Neuheisel Sunday Conference Call

Coach Rick Neuheisel discussed Sunday what he saw on the tape of the Oregon State game, the improved performance by the defense, the development of Richard Brehaut, Jordan Zuwmalt, and more...

Well, what did you see on the tape?

‘'I think the big thing is a week ago we gave up over 90 plays of offense to Arizona. There were 90 plays. Yesterday, Oregon State had 54. Our defense was much better at getting them off the field and our offense was much better at staying on it, and those things help us eventually. Still lots to get better at, but that really is the tale of the tape.''

What was the biggest difference on defense?

‘'The tackling was terrific and in the second half in particular, especially after that opening drive, we got pressure on the quarterback. We made him move and created a little bit more difficulty in them just picking us apart.''

You mentioned both the defense getting better and the offense staying on the field. Was that almost maybe backward in a way? The offense staying on it keeping guys that we're as experienced off the field?

‘'Yeah, but I think that's taking away from the effort of the defense. I think the defense really improved. I mean, we went from 94 plays to 54 plays and …

Is it easier to improve, though, when they're only on the field for about 12 minutes in the second half?

‘'Well, there's no question. But you still have to play fast, you still have to tackle and, you know, given the disappointment of missing the field goal and going out there and getting a three-and-out, that was huge.''

Can you talk about Richard (Brehaut's) development, especially with the running game?

‘'Another huge, you know, part of the game. The ability for him to make plays on third down with both his legs and his arm. The last third down of the game, that 3rd-and-5 and he hits Taylor (Embree) in the slot was a huge play. There were a couple of third downs, the one that he kind of manufactured a play and flipped it to Cory Harkey on a third-and-12 was maybe one of the best plays of the year so far in terms of a player just creating and that's what you need. Every time you watch SportsCenter that's what quarterbacks are doing all over the country, and it was fun to have it happen to us.''

How far has he come as far as learning the Pistol?

‘'He comes a ways. Now, you can look at the tape and see that he still has a ways to go. But, you know, it's fun to watch his progression and the improvement.''

Where do you think he has a ways to go?

‘'Well, there were a couple times where his eyes aren't where they're supposed to be based on what the defense is and what the route is. He's not starting where he should be. He's not understanding.''

Can you talk about Jordan Zumwalt, the game he had yesterday?

‘'I thought he was terrific. You know, we've been very impressed with Jordan since he got here, with his athleticism. The question is, could he remember to be where he's supposed to be and handle the defense? It was one thing when we were trying to get him some time at Sam to free up Akeem (Ayers) to do some other things, it is another thing when you're trying to get him to be the middle linebacker, to be the guy who makes all the calls. But, you know, he's growing with it and yesterday was a great step in that direction.''

How did he do making the calls?

‘'Well, I haven't had that conversation with Chuck (Bullough). I gave the coaches the day off because we have a bye next week, but my assessment during the game as he was doing terrific.''

Have you thought of what the plan is for him when Patrick (Larimore) comes back? Isn't Patrick going to be back for the next game?

‘'We will evaluate that as this week goes on. Right now Patrick is hopeful and, like you said, we're hopeful that we'll have him for this next game.''

Can you talk about the decision to start Cassius Marsh?

‘'You know, Todd (Howard) felt like Cassius had earned it, that he had played well enough and it was time to take the next step. I haven't studied every play of the defensive front. I've seen the tape in a cursory way, but at first glance he looks like he's doing a great job.''

Any injuries?

‘'You know, some bumps and bruises. Nothing of significance.''

Sheldon (Price) didn't get in …

‘'He was going to be an emergency guy. You know, we had hoped that he would be ready to go and he warmed up and kind of like Nelson (Rosario), you know we thought Nelson was going to be more ready, but both of those guys are still hampered. But hopefully 12 more days will be a huge lift to getting them both back to full speed.''

Can you talk about what this game yesterday could do in terms of momentum going into the final month of the season?

‘'Well, from that standpoint it's huge because certainly there's a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. But we have to focus only on Washington and we have to understand that we're going to have to play better than we did, especially going on the road in what looks to be Jake Locker's last home game. We're going to have to play better than we did yesterday. There were some good things yesterday, especially on the defensive side and in the kicking game, but offensively we have to be more consistent and if we can do that then we can manufacture some points and make November an exciting month for us starting in Seattle.''

Any thoughts on the fumble by Johnathan (Franklin)?

‘'I was disappointed. Johnathan is trying to hit a home run and what he needed to do is just keep on the gas and head to the outside and get us five more yards. Instead he was trying to slow down and beat the safety back inside and he slowed down and the guy put his helmet right on the ball. Fortunately, I think it was Darius Savage that got back on the ball. But those are the kind of things we can't have. The interception was needless. We had a guy open and the ball should have been thrown before he even started to break the pocket.''

Have you thought, you probably haven't, but you went nine minutes in the second half with the ball and just how many points Oregon might have scored in a nine-minute period like that?

‘'(Laughs). I have not pondered that, but it's good that you do. … That's how to turn a positive into a negative quickly. That was beautiful.''

But you both won …

‘'We both won. That's exactly right. There was only one game to win yesterday.''

But you guys don't mind taking your time, I guess, is what I'm getting at …

‘'No, we didn't mind. Drives that finish in touchdowns are key. Now, to take nine minutes and not get any points would have been harder …''

But you took eight minutes on another one and didn't get any points, and that didn't exactly hurt …

‘'No. We're taking time. We're shortening games and given some of the depletion of our roster that's OK.''

How about (Jeff) Locke? He had a huge game yesterday, had some big punts …

‘'Pinned it inside the two and had a couple of touchbacks. Jeff is a very, very valuable player to us. Very, very valuable, and we're thrilled that he's got a couple more years.''

Is he having an All-American caliber season?

‘'No question in my mind.''

Can you talk about (Dietrich) Riley's hit?

‘'Uh, looking for it right now to put on this TV show. It was a great hit.''

Is that the kind of physicality you need at safety?

‘'Yeah, I mean, and you know the other thing about it is he's a freshman. You know, so you put him and Cassius, who you've asked about, and (Owamagbe Odighizuwa) and Seali'I Epenesa and Jordan Zumwalt, those five all true freshman on the field, not sure they were all out there at the same time, but those guys are making an impact on our defense. And Anthony Barr on offense and Malcolm (Jones) on offense … that's a great nucleus of guys to look forward to.''

Is (Derrick) Coleman OK? He was getting very little time in the second half.

‘'He's fine. I wasn't paying close attention to our substitution pattern there.''

Rick, with those freshmen, is this about the time in your experience that freshmen tend to start to rise up, start to learn to play better?

‘'Yeah. I mean, the old thing, you're going with freshmen, right? You start to understand that., hey, it's time to go and feel a little but more comfortable and you've now settled in at school, you know we're half way through the quarter, so they kind of have a rhythm now, so this should be the best time of year for them.''

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