Walt Harris Oregon State Post-Game

At the end of a 30-7 loss to Oregon State, another home defeat for Stanford in 2006, Walt Harris talked about the Cardinal's positive start yet great disappointment in mistakes afterward. The defense had lapses in the first half, while the offense failed to hit the big plays or pass protect in the second half. Harris deflected excuses and explained what was needed to beat the Beavers.

You guys get the defensive stop.  You score on the second play on offense, coming off the win last week.  Was it a pretty good vibe on the sideline at that point?

"Yeah.  God, it was great.  That's what we've been working, and they've been practicing hard to try to get in that position.  But we had some mistakes on defense in the first half, and obviously we had some mistakes on offense, too.  We missed some big passes, some bombs, which we thought had a chance.  When you play a team that plays like they play, with those corners playing tight coverage, you have to hit those if you want to stay in the game."

Walt, what happened with the pass protection early in the second half?

"They turned up the pressure, and we had some guys who made some mistakes.  I'm sure they might have physically beaten us at times.  I think our quarterback was throwing off his back heels after a while.  He was hit pretty good."

Do you think T.C. Ostrander was hurting in the second half?

"Oh, there's no question that he was.  No question.  But he's a tough guy.  I thought other than that one throw there at the end where we missed Emeka [Nnoli], which had they picked up the flag would have been a touchdown...  He was either throwing it away if he missed it, or he put it on there.  A couple of those 'go' throws, he was right there.  We just have to make the plays."

Walt, how difficult is it going through the home season without being successful and getting a win?

"It's really difficult.  It's as difficult as anything personally I have had to experience.  I'm sure, from our players' standpoint, it's as difficult as anything they have had to experience in the area of football.  We have a lot of work to do here, and we're committed to trying to do it right.  One play at a time, one step at a time."

What comment do you have on the low attendance today?

"I have enough things to worry about without that part.  That's not really my area, other than I'm sure that we're responsible, to a degree.  I can't be worried about my attendance.  My job is to try to get our football players better."

There were mistakes you said that the defense was making.  Were any of those out of fatigue, with Oregon State having the ball so long and running Yvenson Bernard constantly?

"No, I think we just made some mental errors.  They're good, so we have to be sharp.  We just were a little less than sharp, and against a good team, you have to be really sharp.  We didn't get the same pressure on the quarterback that we did last time we played, and we let them off the hook.  They made some third-down conversions where we felt that we were in position but just didn't get it done."

How did you feel about the effort today?

"I thought the effort was good.  I was really proud of what our defense did.  They had one goalline stand and made them kick a field goal.  Then this last one, that could have gone either way.  I thought that was a very courageous performance at the end of the game."

What did you think of Jay Ottovegio's run on the fake punt?

"That was a great job by Jay.  He's a double threat.  That was a great job by Jeff Hammerschmidt, who coaches our special teams.  That was too bad because that was hope.  I think the score was still within reach then, but unfortunately we threw an interception in the endzone, which I will take responsibility for."

When you are missing the big plays after hitting some last week, is inexperience any part of that?

"No, I think we just have to make the catch.  We have to make the throw; we have to make the catch.  We had a deep 'post' where we didn't throw it quite well enough - we have to make the catch.  We had a couple 'go' routes, one right on the sideline where we had it and didn't bring it down.  We had one going the same way where we didn't quite bring it down.  When you play the way they play on defense, you have to hit those.  If you watch the Southern Cal game, Southern Cal got back in the game because they hit them.  They hit them; they caught them.  This is the type of team where you have to hit those plays.  We hit them last year.  We hit a couple touchdown passes last year.  Of course, we didn't play against that running back last year, and then the quarterback got better."

Walt, what do you need to do the next two weeks to recharge the batteries for Cal?

"We're pretty consistent that way, other than because of Thanksgiving and the way the game falls.  We're going to practice Wednesday and Thursday and let them have Thursday afternoon off and Friday off, then be back for a 2 o'clock practice on Saturday.  We're doing that because we have a game.  It wasn't or doing that we have a game at that time.  In football, you have to practice.  You can't let them go.  We have a lot of kids who are a long way from home, so we're going to have a Thanksgiving dinner for them as a team.  I'm sure a lot of other guys because they have more time, will be able to get to either their home or somebody else's home.  It's really important that they spend time with the people who love them, besides us, so we're trying to make that happen.  It's unfortunate that we're having a game where it is."

It's not the last game of the season, but it's the last game at home for these Stanford seniors.  A lot of them looked pretty emotional afterward.  Do you say anything to them in the post-game locker room speech, or anything to any of them individually?

"I'm going to talk about the seniors after the last game - the last last game.  I know it's disappointing for a lot of the guys.  They have done a lot of good things.  I thanked them, right from the get-go.  I thanked them for everything they have done this year.  But we have to move on.  We can't dwell on it."


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