Neuheisel Sunday Conference Call

The media asked questions of Coach Rick Neuheisel in a Sunday conference call. He talked about the issues that he feels are at the top of the list to fix, the situation at quarterback and tailback, and more...

Opening statement

‘'Been better, but excited about getting ourselves back to playing good football.''

You said last night that you were going to have to fix what has been ailing you guys, in looking at the film, what is it you've concluded is ailing you?

‘'Well, offensively, we have got to do a better job of throwing and catching and converting third downs. Our running game has been pretty good and can get better, but we've got to do a better job of converting third downs and throwing and catching the football, and that has to happen. We can't turn it over. We had too many fumbles last night and just can't afford turnovers, you know.

‘'Defensively, we can get better at some of our gap integrity. Our inside front seven have got to be in their gaps and playing efficient football in there so that we can get them into third down situations, and when we get them into third down we have to be able to get them off the field. I thought the Luck kid last night was really good at making first downs with his legs. Our coverage was really good at times and yet he got out of trouble and make a number of plays with his legs that cost us and kept drives alive.

‘'And then in the special teams department, we've got to do a good job of understanding field position. The opening punt return last night, it was horrible that we let that ball bounce 30 yards and put us down on the 10-yard line, which switched the field position when it landed about the 40. So there's some things we can address in all facets of the game.

‘'Our organization, you know, we had a couple of penalties where we were trying to match their substitution and didn't get it done. We had to use a timeout because we have a punt returner out there on third down. Those things we have to fix and make sure we fix them as fast as this Saturday.''

You mentioned doing a better job throwing and catching, but what is it that's not getting done? Is it a personnel thing? Is it a scheme thing?

‘'You can't put your finger on one thing. It's execution. Whether it's the quarterback misfiring, throwing to an open receiver, the quarterback not getting through his read to the open receiver, protection. It's a number of things. We just have to get better at throwing the football. And we've been better at throwing the football, and been better with these guys, so it's a little bit alarming that this is going on right now, but we'll get it fixed.''

Is Kevin (Prince) still your starter?

‘'We haven't made that determination yet.''

Do you have a timeframe on that?

‘'We'll see. You know, we'll watch practice. The effectiveness of the quarterback position is critical, so we want to make sure that we've got somebody out there that knows what he's doing and can do it well.''

With Kevin, is it a health thing with him or is it a performance thing?

‘'Well, I want to make sure that it's … at the end of the day as long as his health is good, obviously, it's going to come down to performance. We'll wait and see what the health situation is, but to date the performance hasn't been what it needs to be.''

Rick, is there any second-guessing of yourself there about Kevin, judging his readiness to play?

‘'I question myself all the time. But, you know, I know why I chose what I chose. I can't go back and switch it.''

Is he getting looked at in any way, with any tests or anything on the shoulder?

‘'You know, we're dealing with some basic soreness and I don't think it's one of those things that requires an MRI.''

Rick, what about the (Ricky) Marvray penalty?

‘'Ricky had two penalties, which one are you talking about?''

The second one, after the (Malcolm) Jones run …

‘'He made a block down the field, kind of a peel-back block. It wasn't necessary. It just wasn't a necessary block. You like that he likes to play and that he's playing with all that energy and excitement, but he's got to have more discipline than that. We'll fix that.''

At running back, first of all, how is Derrick (Coleman) doing?

‘'Derrick is fine. He's out of the hospital. He's here today. He's sore. He's got a little bit of a neck sprain, I don't know the significance of it, and a little bit of a mild concussion. But I think he'll be back shortly.''

How did (Johnathan) Franklin and Jones run last night?

‘'They give you different things. Johnathan has got the quickness to get through holes and then Malcolm has got the power. It's a nice combination. Both those guys are doing well running the football. We need them both to improve in the blocking department, and we'll work on that this week, too.''

Is that what Coleman gives you over the other two, better blocking?

‘'Derrick is a very accomplished blocker. He's also a good running back. I would say, if you just knew you were going to be blocking, that Derrick would be the guy in the game.''

How is the rest of your injury situation? How is Kai (Forbath) doing today?

‘'He's fine.''

Any other significant injuries?


(Aaron) Hester came out of that OK with the ankle?

‘'Yeah, he's fine. And (Justin) Edison I guess has a mild knee sprain, but nothing that's going to keep him out of practice, is what I'm told.''

Was there any indication through camp that maybe there were some glitches with the Pistol?

‘'Well, we didn't have anybody to practice it against. But I don't … why we're struggling is not because of the Pistol. It has nothing to do with the Pistol. It has to do with the fact that we just are not throwing and catching and we've had ill-timed procedure penalties and ill-timed penalties that keep drives from going. Ricky Marvray's two penalties last night are both first downs inside the 15-yard line, and they're brought back outside the 30. I mean, we've just got too eliminate stupid mistakes.''

But, still, you were saying you've had this personnel that has thrown the ball well before and this personnel is out there. The only change is the Pistol …

‘'And the other thing being, you know, Kevin not being in camp. I'm done making any more excuses, but that's also a factor.''

When you look at Kevin this week, will it be something where you have to see if he's healthy enough and if he's healthy he'll play, or is it …

‘'You know, I think we've made it clear to the quarterbacks, and Norm (Chow) has made it clear to those guys, that we have to play the position better, and obviously, there will be competition.''

What did you see out of Richard last night?

‘'Some good things and still some things that, you know, he's got to do better at. I mean, he had one formation he didn't get put together right. He had a ball that looked like he just forgot what the guy was running and threw a route that we didn't have on that particular throw. Those are the kind of things, we have to grow up and we have to do a better job of coaching, to make sure this doesn't continue.''

Anybody that jumps out that you're happy with?

‘'Uh, there were some good efforts in the game. But when you get beat 35-0, you don't focus on that. We focus on being a much better football team and giving our fans something to be proud of the next chance we get to play in front of them.''

Got an early take on Houston?

‘'Very talented team. I don't know exactly what their final scores were, but they've scored a ton of points. They're a very explosive football team and juts like this past week, they have one of the top quarterbacks in the country and it's going to be another very, very, tough challenge, especially given where we are right now. It's going to require all hands on deck rising up and finding a way.''

Coming out of the spring Kevin was the No. 1 quarterback and then was No. 1 coming into training camp, and then he got hurt … Is this a point where there's been a regression at the quarterback position?

‘'Well, I can only point at what the numbers are. I mean, we're 4 of 22 in third-down conversions. You can't win football games doing that – 4 of 22 in two games. We've got to get better.''

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