Sunday Call with Neuheisel

Rick Neuheisel goes over the Utah game, talks about remaining in first place in the Pac-12 South, and talks about the final home game against Colorado...

Q: Was there any sort of solace that by the time you guys landed you were still in control of your destiny in the South Division?

A: The players certainly knew. The players, with all their devices, had been keeping track. But we are not going to deviate from one game at a time. Certainly last night's performance is plenty enough motivation to come back and play with everything we've got this weekend for the final home game for our seniors and I just hope we'll respond just as we have before when we've suffered a setback. That we come back with a vengeance and play well the next week.

Q: But it's kind of the quirkiness of the conference- usually at this point you'd be looking at 3rd or 4th place, but you're in it.

A: We're in it. And we are excited about trying to stay in it.

Q: What do you make of this division?

A: I think there's a lot of parity in this league. Obviously there were two teams this year, SC is obviously a very talented team as well, but there were two teams that just got out and kind of ran away. They had a game last night where Oregon looked like they've taken control. But everybody else I think can beat everybody else.

Q: I know you like the one game at a time approach, but don't you have to start using the conference race as motivation?

A: Listen, I can talk til I'm blue in the face, but it's not like these kids aren't aware. They know. It's just what we focus on. Like I said, they all knew that the race was still yet to be determined when we landed last night. But what we focus on, what we talk about, and what we spend our time on- it's really important that we focus on the Colorado Buffaloes and how to execute offensively, defensively and in the kicking game against them. And playing our best game not only for our program but also as tribute to our seniors. That's what I want to focus on. And making sure that when we get to the stadium on Saturday we're not only physically but very mentally ready to play.

Q: With all their devices, could you tell when Washington State went ahead?

A: It wasn't on the plane, but while we were transitioning from plane to bus, but the murmuring was going about.

Q: Send any flowers to Paul Wulff?

A: No, Paul is a good coach. They've gotten better this year. Now all Paul's thinking about is Utah.

Q: How's Derrick Coleman's hip?

A: I think he'll be fine. We'll wait and see. But we've got our fingers crossed that he'll be ready to go.

Q: Kevin Prince come out of that game ok?

A: Yeah, he's fine.

Q: Did you think about pulling him at some point in the fourth quarter when the game got our of reach?

A: No, that was not a situation to put Brett Hundley into.

Q: But you had Nick Crissman there too.

A: And, it was not a situation, you know, a cold night like that to put Nick or Richard Brehaut into the game like that. I didn't think that was the prudent thing to do either. I wanted Kevin to finish a drive and get himself jump started so that we can get going again and get back to playing like we had in the last couple of weeks when we were playing winning football. And hopefully we can get back to that as quickly as this week.

Q: What happened to the edge you guys had the last two weeks?

A: I think defensively we played pretty darn well for much of the game. They made some big plays and won the field position battle. Their punter packed it inside the one on that one drive. The tale of the tape was just getting too many first and 15's. There were too many first and 15's, and not being able to control the ball and get the ball in. We had three drives that got inside of the 25 and didn't get a touchdown. That's the first time that's happened. And no excuses, but the field and the inability to use our speed was part of it.

Q: Do you plan to get Richard in team activity this week?

A: I do.

Q: Thoughts about playing Colorado? That's got to bring back some memories.

A: Oh no question. And fond memories. And especially with Jon Embree being the head coach there. He's a great friend and it's an interesting match up with Taylor Embree being on our team and going to be introduced on senior day.

Q: Did you ever figure out if Jon's going to be on the field when Taylor gets introduced?

A: No, I'm going to let Jon decide that. I've got enough to worry about this week.

Q: Have you ever come up with a reason or a solution to the difficulties the team has bringing ball carriers down?

A: There's no question we can do better in stopping the run. And ultimately that will be the challenge this week. Rodney Stewart is a very talented back and we're going to have to get him down, no question.

Q: What do you see on the tape when these guys are breaking off these runs?

A: We played very well last night but there was one package we didn't play well in and I don't want to talk about what package it is because I don't want our next opponent to do it. But we're going to have to come up with some more answers in that package. We can tackle better, though, if that's the question.

Q: Did you feel you were getting the push up front that you need?

A: We played hard last night. That's not an issue. We played hard. We didn't make the plays that we needed to offensively to get things into balance. Then the field position then got going in their direction and they made 3rd down conversions when they needed to. That was ultimately the tale of the tape.

Q: Were these "murmurs" you were talking about, were they loud ones when you were transitioning from plane to bus?

A: No.

Q: When did you find out you were still in first place?

A: Same time.

Q: On your device?

A: No. I was not equipped. I was told by some people who were paying close attention.

Q: Relatives of yours?

A: No, not relatives of mine. They didn't travel with me.

Q: I didn't know if they texted you. They were very pleased at the end of that game.

A: I'm glad to hear it. You know, what we need to do is go play our best game this weekend, and the rest of it will take care of itself.

Q: Does it help you as a coach that Colorado won last night?

A: For years I've wondered if that makes a difference, whether or not it gets your team up. I know this, Colorado's going to come in here and play great. They're going to be excited to play. Like every team that comes here, there's going to be a bunch of kids from LA. Like every team that comes here, they're going to be excited to play in the Rose Bowl. The head coach's son is on our team. I used to coach there. There's going to be a lot of motivation for them to finish their season with a bang. And to come and beat UCLA at the Rose Bowl would be a terrific deal, and put two in a row, and so on and so forth. But we have a lot to play for as well. And we just have to go out and play our best game. And that's the focus of the week and that's what we're going to do as coaches, is create a great game plan or one that's as good as we can muster up and then go coach our tails off to make sure it's executed as well as possible.

Q: When they broke the conference into divisions, with Stanford and Oregon in the North, did you think that it made the road a little easier?

A: I don't know exactly what I thought. It was broken up into the geographic, logical way to do it. I think that's where my thinking stopped. I was part of the Big-12 when they first started. And there was a time when the Big-12 North was the power. Colorado and Kansas and Nebraska, my first year in 1995, all had ten wins. We were the power, and now it's transitioned to the south. Well, now it's back to a ten team league, but it transitioned to the Oklahoma, Texas side of things. These things have a way of going back and forth. I didn't look at it as a power base and an easier road for us. And the other thing is when it first did it, I didn't know who we'd be playing anyway. I just knew we would be playing some of the teams.

Q: But just the fact that for this season Oregon and Stanford were preseason top-10 teams…

A: I did not, but it's not as though I'm not aware that they are really good teams. I just didn't look at it that way.

Q: Would it be weird for you as a five loss team to be playing for the championship of the Pac-12?

A: I went to the Rose Bowl as a senior at 6-4-1 and we did just fine.

Q: Who won that Rose Bowl game?

A: As I recall, we had more points than Illinois.

Q: One more?

A: Just a little more.

Q: How far is Richard from being a viable candidate to play?

A: I'll know more about that as the week goes on. But late in the week last week he looked like he was rounding into form.

Q: Does he take over Brett Hundley's reps?

A: I'll make that determination as we get in closer to the week and see where he's at. But that would be the logical thing to do.

Q: Expect anything out of Tony Dye this week?

A: Tony's chomping at the bit to get back in there. We'll look and see how he does, if he gets into practice and starts to see if he can have some contact.

Q: Any update on Chris Ward?

A: Only that we're going to probably surgically repair him.

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