they decide that's not how they want to win because there's so many iffy things in the passing game.  Protection, multiple coverages, routes, wind, finding the right guy - it gets a lot harder.  So anytime you can run, it's a lot easier.  I think stopping the run was the winning edge of our defense."

How big of a void did Richard Sherman step in and fill today?  How confident do you feel in him going forward?

"Richard Sherman did an outstanding job.  He's a young freshman, but he has a great heart and a good work ethic and he'll continue to improve."

How would you evaluate T.C.'s play?

"I thought he continued to get better.  Each week, I thought he's gotten better and better.  It's always easier to continue to improve off a win."


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