A good start to a really big week for us. A heck of a challenge going up to Stanford to play a really good football team. Just from the way our guys focused in this morning, we're really looking forward to it. A couple of injury updates, Ellis McCarthy was in a redshirt today, which is a good sign and we expect him to be available on Saturday. Jordon James, I think it's a real stretch to think that he'll play. I don't want to rule him out but I think it's a real stretch. He's still in a boot. And then I have some concerns about Darius Bell, he took a good hit and his ankles buckled, and he's slowly getting better. We'll see where he is on Saturday. Ellis, about 99% sure. Darius, I think he's going to play. Jordon, he's doubtful. Darren Andrews I think we're going to get back. He was in red and he was working with the offense. We just want to get him through the practice today, but he's feeling better. It would be good to get him back out there. But it was a good start to the week. It's an exciting week. You get to play on a national stage against one of the best things in football. This is what we've been working for. This is a team that won the Pac-12 last year. Beat us up there in a tough game. Our guys feel like they can compete with them. But it's going to take all we've got and we're going to have to play really well and I expect us to.
On if they're looking forward to redemption against Stanford:
You know, I don't focus on that. Nor do our players, on redemption or revenge. I think when you do that, it's a slippery slope. I think what you have to focus on is just the game that you're getting ready to play. That's always been my attitude on it. I think somewhere deep in their psyche, and maybe not that deep is 'payback, payback.' If you make that your motivation, I think you make a mistake. You have to focus on this game, and this year, and what it's going to take to win this game, this year. So I try to avoid that as much as possible.
On if some motivation can be helpful, particularly for Kai'mi Fairbairn:
It may. That was a different situation for him. It was wet. It was probably the only poor snap, or not perfect snap that Kevin had all year. We put him in a tough situation there. And as you said, I've given him 34 left hashes, every kick, since spring, and we did it again today. Trying to make it routine for him. I don't know. I haven't asked him about that. It's something I don't ask our guys about a lot. I try to create a mindset through what I say to them and let them motivate themselves the way they motivate themselves.
On the importance of a solid defensive line rotation:
I think it's always important on the defensive line. That's a physically demanding position to play. You're playing against big, physical men. You're taking on double-teams. It takes maximum effort. If you can keep your defensive line around 50 snaps a game, you're probably getting good production. It's when they start getting 60-70 a game, they get tired and they can't give you all they want for that particular play and that's where you get in to trouble. We need to be able to continue to rotate guys through. We have a deep defensive line and they're all productive players.
On Eddie Vanderdoes' performance:
Eddie played really well. As a matter of fact, he was one of our top performers in the last game on defense. Every week he gets better. He's figuring it out. He understands what it takes to have success at thi level. There are no little Johnnies on any of the teams we play, especially this week.
On Cassius Marsh:
I would have assumed I'd have heard something yesterday. The rules as I understand them, if you're ejected in the first half, you sit for the second half. And you're ok the next game. If you're ejected in the second half, you sit out the first half of the next game. That's the rules as I understand it. I haven't heard anything differently. We'll see.
On Caleb Benenoch:
He did good things. And then he struggled at times. But the more he can play, the better he's going to get. He'll be better this week than he was last week. He's a good football player. It's just experience. There is not necessarily an old man standing next to him, telling him what to do. He's got Alex. But what I think is fun and exciting is to watch those two grow up together, and mature together and get better together. Because they're both really good players. We just have to understand that at times, and hopefully not too many times, that at times, there could be an issue and a breakdown and a miscommunication but they're going to slowly eliminate that from the game and they're going to get better quickly.
On if he considers Alex Redmond to have an old man next to him:
Older. If you want to call a redshirt sophomore an old man. For our team, a redshirt sophomore is kind of an old man. We're pretty young.
On how important it is for the freshman to not play like it:
It's critical. This football team that we're playing on Saturday, it will be difficult to recover from freshman mistakes. There has never been a mistake-free football game in the history of ball. But it's the type of mistakes and the big errors we have to avoid. We learned that last year. They're very opportunistic. Those guys have to be ready to go and I think they will be. I saw them look better than they did in the second half against Utah and I expect them to be better this week. It's a great challenge for them. No matter what happens, they're going to come out playing against one of the best defensive fronts in football and I think it will give them a tremendous amount of obviously experience and I think confidence.
On if there were mistakes from the Pac-12 championship game they can learn from:
The interception, that they ran back to the one. We dropped a ball in the flat on that last drive. Less than perfect snap by one of the best snappers I've ever been around in Kevin (McDermott). I think I probably made a mistake by clocking it in that last drive, rather than getting up and going again and giving us an extra down. Weighing 3rd and 4 rather than the time. Looking back on it, the time management may be there. And them I'm sure there are a lot of little things earlier in the game that maybe led to those moments. But those are the four that stand out in mind in the offseason.
On if there is anything new he wants to see from the defensive line:
No, our defensive line has played well. You look at our run defense, we were at 2.8 yards a carry. When you take away the quarterback scrambles a week before, we were at 3.0 a carry. Our defensive line has been great. They're stout, they're firm. They're playing with a lot of discipline with a lot of gap integrity. I think this will be a big game for us and the style we play on defense.
On if he has to calm Brett Hundley down at times:
At some point I'll probably tell him to relax. I do it before every game, just say go you be you. Just go play the game. You don't have to win it by yourself. It's probably what most coaches tell their quarterbacks every week. Every time that Brett goes out and lines up, he just gets a little bit better. He understands what his mental approach to the game needs to be. He's improved in that area. I think he's really looking forward to this game. He played well against them in the second game. I don't worry too much about Brett. He's still developing as a quarterback. He's still young, and he hasn't played a whole lot of games yet. You look at some of those throws he missed, they're correctable. I think he's working through them and every week he gets better. This will be a really good week for him to play really, really well.
On if playing more will help with that:
I think so. Just getting more comfortable in that environment. The big game environment. The pressure environment. The only way you get comfortable in that environment is to experience that environment. And Brett's not a guy that is affected by pressure, or affected by the environment. The pressure doesn't squelch him. But you still have to go through the experience and he's doing that more often. I look at the Utah game, and the Nebraska game, great experiences for him and he'll have to draw on that this week.
On the emotions of guys that get emotional:
You want to play with emotion but you don't want to play emotionally. You need to have a heightened state of awareness. But you don't want to ever let it get out of control. Part of the way you do that as a head coach is the way you talk to them and the way you say it to them. You don't try to whip them into a frenzy on a Tuesday. You let it slowly build. You create the mindset of going into the game. Of confidence and poise. That's what we try to emphasize.
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