Notes & Quotes: Sun Bowl, Take 1

Hear from Coach Jim Harbaugh, tailback Toby Gerhart, quarterback Tavita Pritchard and end Thomas Keiser after the 31-27 loss to Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. The Bootleg was on the scene and, with an assist from Sun Bowl media relations, has the press conference word for word for your perusal. Stay tuned for Oklahoma's comments plus plenty of first-hand observations and notes.

Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh

I thought our football team played as hard as well as they possibly could. I told them that in the locker room that I was proud of them. They played as hard as they could and did everything they could. I would have liked a different result, but the way we played today and all season – I'm proud of it.

I wish I could have put us in better situations, especially in the second half. But he did what he does, which is compete and make plays. He did a great job of running out there and leading our football team. I'm sad I'm not going to work with him anymore. Hopefully one of these days our paths will cross again. I'd hope to coach with him. I love him. He's a wonderful person and he made some big plays. I wish we could have been a little better in the second half, put our guys in a better situation; move the ball score points.

Overall, Toby ran hard and the line blocked well against some tough looks from OU. They have a heck of a defense.

Oklahoma has a heck of a defense. Our guys fought as hard as they could. They've been to the top of the mountain, looked over and seen what's on the other side and said, "This is where we want to be."

They have a heck of a defense, yeah, probably the best we've played this year. I'm really impressed with their secondary. They have tremendous athletes who were creating physical collisions out there. They did a good job hitting. I envision our secondary playing like that one day; that's what we want.

The last play was a sprint-out to Griff Whalen to get two yards. It's a run/pass check. They started in quarters, so Tavita killed the run and checked to a pass, but then they rolled into cover 2, which is not ideal for the pass play we had. But we hit it earlier in the game for about 40 yards to Whalen.

I know when I look at the film, I'll see things I would have done differently, but right now, I don't know what they were, otherwise we would have done them. But Oklahoma's passing was the difference in the game, really, because our defense shut down the run, stuffed them running the football, but they beat us in the passing game. Too many big plays, too many easy plays, too many yards in the passing game.

The only flag I saw on that punt was a push in back; that was the only thing illegal. I thought it was a beautifully-timed hit by Bademosi, but I will see replay and see if my eye is right. I usually pride myself in my eye for those things. I thought he timed it up perfectly; hit, fumble, and a penalty on them for a push in the back. The way I heard it was there was receiver interference but there was a push to cause the interference.

Ekom Udofia hurt his knee. Not enough to take him out of the game but we'll see. It might be a meniscus; it's on the lateral side of the knee. But he came back into the game.

We need to come back and get stronger, more athletic and get all the things that football teams need, but those in particular: faster and more athletic.

Who knows [if we could have won with Andrew Luck.] I thought Tavita played an outstanding game. I thought his preparation was very good all week going into this game. Our passing game wasn't as good as OU's. That was the difference. I don't think that's on Tavita though. He played well.

Let's face it: OU's a darn good football team. They beat us and I give them credit. But I like where our program is going. I appreciate the players who played this year. I thought did everything all season long and today we asked from them.

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart

What did you see different from Oklahoma in the second half?

I'm not sure. I think I saw the same thing. They're a good defense that came to play. We had to chip away. I had one big one but it was not enough. … We had a chance. We had ball with two minutes to go but weren't able to capitalize. You're sad because you don't want to end your season on a losing note, but it's an honor to play with all these guys. Next year we should improve because we're mostly young guys, all of us, get back and put it together for next year.

Is this the best defense you've played against?

They're a good, probably a great defense. They're definitely one of the top we've played so far. It's a credit to them.

Was the use of the direct snap an adjustment?

We put that in three weeks ago. It was hard in that one end zone with the bands and led to one false start, but we incorporated it all week to add as a game changer.

Is there any chance you come back next year?

I'm not sure yet. My focus was entirely on this game. I'll talk about it with the coaches and my family and decide where to go from there.

Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard

Talk about your game and the program

I felt alright. Obviously, I would have liked a different result. I loved the way these guys, my teammates, fought. The coach and this program are going in the right direction. There are a couple of plays I want back personally. Maybe I was a little too amped at the beginning of the game.

At the end of the game, what were you telling your teammates on the sidelines?

I was just telling them it's an honor to play for all of them. I love the way they fought this game and this season. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world. I really enjoyed my time here.

What if a Stanford touchdown weren't nullified by penalty; that would have been a big play?

It's tough to gauge penalties. It definitely would have been a big play and there definitely was a lot that could have gone either way.

On the first pick:

That first pick, I'm anxious to see it. I think there was a deep safety and I thought the pass would intersect in front of him. I don't know if I read it wrong or if he made a really, really good break. I want some of them back.

Can you talk about the last play?

It was a run/pass option. Like Coach said, there's also a run; that was the first play call. They're a good defense … it's a credit to them. There was a quick out from the slot and a hook from the outside guy. I sprint to it so there's a run/pass option. But they played it really well. They rolled into a cover two and they overloaded that side of the defense. I tried to buy more time by rolling but it didn't work out.

On the long completion to Ryan Whalen:

I got hit as I threw. He made a great play getting open. I was just trying to bide time running toward sideline, but I didn't see it because I got hit.

On struggles on third down:

Again, I have to watch the tape, but my initial feeling is that we needed to do better on first and second downs. We got into too many third and longs, third and seven plus. My feeling right now is Oklahoma stays vanilla on first and second down, but when you get to third down, they bring stuff. So third and long, you need to stay out of that.

Stanford defensive end Thomas Keiser

Were you proud of the way the defense played?

I was proud of the way our defense played. I thought we played hard and I know we're going to look back on this game and see the plays that we could have, should have made, but overall I was proud. We played locked in. Jones was good, we knew coming in he was a good quarterback. … But the effort was there.

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