Harbaugh Post-Scrimmage Q&A

After watching the offense have its way with the defense for a second time in two live scrimmages this spring, Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh answered questions from local reporters Saturday in Stanford Stadium. He talked about the performances and highlights on both sides of the ball. Harbaugh also commented on T.C. Ostrander, Alex Loukas, Richard Sherman, Derek Belch and more.

Earlier it looked like you completed a few passes in the Alumni Game...

"Yeah, that was fun.  It was good.  We have had a great response all weekend.  We also had the coaches clinic this weekend, and there was a great turnout.  Then the Stanford Football community was really good, too.  We had guys back from the '40 team.  The Vow Bows.  The '50s.  Guys were back.  We had people sitting in meetings.  They had dinner with us last night and are here again today.  It was a great success, and we're really excited about our second one.  Get some energy bottled up.  And it's so easy because we have the tradition.  We just need to get it into one spot.  I'm pumped up.  I'm really happy about that."

Is the offense way ahead of the defense at this point?

"I wouldn't say that.  Offensively, I like a lot of the things that we're doing, but we have to really tighten things down.  We really have to tighten down the execution.  There were too many penalties and turnovers for my liking.  We just can't win like that.  There were a lot of good things, but we just need to tighten things down."

Defensively, you said that you guys were going to put a lot of emphasis there this spring.  Where would you say this defense is?

"It's been an ebb and flow, offensively and defensively.  Yesterday, they had a heck of a day.  One day they win, and then the offense I thought won today - which isn't all bad.  When you're a head coach, you don't mind seeing that.  Stopping the run still has to be the main focus for our football team.  We didn't do that today like we would have liked.  We have to continue to tackle better.  We're making some great strides, though.  Our team is really starting to play with their hands - getting off blocks, which was really encouraging this week."

Is it disappointing after the defense struggled last scrimmage that they didn't show a better bounce back in this scrimmage?

"I've really been encouraged by our 'Okie' blitz package, which offensively we really struggled with yesterday and avoided getting in those positions today.  You know when it's coming, and I really tried to stay out of it.  It's a look that we're going to see so many times in the Pac-10, especially from UCLA.  So it's great work for both sides of the ball.  That's been really encouraging.  Our offense really struggled with that yesterday.  Offensively we managed to not get in that position today."

What were your highlights today?

"The quarterback play was fantastic, I thought.  I'm really happy with T.C. Ostrander.  He's really progressing really nicely.  He's just so mentally sharp.  It's the way he's spitting out plays.  He's calling audibles.  He's throwing with accuracy, both in the pocket and on the run.  He really seems to be getting a good feel for the offense."

What do you hope to get accomplished in this last week, going into the Spring Game?

"This is going to be a huge week for us, practicing Monday and Tuesday, off Wednesday, and then practicing Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  I really want to see our team finish.  I want to see them play hard.  I know they're hurting.  I want to see them play hurt, and I want to see them play to win this week.  This is going to be a big week.  I want to take it up to another level this week.  It's not going to be easy for them, but it was designed purposely to have guys really grind to finish this spring ball off."

In what areas are Alex Loukas improving?

"Throwing the football.  He had a really good day today.  He just has to use his strengths.  His strengths are that he has a tremendously strong arm, and he can move.  He can run.  He just has to understand what his strengths are, and we as a coaching staff do, too.  Today, I thought he went back, set his feet and fired.  That's what he has done best."

Has he nudged ahead a little for that number two quarterback battle with Tavita Pritchard?

"Yeah, at least off today.  Where it was yesterday, I would have said no, they were dead even.  Neither one of them were rising to the floor.  Just on this scrimmage, I would say he has nudged ahead.  Nudged.  But we still have five [practices] to go.  I really want one of those guys to take the reins there and rise to the floor.  It hasn't happened yet."

Before camp, you said that Richard Sherman has a chance to be your best football player.  Has he validated that these last couple weeks?  He looked like he had a pretty good day today...

"He did a lot of good things today.  The football gods got him because of the way he holds the football when he runs.  It came out, and he put it on the ground today.  He has to put that ball away.  He's coming along.  He's coming along.  I think he's just learning how to play football and get a real feel for the game.  He's still young.  To be one of our best football players, he has to really learn to play the game."

When you put him with Evan Moore and Mark Bradford on the field together, will Stanford have one of the better wide receiver trios in the league?

"I definitely think we have a shot to have the best receiving corps in the Pac-10.  Evan Moore showed some really good things this week.  He's ready; he's just getting out there.  We have some weapons, but they still have a ways to go."

The key is to keep those guys healthy right?  There's a drop-off after them...

"Yeah, but there are some guys closing that gap, though.  #25, Stephen Carr - I think he's doing some really good things.  Blocking.  He caught that nice ball down the sideline.  When he really plays with intensity - if we could really get him to the level...  I don't think even he knows how good he could be yet.  That could probably blanket the entire team.  I don't think even they know how good they can be yet.  We're going to get them to that level where they play with that kind of urgency and intensity every single snap, and he's an example of a guy who like our team can be really good."

Derek Belch - was that his longest kick?

"Derek has been a very bright spot.  He made a heck of a kick today, and the scrimmage last week was really good as well - I think he only missed one kick.  He can kick the ball off pretty well, even though they moved the spot of the kickoffs back to the 30-yardline.  That's going to be big.  Yeah, I'm pretty happy with Derek."

Is he kicking his way into that job right now?

"I would say so.  I don't think there's any question he's our best kicker right now, from what I've seen."

What happens when the freshman, David Green, gets here?

"Whoever is the best kicker.  It's open.  It's always open.  Whoever can kick it through the sticks is going to be our guy, but Derek has been impressive."

Do you think you'll have Anthony Kimble back for the Spring Game?

"I don't know.  I don't even know if that would be wise to say...  Emeka Nnoli has really done some nice things at the tailback position.  Jason Evans had a good day - he's definitely hitting the holes quicker.  Emeka gives us that big back and gives us another dimension.  He's had a helluva spring."

How's the offensive line coming along?

"Good.  They're fighting their way through things.  There's not a lot of depth on the lines.  They're playing hard.  Chris Dalman is doing a heck of a job with those guys.  I'm really happy with Chris, and with our entire staff.  I just love 'em.  I just love our guys.  They're really teaching technique out here.  I'm happy with our staff."

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