Dorrell's Press Conference

<i>Los Angeles Times</i> sports columnist T.J. Simers attended Karl Dorrell's weekly press conference to ask some very pointed questions of the head coach. Dorrell fends off Simers, as well as talking about the quarterback change, injuries and more...

Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers attended Monday's press conference and it's pretty easy to discern which are his questions in the following transcript.

Opening Statement:

Commenting after the game, but then getting a chance to assess the game on Sunday, it was a very disappointing and frustrating loss, at least from my standpoint. You're hoping that sometime late in the season that you're playing your best football. Given the situations we were given in that game, we had some opportunities to keep ourselves in the game with getting turnovers. If we eliminated the turnovers that we made it would have been a totally different game. Unfortunately that's where we're at at this point. We're just not operating as well as we need to be. I think defensively we've played good all season long. Offensively we're still trying to generate the continuity that has been a struggle on that side of the ball all season long. It continues to do so.

"A question was asked after the game about our quarterback position, about whether he was going to be a starter for this week. I don't like to answer those types of questions, dealing with personnel, ten minutes after a football game. I don't think it's right to make any kind of decision, particularly a personnel decision, right after a game that's been a frustrating loss. But contrary to what I did say on Saturday, we are going to make a change. We're going with Drew (Olson) this week. After all the evaluation I did yesterday, in watching our game, Matt (Moore) have done some good things for us offensively, but he hasn't been as consistent as we would hope that position to be. He is not the only factor in how our offense has had the struggling issues, because that's been plaguing us pretty much the whole season long. But I do know that Drew has, when the times when he was the starter, done some good things for us. We were winning quite a bit at that time, too, so given the state of that position, and the comfort level that Drew has within our system right now, that's the direction we're going.  Both kids knew that from yesterday. We're hoping to rebound and get ourselves a spark with these last two games left, with still a lot to play for."

If you don't like to make decisions right after the game, why did you then?

"Because he was the starter after the football game."

But didn't you say you weren't going to make a change? You made a decision.

"I made a decision after I evaluated the tape on a personnel issue on Sunday."

Was there something specific after watching the film in terms of Matt holding the ball too long, or whatever....

"There are a lot of things when you access the game. Sometimes it looks poor on a quarterback, when it totally isn't his fault, which are some issues which happened in our Stanford game. So the obvious eye just sees the end result, and that isn't necessarily an issue on the quarterback. It could have been other issues. So that's the reason I make those kind of decisions a day later, after you get a chance to watch the tape and evaluate the whole process of how things worked, and how they didn't work. That's why I arrived to that decision today."

How did the guys react to the decision, particularly Matt Moore?

"I think Matt was understanding with where we're at. He's just as frustrated as anybody on our team about where we're at offensively and where we're at as a team. He understands the issues that are involved. He's gotten his opportunity to direct the offense like he did at the beginning of the season. Hindsight is always the crystal ball, in terms of - was that the right decision to make that change to begin with. But Matt was the starter at the beginning of the year and played well in that first quarter. If given that situation again, and if we had a similar circumstance, I can't say that I wouldn't react the same way. But I do know we're at where we're at at this particular point in the seasons, and we need to do what's best for our team and for our offense."

In shotgun formation, the snap was taking some time to get back to the quarterback. Was that creating timing problems? How does that get resolved?

"It gets resolved by more repetition. It's something we really concentrated on doing last week, really for the first time all season long to give ourselves a little bit better ability to throw the football. So it was Robert Chai's first time, just doing that extensively. And yes, there were some that were high, and some that just lofted not as quite as swift as it should be. But I think those things should get resolved with more repetition."

Will you still work out of the shotgun?

"Yes, we'll still continue to do that. It seemed like our protection was a lot better than it was the week before."

Are Matt's problems more execution or his knowledge of the offense?

"It's probably just where he's at at this time in terms of where he is in the offense. I think Drew has a lot of starts and has probably a better feel of what we're trying to get accomplished on offense. Matt understands what we're doing, but the feel of what he's doing is not quite as natural at this time. He needs more reps himself. But given the situation we're in, we want to make sure we're maximizing our potential as well as we can to put the best product of offense on the field."

If Drew falters how quick is the hook on Drew?

"Those are issues that have to weighed when the come. Keep in mind that both quarterbacks were very, very similar to begin with. It wasn't like one was a pre-season All-American and the other was a first-year player and there was such a discrepancy between them both. Both of them are really capable players but the competition was so close all along. So, given the situation you just said, I can't rule out anything, in terms of what we would do in a course of a game. There is a likelihood that could happen. But that shouldn't be monumental because the stature of where we're at with that position."

So, right now, you'll go with who's playing better at the moment?

"Yes."

You said both quarterbacks are very similar and very capable. One wins four games in a row. Wasn't that a monumental blunder at the time?

"No. Not really. I think we judged it by performance and how kids have played, and how when Matt was in the game, even though how brief it was, he played very well and did the things we asked him to do."

He didn't go 4-0. You can't get much better than 4-0.

"You can't when you're not playing, yeah."

Why mess with that?

"If you remember at that point we were still struggling with what we were trying to do on offense as we continue to struggle. So those are issues that we're still trying to mend the fences with."

Will Matt Ware play this week?

"Matt played some in the game. He made a couple of big plays in the game. His ankle feels fine. He's still not 100%, but he thinks he'll be able to play better and a little bit more this week."

Rodney Leisle?

"Rodney played two plays and didn't feel very capable of doing anything effective for us. So we pulled him and he didn't re-injure it any further than what it is. But we're hoping with us not having him play so much in the game and another week of rehab and treatment, he can maybe have more plays for us this week."

Is Jarrad Page okay?

"Page has a mild knee sprain. He came back and played some later in the game. But it is a knee sprain. We think he'll be likely to play in the game, but we'll have to see how he plays during the course of the week."

Junior Taylor?

"Junior Taylor has a hip flexor injury and he's sore but the doctors feel that he should be able to play on Saturday."

With Maurice Drew fumbling, will Akil Harris see more playing time?

"Akil will probably get more playing time because of the nature of our depth there. We're going to try to get him in the fold there as being one of our three tailbacks. Maurice has had some issues the last couple of games where he's had the ball on the ground. But the week before that he played very, very well. I'm not down on Maurice. I'm down that he's a freshman and that he's going to make some mistakes here and there, but he's done some good things for us offensively."

It seemed that WSU was able to move your offensive line back on many running plays. Oregon has a good defensive line. Is there anything you can do to counteract that?

"I think both of these opponents, the one we just played, and Oregon, have very good defensive lines. We were able to generate some running game against a very good defensive line at Washington State, and this week we're going to do very similar things to keep our productivity just as well. The issue for us is to continue to protect our quarterback. So we have to work on those issues, with the good defensive line, like you mentioned. And secondly, we still have to be able to run the football with some effectiveness, so we're not running the ball all the time, too. Those are issues as you know from our offense we've been dealing with, and trying to find things to work on a week to week basis."

What did you see in the film on Matt Moore that would convince you to go with Drew Olson?

"It wasn't anything specific more than just a feel. I didn't think that he felt comfortable in certain things that we were doing offensively. And I think that showed some. I think part of it is his leadership skills and being able to do some things in the huddle and direct things. I think he was getting caught up in some things where he just didn't play very well. But that happens. He's been through a test the last couple of weeks with teams that have just tried to blitz us and get to the quarterback. So he's been in some tough circumstances.  I think he's going to continue at some point to get better at what we're doing. Drew seems to have a little bit more of a handle on what we're doing offensively, and that's why we made the change."

Are you concerned that switching between the two of them would rob the both of them of potentially getting in a flow?

"Maybe you can say that. But it's still an issue of our offense struggling in a lot of different ways. It's just not the quarterback. If it was just a quarterback issue and we had great backs and great receivers and everything else was fine and you're flipping quarterbacks, I think that would be an issue. I don't think this issue is as big because they're two guys that really haven't had that much extensive starting experience. Both of them are in their same year. They're both capable, but it's hard, with the status of where we are offensively, it's a lot of things that are factors in the game, in productivity and what an offense does. We're just trying to do what's best to move our offense. It comes down to moving our offense and who gives us our best chance."

In practice, does the offense score against the scout team?

"Yeah, very often they do."

You feel good when you're done with practice?

"I feel good about our preparation when we're done with practice. It's hard to simulate with our scout team being as good a caliber of scouts as your Saturday opponent."

But they beat up the scouts?

"They do practice well against the scouts."

What I gather is that you said Moore doesn't have a grasp of the offense. Did you notice that in practice?

"No."

So it's a surprise when it gets to game time?

"That's why I don't say it's a grasp but a feel. I think he understands it but it's different in the course of a football game."

Even though Olson isn't as athletic as Moore, will you still use the roll out?

"I don't want particular about schemes, but we're going to do whatever we think can be effective for us to generate offense. As you know, we're trying to do some things. We just can't keep him in the pocket. We have to do some things to change his launch point."

After watching the film, is there a reason that fumbling was such an issue?

"No. I can't really put a finger on that. The quarterback's fumble was getting hit when he was trying to throw the ball. The two fumbles by Maurice, one was a pitch play that we just didn't handle it right. And the second was stripped from behind as he was breaking through the scrimmage. It was a similar fumble to the one he had the week before - being hit from behind as he's going down the field. Our coaches do a great job of trying to do a lot of ball security drills during practice and after practice.  It's just one of those things that have happened, but obviously we can't embrace that but have to fix it. And continue to work on the things that hopefully will fix it."

Does it matter for you if either Fife or Clemens plays against you for Oregon because of their option?

"They're both playing and their system doesn't really change. They run an option with both quarterbacks.  In terms of one being so different than they other, they're really not. They both have the ability to throw the ball down the field. They both run the option. I'm sure they don't have any strong concerns playing both and that's why they do both."

Will John Sciarra get some more practice this week?

"Not this week. We're going to get Drew ready, and get Matt to be our second, if needed."

Will Paul Mociler start at right guard this week?

"Yes."

Why will Mociler be ahead of Kevin Brown?

"Kevin is doing a nice job picking up what we're doing offensively. But imagine playing right guard and never having played right guard, and having to learn all the line calls and adjustments on the move, it's difficult at times to do that at full speed, when you're thinking about it and it's not quite natural to him yet. So we're rotating both he and Paul, and just bringing him along. He's done a nice job when he's been in there, given what teams are doing particularly in passing situations. When they're moving around a lot, those are difficult on a young player."

How's the team's morale?

"Good.  As good as can be expected. Are they happy? No. We're disappointed, yes. It's how you want to finish this season. We might be mathematically out of the conference race, but there is still a lot to play for, and they know that. They've done a good job of staying positive and staying together as a team. We're building on that and we're just going to keep fighting through it."

How's your morale?

"My morale never changes. I'm who I am.  I'm status quo all the way through. I've seen the highs and the lows in this profession, and I understand the challenges that I have.  I understand that there's a particular look that everyone wants me to look like on the sideline. I've been successful being who I am, and I will continue to be who I am."

So no histrionics on the sidelines?

"I'll tell you, you never know. Sometimes I get a burr up me and I might just jump on top of a player. I've been known to do that every now and then."

Will you let us know?

"I might. I might. I'll say 'T.J., this is the game. I feel it.'"

Will you jump on a writer?

"No, unless we're high-fiving each other."

Matt Moore threw a lot of deep balls. Were there receivers open underneath with single coverage?

"Those are particulars in a game, all those things that put up in differences.  I don't concern myself with trying to discuss those issues. I think it's more he hasn't had a good feel of things right now. It's not that he doesn't know it. I think it's just different on Saturday. He'll get better. He'll keep pushing through it. He knows where he's at too. As a team we're just going to push through this thing and keep trying to get ourselves better at what we do."

Did you talk to Ryan Smith and Moore about their flair up during the game?

"There was a lot of emotion in that game. I think the seniors wanted to do some great things in that game and unfortunately we weren't able to do any of those things. It happens in the heat of the moment with any competitive people. They're going to try to spurn and stir and do whatever to do to get people to do their jobs. That's part of sport, part of team sport. Guys try to push each other to do as well as they can. I'm sure that case is not any different than any other case."

What do you have to do against Oregon's defense and offense to be effective?

"They're a very similar defense to Oregon State, Arizona State and Cal. It's kind of a 4-25. They're very active and very pressure-oriented. They played real well last week against Cal, and Cal was on a pretty good run until last week. Offensively they do enough things where your defense has to prepare for a lot of stuff. That's why it's difficult for our offense to prepare for a team like this. Plus they run the option. So it's a typical Pac-10 game with a tough challenge every week. Can they be beaten? Yes, and that's what we're shooting for."

How much option do they run?

"It's not the mainstay of what they do. But they do it enough where you have to prepare for it."

Is that tricky?

"It is tricky.  We have a good defensive line that likes to pass rush. It's harder on a defensive line that likes to pass rush and get to the quarterback. So it makes them think twice, and when you're pass rushing it's not what it normally would be."

Do you give your team pep talks?

"I sure do."

As lively as this? Before games? During the week? You just save the boring stuff for us? I'm just wondering. Going into the locker room before the game, I'm nervous.

"No, I wouldn't be nervous. You should ask the players that, whether I give good talks or not. I get them ready to play. They're excited about playing. I think my position with you guys is different. I have to be ready for anything and everything.  I have to keep my head on a swivel, so to speak."

Why? You give us dull answers no matter what we ask. Would you say that most of your answers are dull?

"No, I think they're to the point. Like your questions, to the point."

How did Mat Ball do in the game?

"He played well in the game. He did more than what we thought he was going to play. He didn't have any setback after the game, so he feels really good about that. We're anticipating that he'll be ready to go as a starter this week."

Which is the best team you played this year?

"The best team was Oklahoma."

In the Pac-10?

"I don't know. I think there are some good quality teams. As you know, in this Pac-10 anybody can beat anybody in any given week."

Every time you see USC play, you see Pete Carroll jumping around on the sideline. In recruiting is that something kids notice and something you have to compete with in a way?

"That I should jump on people? Not really. There are different ways people have been successful and get things done with who they are. Pete is good at what he does. He did that probably prior to him coming to USC. So why would he change and be any different than wherever he's coached? It's the same thing with me. I'm just going to be who I am. I've been successful doing things the way I've been doing it. Just because now I'm a heda coach, do I need to change what I do or how I look? Read the Head Coach Seminar Manual on how to be a head coach? I don't think those things are written for one."

Sport is emotion. It's excitment. It's enthusiasm. It gives you mometum sometimes. But not if there's some guy standing there and you have to poke him to see if he's alive.

"It is emotion."

It is emotion, he said unemotionally.

"You're right. It is emotion. But I think there's an element of emotion that's not necessarily manifested in how you're jumping around. I think sometimes it's the emotion and passion of how you're playing is being a player and doing what you're asked to do and knowing you're relied upon with your team. I think there are different levels of what you're trying to express. Some players, just like some coaches, are yell-yell guys and some are very much teacher-oriented. Both have been successful. I've been taught by a good teacher."

He has some emotion.

"Yeah, he does have some emotion."

He didn't teach you that part?

"No."


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